Julian Priestley, the European Parliament's former Secretary General and Stephen Clark, its head of web communications, paint an 'impressionist's canvas' that brings the European Parliament to life. In a vivid portrait they look behind and beyond the formal powers and procedures of the Parliament to explore its history, its culture, its politics, the personalities who have led it, and the army of staff who make it function. In the words of Jacques Delors: 'Readers will discover the workings of this institution ...and also the human drama ...this book will help you better understand this European adventure'. The authors start off with two chapters which set the scene: what the Parliament is like to work in - the physical environment, and from that, the story of the seat, and the saga of the buildings. The book then moves on to describe the main actors in the daily drama of parliamentary life; the politicians, of course, but also their staffs, the political group secretariats and Parliament's administration.
It covers the different kinds of parliamentarians - the higher-profile MEPs destined for senior office in Parliament, the legislators, the budgeteers, the institutionalists, the parliamentary diplomats and the mavericks. It describes how MEPs get promoted. And it shows how in reality MEPs do their work of legislating, controlling the budget and scrutinising the Commission. The book raises several other themes. What about the politics in all this? How important a factor is nationality in the way things are decided? And multilingualism - how does the Parliament cope as the only body in the world with fully twenty-three working languages, plus some add-ons? And, finally and ever more importantly, how does the Parliament communicate with the outside world and especially those who elect it? The book includes more than 350 photographs illustrating the 'life and times' of this unique experiment in continental-level democracy.