Looking back at the last legislative term, what were the most significant achievements or challenges you faced as a young member of the European Parliament?
I've been negotiating the whole fight on due diligence.
Right after Qatargate, there were a number of MEPs coming to the hemicycle with a hand on their heart saying this is not good, this is never going to happen again and we are going to change the rules.
But The Left group was the only group requesting that change. In two resolutions, we adopted 14 different commitments on rules that need to be changed.
So the least you can do when you want to save democracy is actually respect democracy and implement it. And I can give you an example, the ban on side jobs was voted in resolution. And this has been refused in an amendment that I tabled, it was close, but still, it was not adopted.
I can mention the cooling-off period, which is only six months — instead of the 24 months that I've committed to. The fact that there's still some sort of self-control means no big reform. It's good to have rules, and it's even better that these rules are implemented. For that, you need an independent committee that you have to take the sanctions and in the reform, it will still be the president of the European Parliament taking sanctions.
So clearly, I think we have not delivered what we promised. It is not up to the standards that we should have.
At the beginning and at the end of the mandate, we will have to publish a declaration on assets. We will also have to publish all our meetings, whether we are rapporteur or not.
And this was secured by my group because we're the only ones fighting hard till the end to get that. But as I said, this is clearly far from what we promised that we would do. Once the emotion of the scandal went down, the same old habits and business as usual are still going on.
And that's why I think this should be an important issue for the next European election – would that culture of opacity continue in the European Parliament or do we want to change towards transparency?
For me, corrupted people are like vampires, they hate the light and that's exactly what we should do to bring light to these practices.
Young people are the first victims of neoliberal policies…We have a social emergency that will not be solved with liberal dogmas of austerity that the EU wants to bring back.
How do you think your age and generational perspective have influenced your work and decision-making in the European Parliament? Can you provide examples of issues where your perspective differed from older colleagues?
The European Parliament is not open to the type of profile I had. I came from the NGO environment. It's important for me to manage to keep my own perspective being an activist and to bring that real life into the European Parliament.
I worked for Oxfam before being elected in 2019 and I only worked for NGOs in the past. My role in particular was to bring that real life to the European Parliament and to take down the very thick walls between the EU level and people.
French politician Jordan Bardella, head of the National Rally (RN) since 2022, is also young, but has old-fashioned positions. He has been voting in the parliament against abortion rights. Bardella is hiding in the European Parliament to have this very regressive position that his party doesn't even openly have in France.
So that's also why we need to break down the barriers between the European Parliament and the real life of people because I think people, who vote just for Bardella, don't know that he's been fighting against abortion rights, and, for example, windfall profits used to fund a social emergency plan for people.
So that's why I think that young people need to enter the European Parliament to see what's really going on.
Have you encountered any obstacles or biases in the European Parliament based on your age?
When I arrived for the first time in the EU Parliament the very first day when I went to the welcome desk for new MEPs, the person in charge asked me whether I was the assistant of one of my colleagues – I think it says it all. It's quite meaningful.
I was a young woman, probably not the type of profile that they were used at the welcome desk for MEPs joining the parliament. Then I became the youngest chair of a group in parliament.
And being a young woman, we need to work twice as hard to prove they were legitimate to be there. And I've used that as a sort of motivation showing my determination and willingness to fight in the European Parliament. On top of that, I'm sitting in the economy committee and sub-committee on tax affairs, two committees mostly composed of men.
I think my generation can bring bring back the trust between citizens and policymakers because the truth is that most EU citizens don't care about the EU.
In light of recent youth-led movements and activism across Europe, such as climate strikes and social justice movements, how do you see the role of young MEPs in amplifying these concerns and translating them into policy actions at the European level?
It's also our space to be in the European Parliament. There are people being there forever, talking for hours, even if they have no clue what they're talking about. And I think I've proven that we can both work out to know exactly what we're talking about.
I think that people in politics are in a sort of a private club and we need to enter that private club, and I can imagine that for some of the young people, politics is not the dream of their lives. I have an expression in French which I think doesn't work in English.
"Si tous les dégoûtés nuit la politique, il ne restera que les dégoûtants." [approximately, “if disgust harms politics, only the disgusting will remain.”]
I've been working a lot on ethical issues, and I've been whistleblowing on Qatar, on some of the EU politics in particular when I was negotiating attacks and human rights violations in Qatar around the World Cup.
Since then, I've been leading the fight to change our ethical rules, for example, to ban side jobs which might sound very obvious, and I think this is very obvious for my generation, for the older generation for people, having you know, several mandates at the same time, you know, working for lobbyists at the same time. I want to say this over and over, the old habits of doing politics, keeping the privileges and refusing accountability, I think this needs to change.
That's what I think my generation can bring and in a way, it can bring back the trust between citizens and policymakers because the truth is that most EU citizens don't care about the EU or political decision levels – and I think our responsibility is actually to be accountable to people and not to companies.
Our generation – both in the way we do politics and those in power – can actually bring back the young generations in politics. I'm young and I sometimes use direct language or I wear ‘Rosie the Riveter’ clothes when I go to the hemicycle to talk on women's rights issues.
To be a whistleblower and to be an activist I think it's one of the ways to bring people back into politics. So the way we do politics, but also the theme. I'm from the left so I'm fighting for women's rights against the far-right efforts to challenge abortion rights but I'm also from a generation for whom abortion is obvious. I was born in France and abortion was already legal.
But I can see the danger of the far-right now challenging abortion rights. The same goes for climate, we can see this climate scepticism growing and there as well I’m fighting these issues that are abusing our generation. I think there's a difference between generations is also a way to actually, you know, bring our generation back into politics.
How do you see the overall representation of young people in the European Parliament? What reforms or changes would you advocate for to enhance the representation and voice of young MEPs in the future?
I think, as I said, that we need to bring young people closer to the European Parliament. It's both about the way we do politics, but also about what we're focusing on. I think we have a failing system. You can see overwhelmed food banks and how a lot of young people in France, but in many other countries as well, are just trying to get some food at the same time that big companies are making extraordinary profits.
Young people are the first victims of neoliberal policies. We can see the problems with housing, and underfunded universities, a lot of youth have to work on the side of their studies.
And we have a social emergency that will not be solved with liberal dogmas of austerity that the EU wants to bring back, where the budgetary rules are being suspended – collapsing public services, welfare states.
This social state of emergency in which a lot of young people across the European Union is something that is also connected to austerity measures and policies at the EU level.
On climate, policies we should agree on are still far from the Paris Agreement – there is a lot of contradiction at the EU level.
Ursula von der Leyen’s annual speech talked a lot about industries but a few minutes later, she said how much she wants to speed up free-trade agreements like the next one we're gonna sign with New Zealand.
It makes no sense to import milk from New Zealand. Our own producers in Europe have too much milk that they don't even manage to sell. Young people are much more preoccupied or worried about where the products are made and it doesn't make sense to have products that have gone like three times around the world before they get into your supermarkets.
The same goes for the type of food that we have, you know, with pesticides.
For example, today as we're speaking, the council and commission will reauthorise glyphosate. Those are very good examples of the type of policies that are specifically of interest for people and especially for young people to whom we should talk to.
The most important files Aubry worked on for the last legislative term 2019-2023:
Parliament’s Rules of Procedure on integrity, transparency and accountability
Rules on prohibiting products made with forced labour on the Union market
Report to to lift the immunity of MEP Tarabella (BE) and Cozzolino (IT), following Qatargate
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