The power of the European parliament is limited. The more influence the EU gets, the more important it becomes that the European Parliament has real power. There is consensus that the EP now lacks power, and that it should become more important in the political games between the council, the commission and the parliament.
The positions of the debaters in the EP power debate were remarkable this week. The wishes for a strong European Parliament were represented by a former Prime minister, while the leader of one of the most important parties in the European parliament represented the lack of willpower to put the EP in a central position.
First position was the European Parliament accepting its position in the EU. This time, it was German MEP Martin Schulz - leader of the Socialist Group in the European Parliament - that took the weak position. He stated, according euractiv quoting FT Germany, that even if the PES (Socialist Group) in the EP would become the biggest and defeats the EPP (conservative and christian group), he would not expect a socialist to become the President of the European Commission. According to Schulz, the president would still be from the EPP, since the majority of the European Governments are center-right now. WHAT??? If the people vote Socialist, then the socialist leader is defending the governments being center-right? Isn’t voting for the EP supposed to serve the people making a decision where the EU should be heading too? And isn’t the President of the Commission the person that has the most infuence on this direction? He is the one that can propose new rules, and he is negotiating with everyone. When the Lisbon treaty would be accepted, he also is the one chairing the Council and presenting the EU outside.
Schulz is right that officially the Council does a proposition to the Parliament for the appointment of a President of the Commission. But it is the Parliament that can accept or refuse the candidate. If the Parliament already accepts that the council is not following the will of the people, who should think the Parliament will gain power at all?
Schulz should have a socialist candidate, present this person to the European People and have this person challenge Barosso. Public debates being broadcasted in all EU countries could follow. That would make people understand what choices can and will be made with their vote. And make them willing to vote. The Council then could only suggest this person and see other candidates being refused by Parliament. But no, Schulz implicitly says the EP has no influence on the direction the EU is going.
Luckily, we have Guy Verhofstadt too. This former Prime Minister of Belgium decided to run for a seat in the EP. And he knows what he wants. On sunday morning in Buitenhof, the most important discussion television programm of the Dutch television, he got half an hour to tell his plans. You can agree with him or not - that is not my point here -, he showed that the European Parliament could have power. That is, if a majority of members would not be as weak and passive as Schulz.