Contrary to received wisdom, those of us in Brussels, MEPs as well as EU officials, are very aware of how we are seen. Even in far less Eurosceptic countries than Britain MEPs are seen as remote and unaccountable.
As the elected politicians it’s our job to do as much as we can to put this right.
I was therefore delighted with to see the European Citizens’ Initiative which is currently going through the European Parliament.
The European Citizens’ Initiative aims to allow anyone living in the EU to refer issues to the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers, establishing a direct link between the people of Europe and the European Union.
The Citizens’ Initiative, provided there is enough support, will allow those living in Europe to propose EU legislation. This is a powerful addition to our democracy, allowing as it does direct participation. It’s real devolution of power from the politicians to the people.
Given the size and reach of the European Union it would be surprising if this we didn’t face issues over democratic accountability. Those attempting to represent constituents in a democratic international organisation (the only one in the world) with a population of 500 million across 27 member states are going to face problems. Likewise, the people in these 27 countries will almost certainly feel the EU is a long way away.
The Citizens’ Initiative is a way forward allowing people not only a say but a concrete means of bringing about change. It’s good for all of us and a real example to our national parliamentarians.