What are the European Alternatives? #AskEurope
The Election Party in Berlin was a success. Last Saturday, we were debating with three MEPs about their positions and proposals for the next European Parliament. Having just returned from Transeuropa Caravans with a lot impressions and new ideas in our pockets, we wanted to debate with some (future) members of the European Parliament their proposals and see how they fit with the proposals that form part of the Citizens Manifesto. We asked everyone to pose questions in advance via twitter using #askEurope.
Three MEPs joined us for the debate on their positions: Helmut Scholz (Die LINKE/ European LEFT), Michael Cramer (B'90/Grüne / European Green Party) and Alexandra Thein (FDP/ ALDE Party). They had to face questions about the narrative of the Europen Union in the 21st century, the free trade agreement TTIP, the democratic deficit within the EU, the rise of far- right parties all over Europe and more questions coming from the audience.
The biggest gap between the Greens and Left on the one hand and the ALDE Party on the other hand emerged on the question on TTIP and its lack of transparency. Alexandra Thein fervently supported the process and TTIP itself while the candidates from the Left and the Greens were critical of the fact that TTIP negotiations happend behind closed doors without citizens consultations. The point on TTIP definitely set the debate on fire for this evening!
On several other issues the politicians, all from the smaller parties (as the candidate from the Social Democrats cancelled last minute), agreed that the EU needs to engage more directly with the public and increase participation rights for citizens. The three of them also accused the media to hold a TV debate with only the two main parties (Party of European Socialists - SPD and European People's Party - CDU/CSU) and also lamented the fact it already seems set which of their leaders will become the new head of the European Commission.
The main idea that stuck out from this evening was that the EU is just as effective and popular as the member states want it to be. It seems we are still a way to go before we overcome our national bias and move towards a transnational democracy or even a federal Europe. The moderator Jon Worth led the discussion brilliantly and we want to thank all politicians for a very lively and intimate debate at Cafe Engels in Neukölln and for staying on to debate with the audience until late.
A performance by the European Commission to cut the participation rights (public action in front of Brandenburger Tor)
Strukturwandel Jetzt - Kein Nochten II (open-pit mining in Lusatia/ Lausitz)