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Some would clearly say yes. Others will just look at you with big open eyes and ask what you are on about?!
When sitting in Brussels and dealing with EU affairs, the Lisbon Treaty is a BIG thing because it gives more power to Brussels to make policies and legislation which will directly impact businesses and the lives of millions of people and, ultimately, move the EU cause forward, dare I say, positively.
But if you are a citizen sitting in your armchair, what would you be thinking?
“Oh god, more interference from Brussels, more power to those grey technocrats who will simply come up with more rules to bend or unbend my bananas, perhaps even change the natural orange colour of my carrots, or better still tell me where to place my electric plug in relation to my bidet – at least to those Europeans who know what they are supposed to be used for!”
If you are a businessperson sitting at your desk, you will be considering what new laws Brussels will come up with which will impact, and most probably, restrict the way you do my business, which means you will need to spend more time, resources and money representing and defending your interests when all you really want to do is go about doing your business!
And here lies the irony. In their wisdom, those who came up with the Lisbon Treaty, aka the Constitution, wanted to make a better Europe, one that would work more efficiently, that would conform to citizens’ wishes, one that would get the thumbs up from the Europeans. Yet, on the whole we Europeans do not understand what the EU is about. Only 47% turned up to elect the new Parliament – the institution with at least the same amount of power to that of the Member States, but the only one actually elected by the people – and in many instances the EU is an unknown quantity…sorry to say this, but this is the majority perception.
So, what should we make of all this? It comes down to communications from Brussels to the Member States, but also the buy-in from the Member States themselves – that is surely the greatest challenge. Our respective governments and parliaments have to become de facto EU allies, rather than partners in crime, but this will take a long time. The good news, however, is that we have plenty of it…after all the European Union, now for the first time a legal entity, is only 52 years old – “barely out of nappies” to some; “in the prime of life” to others.
MEPs voting and attendance records to Committee and Plenary sessions are being duly scrutinised since VoteWatch.eu was launched on 11 May (see Close-up on voting records). Several MEPs have already been hauled over the coals (sometimes unfairly) and suddenly been put into the uncomfortable position of justifying a weak score. Transparency is definitely the order of the day and this is no bad thing.
But who is scrutinising candidates who already know that they will never, ever, take up a seat in Strasbourg? How many of these ghost-candidates top their party lists for the EU elections across Europe? Does honesty carry less weight than transparency?
Today, the 9th of May, marks Europe Day – an occasion established to commemorate the anniversary of Robert Schuman’s proposal for the creation of an organised Europe. Today we celebrate the very essence of what Europe is and what it means to be European.
Here at Grayling we wanted to revel in this European spirit in which people meet and connect with each other by going live with our very own blog called “The Lobby”. The Lobby is about the EU institutions, Brussels, and the world of EU public affairs and public relations. Sporadically it touches upon music, good food, art, technology, and unfair referees…all the things that make for everyday conversation.
Feel free to enter The Lobby, have a wander, a ponder and read about what’s hot in Brussels; pick up our latest publications on the “Coffee Table”; hear the latest gossip on “Place Lux” and of course you are more than welcome to share your views with us!
Wishing you an enjoyable Europe Day!
– Maxime, Rob, and Emil