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For a Progressive Parliament Presidency That Fosters Democracy in the EU

Two and a half years after the last European elections, the European Union is suffering from multiple crises. Among them, the democratic deficit requires attention and action. The European Parliament has been ignored in major decisions that have affected the European citizenry and FYEG demands a strengthening of the only elected European institution.

 

Martin Schulz’s will be remembered as a visible and influential president in the EU’s decision-making, but this does not mean that parliamentary democracy was strengthened during his tenure. The fact that the EP has been denied the role it should have when making decisions regarding the eurocrisis is something Schulz will be remembered for. It is also a disgrace that Schulz has sabotaged attempts of elected representatives to have an open, European debate about free trade agreements like TTIP and CETA in the EP. This must change under the next president.

 

FYEG opposes the politics of Grand Coalition that rule the EP and other European institutions, as this mostly serves to perpetuate an imaginary status quo that increasingly puts the European project at peril. The candidate of the Socialists and Democrats, Gianni Pittella, has announced that these politics are over. We hope this opens up a new era when European progressives work together in order to break conservative hegemony in the EU and offer European citizens a future to look forward to. The ball is in the court of the Socialists and Democrats now.

The Greens/EFA group in the EP has nominated Jean Lambert as their candidate, in order to offer an alternative based on strengthening the EP’s role in European democracy. FYEG supports Lambert’s candidacy. She is an MEP with a solid track record who stands up for the fundamental values of the EU.

Lambert has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to freedom of movement. As Brexit negotiations begin and key elections are held in the Netherlands, France and Germany, where racist populists are doing their best to infest the elections with hatred and fear, the founding principle of freedom of movement is under threat and the European project needs a president who will stand up for it. Lambert has also worked on solutions to the continuing refugee crisis, calling for a humane approach in debates and discussions in the EP and by that giving a voice to the voiceless. It is of course no coincidence that Lambert is from the UK and fought hard to keep the country in the EU. As parliament president, she will ensure that the outcome of the Brexit negotiations is taking into account not only the interests of the rich and powerful in the UK and the rest of the EU.

 

Lambert is a positive contrast to many candidates for the position. For instance, the conservative European Peoples’ Party has decided to nominate Antonio Tajani for president. Tajani is known for having ignored repeated warnings, including from within the European Commission, about the car industry cheating on emission tests when he was Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship - several years before the Volkswagen scandal. Nominating a person who has manifested complete indifference for the health of European citizens and for the climate shows once more that the EPP is a party that rewards people who bow down to corporate lobbyists against the interests of people and planet.

FYEG calls upon the Members of the European Parliament to elect a President who represents the European project and citizenry in a dignified and forward-looking way. We can only fight national retreat, conservatism and blind neoliberal dictates with democracy, progressivism and an open Europe.

The Executive Committee and Future of Europe Working Group of FYEG