Liberal Democrat MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber, Edward McMillan-Scott, re-elected as one of the European Parliament's 14 Vice Presidents last month, has again been allocated the portfolio for Democracy and Human Rights. He has also been given a new responsibility, for Transatlantic Relations. He was put forward by the liberal Group in the European Parliament and is the only British MEP on the Parliament's Bureau, responsible for its management, organisation and finances.
He has a long record in campaigning for human rights and democracy support. He was the first outside politician to get to Cairo after the fall of Mubarak and has been back to the region six times since, promoting liberal, secular forces. Last week, he met activists from Homs in Syria, the scene of such heartbreaking violence, who had come to appeal for support. He recently wrote in the Yorkshire Post about his worries that the spirit of the Arab Spring is fading.
He told a senior delegation of the American Chamber of Commerce last week that his new portfolio will allow him to build bridges between legislative powers across the Atlantic Ocean, with a well functioning European Parliament's Liason Office in Washington, and mutual visits from Congressional and European Parliamentary delegations. He addeed that these are fascinating times to begin this responsibility with elections in November and an extensive range of contacts necessary on democracy building and human rights worldwide.
Foreign Office Minister Jeremy Browne has welcomed the news of Mr McMillan-Scott's appointment:
“I am delighted at Edward’s re-election. He has proved a passionate, determined and highly effective campaigner for human rights and democracy.
“As the British Foreign Minister responsible for human rights and a fellow Liberal Democrat, I am greatly looking forward to working with Edward to pursue this agenda, which is so central to the enlightened interests of the UK and Europe as a whole.
“With the Arab Spring continuing, and tentative steps towards political reforms in Burma, the presence of strong and credible voices, fighting for human rights and democracy at home and abroad, is absolutely essential.
“I am convinced Edward is the right man to help ensure that we maximise the collective weight of the European Union in defending and promoting human rights and democracy.”