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Europe: next question, please

How to communicate Europe to the world? And more than that, how to communicate Europe to European citizens? What are the challenges Europe will face with the elections for the parliament in June?


Looking for answers to these questions and also to put others over the table, on the afternoon of this Friday we had the so-awaited presence of the president of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Pottering, to talk at Hotel Brufani.


The president was extremely positive on his conception of Europe, and “Europeans, unite” seems to have been the main message he wanted to convey to the audience, calling attention of citizens to look for Europe specially in these times for the next Parliament presidency elections to come. After having reasoned about the importance of the G-20 summit going on and European Parliament elections in two months to happen, Pottering highlighted that “the European economic model is not capitalism, is the social market economy”, adding that the market has to serve the people (not the opposite), and that’s why Lisbon Treaty was ratified.


He emphasized the importance of the European Parliament as the voice of the people at European Union, and reassured the urgent need of more information on the EU  – and about the Parliament, more specifically – available and accessible to citizens so they can integrate and unite in search for a better European society. Pottering showed himself confident on “building unity through diversity”, and also revealed reluctance to the need of unanimity in what concerns referenda, because “it’s always difficult to please everyone”, and being so, there should be a consensus instead of a unanimous decision (for him, the “yes” from Czech Republic on Lisbon Treaty will be harder to get than the Irish, but this is also something time will tell). And, he added, though EU is a complex structure, we should never give up on understanding it  – and here journalists have a really relevant role, on communicating the right idea to the population. And for this grasping to be true, “Europeans need passion and patience, and work harder to build and unite Europe than those who want to destroy it”. Talking of it, he cited the comment of the former American secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, when he talked about the “old Europe”, showing transparency when saying that he wasn’t afraid of criticizing Rumsfeld in public because they had already talked about this issue in another occasion.


About the changes in the Parliament, Pottering said that among the changes that will happen, immigration, asylum and trade policies won’t be the same. And this is a necessary evolution, as he said, because EU brought and will keep on bringing real changes to people’s lives, such as it was with the lowering of roaming taxes, funding for Erasmus programme and with the Euro itself as the currency that made Europe stronger besides economically and socially more equilibrated.


And talking about unity once more, Pottering evidenced the idea that people should “see Europe as a family”, where you convive and deal with the differences, and also that Europeans shouldn’t give ears to ideas that threaten to break this solidarity. “We have to have patience and communicate and listen to each other”, because “Europe is a compromise, not just a cooperation between countries”, and being so, it’s very important to defend EU’s institutions and its communitarian system (mainly the single market idea and the stability of European currency).


Another idea he added was that of the importance of EU constructive positioning on international issues, such as the Georgian crisis and the questions involving Russia and the energy supplies to countries such as Poland, for example. Furthermore, he added: “Instead of criticizing America, Europeans should be ready to take action”. A call for responsibility for European young generation – but still quite romantic for a family who is negotiating the entrance of a turkish brother in the house or has to deal with crescent pressure concerning immigration policies. We all hope the story will have a happy ending.  


Meghie Rodrigues

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