11 January 2017
We are in a shifting political landscape and there is a need for EU to find its place and its purpose as we face major challenges. The European Parliament must be a standard-bearer for human rights and democracy, solidarity and environmental progress. The President is our face to the world and must be a strong proponent of these values.
In helping to shape our common future, and for the EP to fulfil its own role as the directly elected representatives of the people of the EU, we have to ensure our own house is in order and that we are an ‘open’ institution in our everyday work.
We should be:
– More transparent: the new President will have to ensure our recent rule changes, on opening up the law-making process, lobbyists, MEP interests. We will need a strong ethics Committee as well.
– More independent: we can do a better job of holding the Commission to account and following up on our decisions; we need enquiry committees decided on by Parliament alone and with tougher powers. We are a stronger institution if we have a truly independent civil service
– More environmentally conscious: we can cut our use of plastic, promote energy efficiency and reduce our carbon footprint – a Single Seat for the Parliament would help do this.
– More inclusive: of civil society in terms of developing more ‘structured’ dialogue, as required by the Treaties; of political groups of all sizes in our decision-making; in our composition – gender-balance is still an issue across our institutions but diversity as a whole also matters
– More socially responsible: the EP should ensure the rights and well-being of its workers, not least by improving the working conditions of those on ‘precarious’ contracts
I believe that Parliament’s President should be the voice of Parliament and not the voice of a single political group. That’s not to deny that this is obviously a political role, but that role is to represent the values and views of a democratically elected Parliament and not to use it as a personal platform.
I’m convinced that, today, the EP needs a President who isn’t a ‘usual suspect’ in terms of coming across as a Brussels insider. It’s true that I’ve been an MEP for a long time but I’m from a smaller political group, am often critical of EU policies and a passionate advocate for those who have benefitted least while living in possible the world’s richest region.
As some have pointed out, I’m also British. Neither myself, nor my political group of the Greens/EFA feel that this should disbar me from the Presidency of this house. Indeed – it may well be the last chance MEPs have to elect a British President! The UK Referendum last year means that I have thought a great deal about the value of the EU and the need to communicate that to the people of the European Union. Because I feel so strongly about the value of the EU and because I am proud to represent the people of the UK (London in particular), I know that the UKs’ exit from the EU must be, as far as is a possible, a win-win process and I am clear that it must not damage the future prospects of the EU.
We face many challenges today – we are stronger when we promote the values of democracy, universal human rights and solidarity on a sustainable planet together. I would be honoured to work with you all as your President on this basis.
Watch Jean’s video statement here