What is it about the European Parliament?We all go on about demanding more democracy in the EU, and yet here’s the EP sitting in the corner shouting “Hey! Look at us! We’re elected!” and yet, across Europe, people just don’t care. Why?
First, there’s history. In 1979, when we first elected the the EP, it had no power, other than the power to eat very good if slightly heavy Franco-German cuisine (A lot of sausages in sauce so thick it would have voted for George W.) and maybe contract gout. But, since then, it has gained massive joint powers with the Council of Ministers, control over the budget, and the power to sack the commission. But you still think I’m just mouthing off eurocrat balls, don’t you?
Ok then, let’s put it another way. There are over 15,000 lobbyists lobbying the parliament. Why would business, the unions, and social groups spend their money lobbying a parliament that had no power? Are they drunk?
Or consider this: Most Eurosceptics complain about the unelected European Commission as an evil cross between Darth Vader and the Eurovision Song Contest. Yet, here’s the thing: The European Commission is afraid of the Parliament.
Yes, the mighty European Commission, that faced down the US over steel tariffs and faced down General Electric over mergers and beat up Intel and stole its lunch money and actually took its mickey* out and slapped it on the table when fighting with Bill Gates and said ” Think yours is big, Bill? Get a load of this!” is afraid of the European Parliament, because the Parliament can (And has in the past) sack the Commission. It is to the almighty Commission what kryptonite is to Superman. So, next time you see President Barrosso stand astride Europe in his red underpants, tell him to be afraid. Or at least put on trousers.
Finally: I’m an unashamed pro-European, so why believe me? Well, this is what Open Europe, a British eurosceptic thinktank, said about the “powerless” European Parliament:
” The European Parliament has substantial powers to influence daily life….. and takes decisions affecting everything from working time to energy and internet use. In fact, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) now effectively have a ‘veto’ over national governments on about 75% of all European legislation…….the often repeated claim that MEPs ‘lack real powers’, is largely inaccurate. The Parliament has grown in power with every new EU treaty. The Lisbon Treaty will be no exception. If it is ratified, the number of areas where MEPs share powers with national governments will double.”
It’s tediously boring, because it debates things like airfares and internet access, which we all know is important but God, don’t make me talk about it! It’s like bran. You know it’s good for you but you’d really prefer a rasher sandwich instead.
And yes, I know: “The European Parliament, it keeps you regular” isn’t the slogan of the age, but it’s true. Boring, yes. Irrelevent? No.
So go out and vote for someone who at least sounds like they’ll take it seriously.
*Yes, I do use the word “mickey” a lot in my posts. It makes me laugh. That and the word “strumpet”.