Let's talk about Europe

MEPs’ (silent and unnoticed) revolt

MEPs just after the resolution vote on the EU draft budget, the 13th of March in Strasbourg

MEPs just after the resolution vote on the EU draft budget, the 13th of March in Strasbourg

While Europe – and the whole world – was looking at the conclave which elected Jorge Bergoglio, new Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, Members of the European Parliament adopted a resolution rejecting the Multiannual Financial Framework harshly negotiated within the European Council on the last February.

Backed by five parliamentary groups (Socialist and democrat, liberal, conservative, ecologist and radical left), the text was hugely adopted by 506 votes against 161 only. Although this vote is quite surprising – MEPs already announced their intention to reject the draft EU budget – it is still a very important even historic vote for some reasons.

Often seen a weak and with hardly any political courage, the European Parliament looked for reaffirming its willingness to not adopt the current MFF but also its willingness to be more regarded by the European Commission and the European Council, in other words to see its prerogatives respected and be respected as an institution. Indeed, via this vote, the Brussels and Strasbourg assembly wants to show it is useful but also in a better position to defend the EU citizens’ interests, at the moment many people throughout the Union are a more and more and stronger and stronger scepticism vis-à-vis the European integration.

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Nonetheless – and it is useful to be mentioned – the MEPs’ vote of distrust has obviously a political meaning. Indeed, and on the perspective of the June 2014 European Elections, the EP must, as we said before, prove its utility and by this vote, MEPs play their credibility vis-à-vis the voters. This is a genuine communication trick for an institution which still has an important deficit of image whereas its powers and prerogatives kept being reinforced for years via the successive treaties.

Nevertheless, the wave provoked by the EP negative vote had a very weak echo, in France especially. The new Pope Francis is probably responsible but also the MEPs and the EP due to the weak effectiveness of their own communication as Fabien Cazenave, French blogger and EU issues specialist, highlights with relevance. In other words, despites its historic aspect, the EP-yesterday-vote passed unnoticed insofar as the piece of information was very few broadcasted, only concerning people interested in European affairs.

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Trade unions demonstrating against austerity measures at Parc du Cinquentaire (Brussels, Belgium) near European Council headquarters)

Although we deplore this lack of communication, the European Parliament’s position has been very important – even if it looks like a political posture on the perspective of the next European elections – meaning that this assembly is not ready to step back and wants to be considered by the EU other institutions better, especially by the European Council, prelude to a ping-pong match between the MEPs (representing citizens) and the heads of State and government who will not have another choice to review their positions. The MEPs’ signal, even if it was unnoticed by most Europeans unfortunately, is finally well arrived to Angela Merkel’s, François Hollande’s, David Cameron’s ears, a signal sent by some 15,000 protesters mobilized by the European Trade Unions Confederation against austerity measures at Parc du Cinquentaire (near the European Council headquarters) in Brussels on the last Thursday afternoon.

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