EU parliament gets a new head – does anyone care?
Pat Cox, Joseph Borrell, Hans-Gert Poettering and now Jerzy Buzek. What do they have in common ? For those outside the EU bubble in Brussels, Polish conservative Buzek was elected on Tuesday as the new president of the European Parliament, following in the footsteps of the others mentioned above.
But does anyone really care ?
I asked on Facebook if anyone could name the previous two presidents and from those of my friends who do not work in any of the European Union institutions, I received numerous responses ranging from Barack Obama to Seamus & Sheila McSpud.
In his first media interview after taking over as the head of the EU’s directly elected assembly in 2007, Poettering told me he was going to make the European Parliament one of the best-known legislatures in the world.
Poettering’s closeness to German Chancellor Angela Merkel was supposed to give him a greater voice and increase parliament’s influence over EU legislation, notably on climate change and financial regulation.
But even with greater media coverage of the EU’s co-legislature, notably of the committees responsible for these important areas of competence, June’s election still resulted in a record-low turnout and further diluted public opinion of the parliament.
So, can former Polish Prime Minister Buzek — the first assembly president from a former Soviet bloc country — succeed where his predecessors failed and put the European Parliament on the international map ? I doubt it.