James Elles has been a Member of the European Parliament since 1984. Born in September 1949, he graduated from Edinburgh University with a BSc (Hons) in agriculture. He became an MEP after an eight-year career as a civil servant with the European Commission, initially as a Tokyo Round negotiator and latterly as Assistant to the Deputy Director General of Agriculture.
Now in his sixth parliamentary term, James is the longest serving member of the European Parliament's Budgets Committee, having been a member for the past 26 years. James is also a substitute member of the EU-US delegation.
He was rapporteur (the person appointed to steer a measure through Parliament) for the 1996 and 2007 budgets which prioritised a "value for money" approach. Recognised for his key role in the downfall of the Santer Commission in 1999, his action in this affair was summed up by the European Parliament's newsletter: "James Elles has become the unsung hero of Parliament's challenge to the Commission, the man who was in at the birth and the kill of the two-year campaign to establish Parliament's authority over the way public money is spent."
Internationally, James has always shown a deep interest in how the changing international situation affects Britain. In 1992 he founded the Transatlantic Policy Network (TPN). The purpose of TPN is to help build bridges between the EU and US involving business and policy-makers on both sides of the Atlantic, feeding in ideas, for example, to create the new transatlantic agenda (NTA) and, more, recently putting forward suggestions to strengthen transatlantic partnership through the completion of the transatlantic market. From December 1992, to December 1999, he was the first chairman of TPN. He resumed chairmanship of the network in 2009. More details on TPN on www.tpnonline.org
In 2000, the European Internet Foundation (EIF) was launched by James and two other parliamentarians as co-founders. The purpose of the European Internet Foundation is to help encourage European political leadership in the development of active public policies that respond to the political, economic and social challenges of the worldwide digital revolution. The EIF aims to ensure that the European Union remains open to developments in the digital economy and benefits fully from it, through enhanced global competitiveness and social progress. More details on EIF on www.eifonline.org.
In the same year, he was also the driving force in the establishment of the European Parliament's All-Party Group on Kashmir (APGK), of which he is chairman. This reflects the substantial Kashmiri community based in the Thames Valley. Working with the Kashmir Centre in Brussels, the APGK has staged four Global Discourses on Kashmir, bringing together those most interested, not only Pakistanis and Indians, but principally Kashmiris.
In August 2002, James founded the European Ideas Network (EIN). It is an innovative and exciting new kind of body: an open network think-tank on a European scale. This is a tangible example of James's commitment to greater involvement in policy making by Party members and the wider public. He stepped down as Chairman of the Network in March 2008. The development of the EIN can be monitored on its website, accessible at www.ein.eu
A linguist, speaking French, Italian and some German, James is chairman of the European Parliament's Golfing Society. Outside politics, his interests include running, music and gardening. James Elles has a home in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, as well as in Brussels.