GovNews Week 2 – 17th March

Here are a few of last week’s highlights from GovFaces:

 

1. Basic level of benefits throughout the EU?

Asked whether the EU should consider “a basic level of benefits” that migrants are entitled to wherever they go, MEP Liberadzki agreed that the European Council could propose such a measure and stated his support for the idea.

2. Does Germany have too much power in the EU decision-making process?

The issue can be analyzed at three levels, according to MEP Liberadzki:

– 16% of EU citizens and 12,9% of MEPs are German.

– At the European Commission, German staff is by far underrepresented compared to other member states.

– Germany’s strength, however, is in the European Council.

Overall, MEP Liberadzki considers Germany not to be overrepresented and mentioned his very good working relations with the German staff.

3. Why not have a central European railway company?

There are already companies which operate trans-nationally, such as DB Schenker Rail (part of Deutsche Bahn) operating in 12 member states and providing “seamless cross border rail freight trains.”

As far as passenger services, companies like Thalys and Eurostar already operate across borders. Liberadzki conceded that there is a lack of infrastructure (most evident at cross-border stations).

Creating one big EU rail operator, however, would only harm the competitiveness of the industry.

 4. A common European identity?

MEP Nathalie Griesbeck was asked two questions relative to ‘European consciousness:’ the feeling that, as Europeans, we share a common political future to some extent.

She answered that the European flag, designed by the Council of Europe, was introduced in 1950 and became the official symbol of the EU in 1985. Since then, the flag is used by all the organs of the EU and stands beside the national flag in many cases: this shows the place of the EU in citizens’ daily lives.

Having a European consciousness is needed for the future of the EU, and it with appear only through the hard work of all – Europe, Member States and above all citizens – to that aim, because Europeans will endorse the European project when they will realize the pros outweigh the cons.

Symbols such as the European flag are a first step, but more democracy and accountability are needed. Europeans must exchange, meet each others, and understand their common history and culture – the ERASMUS scheme is one great example.

Elected officials must do a better job of communicating with the public about European matters, and in this regard the next elections must be political and about truly European. A European sphere must appear, where citizens can recall the political leaders and movements.

Finally, the channels of citizen participation (European Citizens’ Initiative, public consultations of the Commission) must be better understood.

Other MEPs have also activated their profiles and have begun answering questions, for example Corinne Lepage or Franco Figo. With 16 MEPs now active on the platform and more joining each week, we hope to see you on GovFaces, getting answers to the questions you are most interested in!

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