Monday, 13 July 2009

Who trades the horses in the European Parliament?

Tomorrow we can witness the opening session of the new European Parliament, with the very likely election of the not so good choice Jerzy Buzek.

EurActiv has an article (that is already dated for tomorrow although published today...) on the horse trading for the top posts in the European Parliament that has been going on over the last days, including a list of probable and possible committee chairs:
"The distribution of committee chairs has for the most part already been decided, on the basis of negotiations held last week and a distribution key which gives groups proportional representation according to their size."
What I ask myself is how much "ordinary" MEPs, in particular new ones, were involved in these "negotiations". How can completely new MEPs, after two weeks in office, know who will be the best committee chairs?

And I am not talking about the distribution of the chairs between the political groups which is basically a quite simple mathematical question. I even doubt that within the political group the selection of committee chairs can actually be based on the knowledge who would be the best, for the group, for the parliament, and for the respective policy field.

In this sense, the selection procedure cannot be truly inclusive but will favour a few political group elites, and probably those who are already longer in the parliament. Networks of established party politicians and proportional representation of countries/regions will thus dominate over collective trust and ability, power games over democratic selection procedures.

It think that, after the committee chairs have been agreed on, it will be really worth a look what background they have, also trying to understand why they have been chosen. For us "outsiders" - us citizens - it is pretty hard to intervene in this process before we have seen the results, but we should comment as soon as we know what we get.

Altogether, I am aware that this is not a particular feature of the European Parliament - but why should the EP copy all the bad aspects of traditional parliaments where it could be a beacon of light for a more transparent and more inclusive process...