European conscience

So we have elections again in two weeks time – ostensibly European elections, but who wants to bet that the only thing that will not be on the agenda are European affairs? The June polls are being anticipated with diminished interest by all EU member states who all have their domestic affairs as their chief criteria. However, the voters in individual countries are not to blame: The European Parliament may be the only European institutional body which is formed as the result of a strictly democratic procedure (by the votes of citizens) but the role it plays in European affairs is so weak that, in practice, the Parliament is no more than a «decorative» advisory council. Its decisions and resolutions do not have to be implemented, its proposals do not bind the European Commission, and its only real decisive function is the approval or rejection of the European budget – although it cannot make any amendments. The European Constitution, which is currently being debated, foresees some more substantial competencies for the European Parliament, but it will still never have a crucial and decisive role. So it is hardly surprising that it is viewed with indifference by citizens – even in countries where a «European conscience» is more developed, where the press devotes more space to European affairs than the Greek newspapers which only address them when they overlap with domestic concerns.

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