Thursday 7 January 2010

Involving the public in the European Parliament Commission hearings: S & D's move

Involving a wider European audience in EU politics should be the goal of all those involved in building a pan-European democracy.

In a public statement, the Socialists & Democrats in the European Parliament now announce that they are taking questions from the public via email that could be asked during the hearings of the designated Commissioners next week.

They also announce that they want to keep the public informed via Twitter and other channels during the days of the hearings.

This sounds like a great move; maybe other political groups in the EP could follow their example?


Ralf Grahn said...


I agree with you that European politics and the European Parliament deserve more attention from the public. (National governments are only slowly waking up to the fact that they need to keep in touch with the EP/MEPs.)

But the mandate of the old Commission ended 1 November 2009, and the EP has been in no hurry to speed up the process - on the contrary.

We haven't had the three institutions working at cruise speed for almost a year:

There was no sense to send Commission proposals to a parliament on its last legs, cleaning the table from old initiatives before it effectively closed shop before the June European Parliament elections last spring.

After the elections, the EP organised itself, but has not had much input from the Commission.

Grandiose hearings may nurture the EP's self-esteem, but aren't working institutions more important?

Julien said...

I am not sure I am getting your point. What do the hearings have to do with the speed of legislation?

What I was saying is that it is good that S & D tries to create some attention around the nomination process of 26 people who will be in charge for 500 million Europeans over the next 5 years - if this isn't the task of the EP, why do we need a democratically elected body?

Ralf Grahn said...


It is not the speed of legislation, but the length of the 'interregnum' I find to be inordinately long.

When did the EP have its last substantive session last spring?

When are we going to have a new Commission based (indirectly, but still) on the June 2009 elections?

Julien said...

Oh okay, I agree on this one.

But that doesn't speak against citizens' involvement in the hearing, does it?

Ralf Grahn said...


No it doesn't. It's OK to engage citizens (although the proportions of the theatre feel like compensation for the absence of decisive input by Europarties and citizens).

Part of the long transition is due to the treaties as such, with different periods for the EP elections and the end of the old Commission mandate, part because of the long wait for the Lisbon Treaty to enter into force, but part because of the unwillingness to act promptly when the nominations were ready.

Could any functioning country (except Belgium) accept or afford such slow motion?