Robert was educated at Ashville College, Harrogate and trained in accountancy. He built up a substantial family farming business, mainly in arable crops, now run by his son Julian who is the Conservatives' prospective parliamentary candidate for Outer York. He finds this practical experience invaluable in policy discussion in Parliament. As being an MEP involves so much travelling from home to Brussels when he has time off he enjoys nothing more than helping out around the farm.
His passion for agriculture started young when he became County Chairman of the Young Farmers. Active in the NFU, Robert held a number of appointments and chairmanships including Chairman of the regional livestock committee and sugarbeet, potatoes and cereals committee and was involved in the WTO Uruguay round negotiations. It was this that led to his growing interest in international trade and the important role that agriculture plays within it.
Robert takes a keen interest in animal welfare and the environment and is a member of the RSPB and Vice-President of the Cambridgeshire Beekeepers Association. Robert is treasurer of the Land Use and Food Policy Intergroup.
Robert Sturdy's Experience
Robert got his first taste of politics at school, winning the public speaking trophy. Since then he has been a councillor and was a constituency chairman from 1990-93.
Robert has represented Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire since June 1994. In 1999 he was elected Deputy Chairman of the Conservatives in the European Parliament and held this position until 2001 when he decided that commitments on the European Foot and Mouth inquiry committee would take up most of his time. He used his position as Conservative, and EPP-ED spokesman on Agriculture (1994-2001) and Rural Affairs (2001-2004) to lead the campaign to set up the first public inquiry into the epidemic. As draftsman on many reports, the most recent being on measures to control Avian Flu, Robert has maintained his interest and concern for issues regarding food safety and public health.
Since becoming the European Conservatives and Reformists' (ECR) Coordinator for International Trade, Robert has focussed his energies on promoting global free trade. As this is an area where Baroness Ashton negotiates on behalf of all EU member states he believes it is important that the British public's interest is taken into account. From the "Bra Wars" debacle, where thousands of Chinese textiles and bras were blocked in Europe's ports, to Economic Partnership Agreements, which aim to put trade at the service of development, Robert works on trade issues that affect all of our lives.
He is a member of the Inter-Parliamentary World Trade Organisation Committee and is also a member of the EU-ACP (Africa, Caribbean, and Pacific) Joint Parliamentary Assembly as well as the Pan-African Parliament and the Iraq Delegation.
In addition to his role in International Trade, Robert is also a substitute member of the Parliament's Agriculture Committee.
He follows both committees closely when they overlap with areas of his experience and expertise.
Robert: working for the Eastern region
Robert considers his first priority is always to his constituents. His favourite part of the job is meeting members of the public and visiting schools, farms and local businesses as this ensures that he stays in touch with the concerns of people in the region. He took part in a sugar growers rally in Brussels to protest against Commission proposals on reform of the sugar regime in July 2005, not just because it affected local jobs but also because it will have a catastrophic effect on poor farmers in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries. In 1999 Robert led a march up the Champs Elysees to campaign against the French ban on British beef and got arrested for his pains!
He also takes a keen interest in constituents' individual problems that he is able to help on a European level. He tries to fit as many constituency events as possible and hosts groups in the Parliament in Brussels and Strasbourg.