June 4, 2014
A new team of MEPs was elected in the May 2014 European Parliament elections. Across 28 countries, 751 people were elected, but those are not the only statistics: a record number of euro skeptics got elected, some MEPs are already so solidified in Brussels that they have no idea about the national reality (anymore), and there are those who are new to the European legislature – they can easily get lost in such a supranational organization and certainly will not bring added value.
Let’s be pragmatic! This is the Parliament that we have chosen for the next five years. Rather than criticize those who have only had the MEP “label” for a few days, it is better to help them. As recently stated by the media, the European Parliament is the world’s second largest democratically elected legislative body, after the Indian one (interesting association!).
Yes, the European Parliament is a force. We hope that this will prove to be true in the following days as the next president of the European Commission is confirmed in a democratic and transparent manner, but the battle is complex for the elected ones. The MEP should be aware that he/she is not only the representative for a political party from an EU member state, but for the all EU member states and the European Union in general as well. I agree with you, he/she is elected via a national list, which is “realpolitik”, as they say. But here comes the “European ballet” of the elected, they should have one foot in the “electoral pool” (from where they got the vote), and the other one in the “European public space”. Crucially, however, is that the messages you send are consistent, with no obvious contradiction between national and European angles. This sounds easy, but it is the key of the European construction. This is what the European commissioners are trying to do for years: to represent the EU “without privileging their country of origin”.
An MEP needs to communicate. You cannot hide or better said: you can no longer hide. Modern technology, as agreed by the Treaty of Lisbon, makes each of MEPs more visible. After the appointments for the parliamentary committees and finalizing staff of Cabinets, which should be done in September 2014, MEPs can decide whether to take an active role or not. And the good news is that the European Union needs vision and it needs voices to speak laud.
MEPs do not try to use the template “press is not interested in our technical work in the European Parliament” endlessly. European and international press, and especially those publishing in English and German, really want to know where the EU is heading. It is therefore imperative to have a sustainable communication strategy. Sporadic appearances on national television and “press releases from Strasbourg” are a good start, but the journalists expect more: an updated web page, a weekly blog where they can understand the essence of your speeches, more communication regarding public events where you have interventions (particularly those outside the European institutions). You have the human and financial resources to manage a step forward in the direction of “Brussels communication”, expressing your ideas also in English. You cannot be quoted as expert on a certain European policy if you do not express thoughts other than in your native language.
And another thing: carefully plan the “quota of 110 guests per year” that will visit you in Brussels. It’s logical that they see you working in a plenary or committee session, but also explain openly that “Brussels” is more than just the European Parliament. Journalists, mayors or students brought to Brussels can get a better understanding of the mysteries of Brussels in a few days, including all 100,000 people that operate there, and of which 50% outside the institutions.
Always remember what was said in the campaign: “It is a big responsibility to be in the list for my party for a 5 years mandate. If you give my vote, I will try to …”
Members of the European Parliament, Europe is in your hands: good luck in your mission!