The European Parliament is the only directly-elected body of the European Union. Comprising 736 Members, it is elected every five years by voters across the twenty-seven Member States of the European Union on behalf of its 500 million citizens.
The Parliament organises its work through a system of specialised committees, and, in many policy areas, decisions on new European laws are made jointly by Parliament and the Council of Ministers, which represent Member States. The European Parliament plays an active role in drafting legislation impacting on the daily lives of its citizens – on environmental protection, consumer rights, equal opportunities, transport and the free movement of workers, capital, services and goods. The Parliament also has joint power with the Council over the annual budget of the European Union.
Baroness Nicholson was a Member of the European Parliament (representing the South East of England) between 1999 and 2009. She was the first Vice-President of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, and the Common Defence & Security Policy between 1999 and 2007. She initiated the establishment of the first permanent delegation to Iraq, which was subsequently chaired by her. She served as a Rapporteur repeatedly for Iraq, Romania and Kashmir. She was an active member of the Delegation for Relations with Iran, and for Relations with the Mashreq Countries.
One of the core tasks of the European Parliament’s activities in external affairs is the organisation of election observation missions to various countries internationally – either independently or jointly with the Commission. Baroness Nicholson was selected by the European Commission to serve as Chief Observer for the European Union Election Observation Mission to Yemen in 2006. She also participated in other Election Observation Missions, including to Palestine (in 2005), Azerbaijan (in 2005), Lebanon (2005 and June 2009), Afghanistan (2005), Armenia (May 2007), and Pakistan (February 2008). Additionally, she served as a member of the United Nations Election Observation Missions in Iraq (in January and December 2005).
The European Parliament website can be accessed at: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/default.htm
Information about Baroness Nicholson’s role as Chief Observer for the European Observation Mission to Yemen in 2006 can be accessed at: http://europa-eu-un.org/articles/en/article_6189_en.htm