The second day session was marked by European countries coming together with one specific event in mind – The next European Parliament elections that have been scheduled for May 2019. Since the dawn of its existence, the main struggle of the union has always been the utmost necessity of being truly “European” rather than “nationalist” in all terms since it does not concern neither one nor two but 28 countries among which the delegations of Belgium, France, Lithuania, Germany, Romania, Ireland and many other European members were present at today’s session to voice out their opinions on particular issues.
An aftermath of the Brexit
The Brexit has undeniably been of substantial consequences to the union and its members. The Transnational list is one of the process that followed the Brexit. Let me remind you that the Transnational list would allow citizens to vote for the same MEPs throughout Europe. Despite being an old policy that dates back to the 90s, it is still being called into question today; The delegations of Hungary and Czech Republic wish to preserve their own sovereignty and identity while Romania, Sweden, Malta have supported France in this issue as they see it as an innovative form of democracy in the 21st century. Romania however believes that 2019 may be too early to implement such a policy and pushing it forward to 2024 may come out with more fruitful outcome.
Abstention – Solutions put forward
Another challenge that the council has to face is the abstention of its members and several delegates present have shown their concern on the matter. France pointed at the 54% abstention in the 2014 elections; Sweden with 70% as well as many other members who have been victims of such outcome. After few minutes of discussion with other members, Lithuania proposed to impose sanctions on members of council while Sweden believes that making online voting possible could help into making this procedure a more democratic one. In spite of having a relatively positive result, Ireland is not yet satisfied with its situation and wishes to encourage young voters to be more active and its delegation wants to attribute more incentive to media campaigns to improve this issue. Ireland stressed on the responsibility of citizens as members of the council to vote. We welcomed during the second half of the session the delegation of Germany represented by one of the chairs himself who also sees voting as a way of giving voice to citizens.
Social media as one the devil necessities of the 21st century – Russian intervention
Following the intervention of Ireland, the issue of abstention has evoked questions on social media and its impacts today on Europe’s transactions. Belgium believes that voting should be kept free, opposing the idea of Czech Republic of imposing voting on citizens. Ireland on one hand pointed at the lack of interest of the European Council on social media; since no official information is provided on their behalf, news is very often misled. Slovenia, Sweden as France shown their support and interest in putting multi skilled measures on social media platforms.
Russia – To trust or not to trust?
Russian intervention has been a matter of concern these days and some delegations have even called into question the credibility of Russia in the union which was right away dismissed by Austria, Hungary and Denmark who see Russia as an important allying member. Russia have been accused of sending fake news which have once again arisen the fragilities of media today. Belgium emphasised that freedom of press is one of the pillars of the council and Russia, being a member of the council, cannot be stopped from sending news as long as they have not been proved fake. The delegations have highlighted the necessity of filling technological gap, fighting hackers and improving the security system in general.
A competent commission president – A quest
Members express their concern about the future choice of their commission president and Ireland has been encouraging the council to find a more democratic process for the election. Hence, communication proves to be an important tool between the council and European Parliament because even if the Parliament makes the final decision, it is the council who sets the way forward. The repartition of UK vacant seats was treated and while Greece and Ireland have favoured the option of keeping the seats vacant for new comers, some delegations preferred that seats were redistributed. At the end of the day, while treating all these issues, what matters most to European delegations remains European unity and the promotion of peace, security and economic development with a competent and responsible leader guiding them. As a combined and united body, the council is working hand in hand towards a better, safer and more prosperous future for all of its members.
“The European Union is here to stay” – Federica Mogherini