How then to break this vicious circle? I believe there are two ways.Firstly, as Europe has gained power, and notably legislative power, we must work towards making these institutions fully democratic. This is the Lisbon treaty's aim: the parliament will finally live up to its name, holding legislative power together with government representatives and by voting in the commission's president who will become responsible for European executive policy. The European people's party (EPP) is already working on a solid legislative program, consistent across the 27 member countries, to present to voters. They are also preparing the candidate they will present for the commission's presidency. He (or she) will not only campaign in their own country, but in all member countries. If other European parties follow suit TV media will be forced to organise debates between them: the result? Barriers will start to crack. The next time they will crumble until finally, they will come down altogether. It will take time: two or three legislative elections? For this reason another type of action is needed, an action that cafebabel.com, amongst others is pioneering. Fundamental links from the ‘bottom up’ between all those who believe in Europe, who have chosen to live in this European environment, and who want to bring the political debate to life in a zone free from even the most transparent of barriers. Foreign workers, Erasmus students, multinational employees, those with holiday homes abroad, pensioners from northern Europe attracted by the warmth of life in the south, those involved in administrations and NGOs working for the European Union, sports professionals, artists, intellectuals committed to European cooperation, elected representatives of twinned towns and dual-nationality families must all work to create the nucleus of this kind of network. It will also take some displays of federal action. What about a communal petition signed by a million European citizens, an idea that the Lisbon treaty makes possible? Let's find a subject that motivates people enough to launch an initiative never seen before that will mark the true birth of European citizenship!'
The author is MEP for the European People's Party Translated from French to English by Susannah Readett-Bayley (firstname.lastname@example.org) Photos: Alain Lamassoure (webtissimo/ Flickr), journalists in the European parliament (eumiro/ Flickr)