Sunday, February 22, 2009

Presidential hopeful debates a better EU

A local MEP tipped to be European Parliament President says the UK could learn lessons from how Obama's election campaign revitalised American politics.

Liberal Democrats MEP Graham Watson says member states needs to contribute more to ensure the union operates more democratically.

He highlighted the recent successes in the US: "I think if you look at what's happened in the states over the last year, there's a lesson here for Europe. They have gone through a major process of renovation and change politically, through a public debate between Obama and McCain and this has reconnected citizens with the policy process."

Mr Watson explains he wants to be European Parliament President to improve communications and "to change the culture in this place, because it's a culture that takes very little account of what the citizens are feeling."

"I feel it's not working optimally, we're not succeeding in communicating Europe properly to our citizens and that should very much be the role of the parliament. I think the citizens don't feel currently that there is a contract between parliamentarians and citizens. There's a lot of work to be done in making this place more open and transparent."

The European Parliament is the only directly-elected body of the EU.

It has a central role in debating issues which effect citizens across the union, according to Mr Watson: "It's the parliament that has the greatest opportunities for a proper debate between different people, representing different political parties or political ideas that might infuse the citizen with going out and voting in European Parliament elections."

Citizens of EU member states vote for MEPs every five years. The next election is in June 2009.

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