Anna van Densky On Sunday May 26 Europeans vote in an election expected to further erode traditional Eurocentric parties and boost the nationalist movements across the continent, resulting in a drastically different and difficult composition of the European Parliament – once a champion of compromise, – effecting the entire range of politics. (Image above: European Parliament, Strasbourg).
Polls opened at 7 A.M. (0400 GMT) in the east of Europe and will finally close at 11 P.M. (2100 GMT) in Italy. Seven states have already voted, with 21 joining in on Sunday in what is the world’s biggest democratic exercise after India.
Many feel it is odd, that three years after the referendum, Britonsare back to the European Parliament, and there are certain fears, that the entire EU political agenda will be “hijacked” by Brexit.
However it is universally understood, that after Brexitthe EUproject will never be the same. Departure of the oldest European parliamentary democracy feels like an amputation.
EU in transit. Tempora mutantur – times are changed, we also are changed with them.
The promotion of the former EU Industry top civil servant Antonio Tajani (Italy, EPP) from Barroso’s Commission to the position of the European Parliament president, once again demonstrates the failure of the institution to renew. The civil servants becoming politicians and politicians styled into mandarins, surfing freely between Schuman and Luxembourg squares, just hanging backdrop of the official photos, do not inspire confidence of the EU citizens, trying to figure out a raison d’être of the EU costly project, while getting increasingly confused between loyalties and separations of powers.
Nobody is going to held Antonio Tajani (63) responsable for a move of his former boss José-Manuel Barroso accepting a chairmanship at Goldman Sachs, however the maneuvering of Tajani as the Industry Commissioner to Member of the European Parliament (MEP), with a view of ascending to the top of the latter, makes the whole intrigue look more as a part of a chess game, than a progressive political process, reflecting public interest.
Once the spokesperson of Silvio Berlusconi, Tajani made a spectacular career in the EU institutions, coming just as a replacement of a departing for a national appointment college. With zero chance to receive a second mandate as a civil servant to ‘reign’ over the EU industry while rival party gained power at home, he returned to active politics in European elections to mold into a Member of the European Parliament immediately after
the end of his mandate in the Commission.
At present a much-anticipated farewell of twice a president of the European Parliament Martin Schulz (61),(Germany, S&D) evoked European People’s Party (EPP) to claim its rights, indicating that the second mandate of Schulz was already against all the odds, because according to the major agreement the five years Parliamentary term was divided between representatives of two biggest political groups EEP and Socialists and Democrats.
However the double mandate of five years of a Socialist did not become a window of opportunity to new political actors. No new generation, no new member-states, no new leaders, but the former Commission apparatchik from fading ‘Forza Italia’ party, claiming to be a brand new political group, led by one of the most controversial figures of Italian politics, four times Prime Minister – Silvio Berlusconi (80), whose lucky star is at decline.
Reportedly Tajani is campaigning, looking for support at home and among the other political groups in the European Parliament. The situation should be clarified mid-January, because Social democrats leader Gianni Pittella (IT, S&D) does not accept EEP president bid, claiming it will ruin the fine balance among the EU institutions, leaving socialists in minority in position of leadership.
The beginning of this year a long standing leader of EP Liberals – Guy Verhofstadt (63) (ALDE, Belgium) entered the presidential race, in hope for tactical votes.
However the chances of Mr.Tajani to raise to the summit remain high, thanks to support of his own political group – the most representative in the EP.
Still it looks the idea of renewal remains foreign to the Europarl, along with the idea of gender equality largely remaining a rhetoric exercise: since Simone Veil (1979-1982) no one women-politician ascended the president’s position, acutely no women before either.
The true impact of institutional stagnation expressed in reshuffling the very same people over and over again will be concluded at next Parliament elections, when the European citizens will come to drop their ballots, or will not come. So far last two decades the turnouts for European elections are in study decline.
A long journey of Turkey to the European Union clearly came to a halt
– in the European Parliament’s plenary there were just a few MEPs to
suggest the accession process should continue in spite of the dramatic
developments in the candidate country after the failed coup d’état.
The overwhelming majority of the MEPs called upon freezing the
accession process started back in 1999.They reiterated rhetoric
questions about honesty in evaluating current situation in Turkey as if
fitting the Copenhagen criteria of a democratic society. The
aftermath of the coup turned into tsunami of outrageous violations of
One doesn’t need to refer to the Amnesty International’s annual report
for the numerous evidences of torture, violations of freedoms of
speech, unfair trials, degradation of women’s rights. The laws
offering rapists to marry the victims scandalized the world, and
arrests of politicians and journalist became a left the most ardent friends
of Turkey speechless. The Kurdish issue has been set ablaze
with arrests of the co-leaders of the HDK party.
It looks the card of the significance of the Turkey NATO membership was
overplayed by president #Erdogan to such an extend that even the most
staunch supporters of accession process were running out of
The major fear of accession talks halt is the galloping Islamisation
of the Turkish society, which will certainly continue even at higher
speed without the outside stimulus as the EU membership to keep the
society secular. However the accession talks didn’t proof to be
successful so far as a tool of promoting European values in
Turkey, and it make little sense to pretend that keeping accession
formally open would introduce a major change with an exception of loss
of credibility in the eyes of Turkish people, who expect solidarity
The other issue which brings some hesitations over talks halt is
possibility of Turkey shifting closer to Russia, which is rather bleak
in view of ongoing Syrian conflict were positions of both countries
are difficult to aline.
There were also fears expressed that the freeze might solidify and become
permanent, meaning an end to an entire epoc of EU Enlargement policy.
These sentiments of regrets were challenged by MEP Charles Tannock (UK, ECR),
who reminded the fellow politicians that the accession of #Turkey played
a significant role in #Brexit vote. One can add that French
vote against EU Constitution (2005) was also influenced by an idea
of Turkey joining the EU.
Although overdue the move of taking distance from authoritarian Turkey,
increasingly reminiscent of the Ottoman Empire ruled by ‘Sultan’ #Erdogan,
it might still have a consolidating effect of the EU torn by multiple crisis es.
The decision to freeze the accession talks with Turkey is awaited
at the European Council in December.