ED’S OPINION: Yes it’s cumbersome, but Europe matters

ED’S OPINION: Yes it’s cumbersome, but Europe matters

Richard Ferrer has become a leading voice on Jewish communal issues since becoming editor of the Jewish News in 2009, writing about contemporary Jewish life for a national audience. He edited the Boston Jewish Advocate, America's oldest Jewish newspaper and created the Channel 4 series Jewish Mum of the Year.

Jewish News Editor, Richard Ferrer
Jewish News Editor, Richard Ferrer
Richard Ferrer 2 retouch
Jewish News Editor Richard Ferrer

 By Richard Ferrer, editor Jewish News

It’s tempting to dismiss the idea that our votes in today’s European Election are important, in a ballot so big, and for a legislative body so bureaucratic and unwieldy.

But cumbersome though it is, the European Parliament does matter.

It not only has power over laws, budgets and admissions, it is also the frontline of the fight on many subjects that we hold dear.

Take brit milah, for instance. The Parliament has witnessed significant debates and two motions that cut to the very heart of what it means to be a Jew, one regarding the “integrity of the child” and another on “freedom of religion”. While there has as yet been no hint of new legislation on the matter, these debates continue – as do concerns.

Some in Brussels argue the EU should follow Norway’s lead, where it is mandatory for a medical practitioner to be present at religious circumcisions.

This would have a significant impact on the lives of Jews in the UK.

Similarly, take shechita, a subject new MEPs will consider later this year when a major report is due on the labelling of meat.

“It could have a serious impact on how people view kosher meat,” says Shechita UK. “We will continue to fight for non-pejorative labelling but having sympathetic MEPs is vital.”

Voting in those sympathetic MEPs may not be as difficult as we imagine.

This month, Britain sends 73 MEPs to Brussels, to take their seats (or not, in UKIP’s case) alongside 750 other elected politicians from 28 countries.

But given that there are just over 750 politicians in total, one tenth of the new European Parliament will come from these shores and from our votes.

Call it the London weighting. And who better to weigh in on politics of Jewish interest than the capital’s Jewish community.

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