By her own admission, Melissa Bateson has spent most of her research career knowing very little about how the European Union sets science policy. Any scraps she did pick up were routinely distorted by the snide lens of the UK's tabloid newspapers.

So when Britain's Royal Society offered her the opportunity to join in a partnering scheme with her local representative in the European Parliament (her "MEP" in Euro-speak) she jumped at the chance. "I was interested to see whether there was another side of it," explains Bateson, an ethologist from the University of Newcastle. "And to find out more about what it could do for science."

Bateson and six other scientists from England and Wales arrived in Brussels early on the morning of May 30 and spent some time being introduced to the many different EU bodies. The next day was spent shadowing their MEPs as they went about...

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