If we want to give European politics legitimacy and the approval
of European citizens, we will have to increase their interest and
support for the European Parliament and their MEPs. Right now, as things
stand, Europeans turn to their national or local politicians for their
problems and see the EP as something distant.
And who can blame them? - they rarely see the MEPs or their work, and are, in fact, hardly aware of what they do, how they represent them, or what is currently being discussed in the EP.
Can Europeans trust their MEPs if they do not hear from them directly on regular TV programmes on the national television, news and chat shows? The EP politicians are not as accessible as national or local representatives. The latter can be met in our streets, and they accept visits in their offices.
They have direct and traditional relations with the local population, while EP
politicians are based in Brussels and are usually
voted for because of their political party alliance. Ordinary people only come in
contact with MEPs during the electoral campaign, once every five
A popular journalist, for example, has more chances to be supported and trusted in his work for the national Parliament. Because people can read his views or opinions over the years, they get to know him/her and inevitably to trust him.
They consider him/her as their voice in the Parliament. As opposed to that, when our main political parties choose to nominate someone to represent them in the EP, they usually choose somebody not as known or popular. They use the top and well known politicians for their seats in the national government.
Perhaps it is time for the EP politicians or other EU officials to show their work and faces more often to their voters and the public. They should give more interviews on national media, participate in debates in political chat shows, and perhaps even tour or visit institutions in each state. Live transmissions of the EP's plenary sessions could also be considered.
There are already many links or sites on Facebook or Twitter via which you
can contact some EP politicians. But how many of you even know who your elected
MEP is? I have searched and found some of them and I have to say they
are more keen in replying to your queries than government
I think the EP politicians should become as accessible as the national elected representatives of each country. And of course, we should fill to the EP with people that will inspire the public to follow them. We need to start building the same trusting relationship between the public and the MEPs that exists (or at least existed before the crisis) between them and their national Government's officials.
If we want a fully functional and democratic EP and EU, we need the support, interest and involvement of the citizens. But how can we achieve this when they have no faces to connect with the laws coming out of the EP?
The new generation is far more knowledgeable and involved because they use the Internet more and can access or contact MEPs in this way. That is very heartening. But how about the older generations?
We need change as soon as possible in Europe, and as long as we let the over 40's generations remain apathetic to EU politics and institutions, real reforms in Europe will lag. It is time for the MEPs to get out of the EP and reach out to the voters!