19 MAR 2011
by Richard Moss | BBC
I may have only spent a couple of days in Strasbourg last week but it did give me some insight into the life of an MEP.
I am sure if he or she were so inclined, an MEP could limit the workload to a lowish level, but to be fair there was little evidence of that on show.
The parliament building is not too distant from the city centre, but most of the MEPs I spoke to said they rarely saw the more scenic Strasbourg because of the long hours spent in meetings.
But I suppose the question is, are all those meetings worth having?
I sat through a small amount of one about emission limits from tractors - I am glad I didn't have to stay for all of it.
Of course, the meeting actually is important to tractor manufacturers and to environmentalists, but it doesn't set the pulse racing.
Any MEP who's a euro-enthusiast might be happy to spend their life on such matters, but wouldn't it frustrate sceptics?
I spoke to two with different approaches.
The Conservative North East MEP Martin Callanan certainly thinks Europe should interfere less in UK affairs.
But he says that as long as the EU has the powers it has, he has to engage fully to ensure any legislation is as well-drafted as possible.
UKIP's Godfrey Bloom though takes another approach, saying he rolls up in Strasbourg each month determined to vote against everything.
He says: "I take the Groucho Marx approach. Whatever it is, I'm against it."
The European Parliament in Strasbourg - one of two buildings which house our MEPs.
And there are of course real concerns about the money spent on having a parliament - or rather two as MEPs split their time between duplicate buildings in Brussels and Strasbourg.
That duplication costs around £200m a year - something that a majority of MEPs are disgusted with. While I was there the opponents achieved a minor victory by effectively stopping one of the sojourns to Strasbourg each year.
But on paper MEPs also look expensive.
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