SP group to invite EU’s victims to party in European Parliament

13 March 2017

SP group to invite EU’s victims to party in European Parliament

March 21st will be a day of celebrations at the European Parliament in Brussels. The festivities, which include meetings in the hall used for plenary meetings, will last the whole day and are being held to mark the 70th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome. Every Euro-MP has been given the right to invite five members of the public to a real ‘citizen’s parliament’ to be held that afternoon. Anne-Marie Mineur and I are therefore delighted to be able to bring ten people, all expenses paid, to Brussels for the day, the idea being that each will make it clear why he or she feels that they are a victim of the EU. It’s time the EU got some of this thrown back at it.

Last week I heard for the first time of these plans devised by the EP information service: to better involve the public in the EU and its Parliament, the service proposed a meeting of a true citizens’ parliament with precisely the same membership level as the EP itself, ie 751. The plan was thought up at the last minute which is why just about any EU member state citizen who happened to be visiting the EP that day would be, as it were, dragged into the plenary hall in order to participate ‘spontaneously’ in this parliament. The service was clearly not of the opinion that MEPs would succeed in finding five constituents who wanted to come to Brussels. We in the SP did not of course let things get that far, but we would do this in our own way and invite citizens who would speak out in a critical way.

In the last twenty-five years the EU has become a plaything of neoliberalism and partying has been for the most part for the multinationals. We want to show what the EU has meant for ordinary people, how many victims it has been responsible for: the lorry driver who has lost out badly to competition from cheap labour from eastern Europe; the postal worker who thanks to EU laws has lost his or her job; the family that can’t get social housing because they earn just too much to come under the income threshold agreed with Brussels; or the small businesspeople driven up the wall by EU rules. The list is endless. And we’ll be asking the participants to make it clear in their clothes or with symbols just why they feel themselves to be victims of the European Union.

Don’t expect too much from the discussions in this ‘citizen’s parliament’. Top prize will be the chance to put a question to one or more of the political group chairs. But it won’t be only in the hall, but outside it, that we are going to ensure that the victims’ message is filmed, and we’ll spread the message further. If we want to peg the EU back, we can’t allow this chance to pass us by.

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