Bringing Decision-Making closer to Citizens Would Strenghten Trust in the EU

29 October 2013, Last updated at, 13:24 EEST
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Founder of COSAC, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the French Republic Laurent Fabius. | author: O. Posaškova

During the L COSAC anniversary meeting at the Seimas, event participants discussed the COSAC contribution to strengthening interparliamentary cooperation within the European Union (EU), the coming European Parliament elections, and the future of the EU.

The founder of COSAC, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the French Republic and the former President of the National Assembly of the French Republic, Laurent Fabius, emphasised that the reasons that encouraged COSAC establishment in 1989 had not lost relevance today, but on the contrary had grown. According to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of France, when proposing to establish COSAC he was seeking to give national parliaments the opportunity to participate in the life of a structure, which at that time was not even called the EU, and to stimulate interparliamentary cooperation between national parliaments and the European Parliament.

Laurent Fabius emphasised that the EU is increasingly faced with the distrust of citizens disappointed by political solutions unable to handle the crisis and other challenges. “Most Europeans continue to support the idea of the EU, but they critically evaluate its governance. A way to narrow this gap, which allows doubting the democratic legitimacy of the EU, would be to facilitate more approachable decision-making for citizens. Having great ideas, a legal basis and a common policy is not enough. The ideas, provisions and policy should correspond to citizens’ expectations,” stated the founder of COSAC. According to him, each member state should organise discussions about the European Union, while the Commission should visit member states to introduce itself to representatives of nations and explain current policy, and answer questions and requests. In the words of Laurent Fabius, in order for people to regain trust in Europe, it is necessary to improve cooperation between parliamentary assemblies in EU decision-making. “Cooperation between the Commission, Council, Parliament and national parliaments should be strengthened at all decision-making levels,” he added.

When speaking about the forthcoming 2014 European Parliament elections, the former President of the European Parliament Pat Cox drew attention to the populist parties that have become popular during the economic recession. “I dare say that the new European Parliament will probably comprise one-third Eurosceptic- and populist-parties. They will have a strong influence on the other two thirds, who will have a big responsibility to find a way forward,” he said. Based on opinion polls, he added there isn’t complete support from citizens, and that this is the biggest challenge facing the EU. “If we can’t change Europe to satisfy the main needs of the people, we will be defeated,” he concluded.

 

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