From July 2019 until Brexit in January 2020, Martin was a Member of the European Parliament (MEP), representing the South West England & Gibraltar constituency. He was elected Vice-President of the 108-strong Renew Europe group in the Parliament which brings together Liberals and likeminded allies from across the continent.
Martin sat on the Parliament’s international development committee (DEVE), building on his past political and professional experience in development. He was also a substitute member of the the foreign affairs committee (AFET) and its security and defence sub-committee (SEDE) and vice chair of the Parliament’s delegation to Iran.
In plenary sessions of the Parliament he made the first speech against Brexit in the newly-elected Parliament and repeatedly spoke out against Brexit, for peace and human rights and for tough action on the environment.
Martin used his position on the DEVE committee to speak out in favour of international aid for development and in particular for the whole of the European Union to match the 0.7% of national income for development alongside greater aid transparency achieved by the Lib Dems in coalition in the UK. Watch Martin’s speech on this here.
On the eve of the global Covid19 pandemic, Martin co-hosted with Belgian MEP and former minister Frédérique Ries, the Global TB Caucus and German NGO DSW a conference with Commission representatives on how the EU could do more to fight TB. Martin emphasised the huge shared benefits of Europe championing investment in global healthcare and public health – a lesson we are now learning the hard way.
Linking the environment and development he also argued for firmer action on deforestation, mandatory standards for EU companies and also for the collective rights of indigenous peoples – the best guardians of crtitically important forest environments. Even seemingly obscure discussions on trade with the Solomon Islands provided opportunities to raise these issues..
At AFET meetings, plenary sessions of the Parliament and in his position as Vice Chair of the Parliament’s Iran delegation, Martin repeatedly argued that the European Union should actively support the Iran nuclear deal and rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia, in contrast to Donald Trump’s confrontational approach and breaking of the international agreements. In his last days as an MEP, he hosted a conference with leading French MEP and former diplomatic negotiator Nathalie Loiseau on the prospects for Iran and peace in the Middle East which brought together Iranian and Saudi speakers in genuine dialogue.
He was also able to raise human rights issues, hosting the husband of Iranian detainee Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, Brazilian and Venezuelan human rights defenders and Kenyan campaigners against female genital mutilation, and speaking out in support of Uighur, Hong Kong and Tibetan rights in China and confronting Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic representative at the EU on that country’s appalling human rights record.
In the interests of transparency, Martin has published: