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McCarthy graduated from South Bank Polytechnic (now London South Bank University) in 1983 with B.A. (Hons) proceeding to attend the Free University of Berlin and then later attending the University of Manchester to conduct Ph.D. studies.
After completing studies McCarthy was employed as a lecturer in International Politics and Regional Studies at the Free University of Berlin, and was also employed at the European Parliament working for the Socialist Group.
Upon returning to Britain McCarthy worked as the Principal European Liaison Officer at Kirklees Metropolitan Borough Council, until her election to the European Parliament.
First elected in 1994, McCarthy was re-elected in 1999 to represent the newly formed North West England constituency. Having represented the same constituency since, she was top of the list of candidates from the Labour Party at the 2009 European elections.
McCarthy held a number of positions within Parliament, being a member of the Party of European Socialists, she sat in the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats group. McCarthy was Chair of the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection and since 2009 served as the Vice-Chair of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs.
In January 2014 McCarthy announced she would not be seeking re-election in the June 2014 European Parliament Election.
- European Regional Development Strategies: Responses of Two Northern Regions, Local Government Policy Making, Vol.20, No 5, May 1994
- Official website
- Arlene McCarthy MEP and Software Patents (FFII page detailing her proposing legislation allowing the patenting of software)
- Another FFII page
- Profile at European Parliament website
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