Today Jerry Buzek (the former Polish Prime Minister) will make his inaugural speech in Strasbourg, you can watch it Live Online. The new Chairman of the EP, has set out his key priorities for this two-and-a-half-year mandate. Quite obviously he states that his first priority is to tackle the financial and economic crisis, and that is why he thinks the European Parliament must act to set the conditions so that the EU can create sustainable jobs. So further stages of the economic recovery plan will be debated and voted on in Parliament.
Firstly, from the economic point of view, in the coming months MEPs will have to decide how to apply capital requirements to all types of financial institutions, including hedge funds and private equity vehicles. In this sense, the EU summit next Thursday will be an acid test of the European will to continue to take measures to support the green shoots of economic recovery.
Secondly, on climate change, the EP has played a crucial role in adopting the EU's climate change package in record time, just 11 months, which aims to ensure that the EU will achieve its climate targets by 2020, i.e. a 20% decline in greenhouse gas emissions, a 20% improvement in energy efficiency and a 20% share of renewables in our energy mix. The EP will have an active oversight role, as soon as there is the new mandate after the Copenhagen Summit next December. Also energy security will be a key point...
"When one turns the tap, one expects the gas to run"... Well, maybe, because the recent energy crisis has proved that we can't take this for granted. The answer is diversification of energy supply, as well as routes and sources.
Thirdly, there are two immediate institutional changes, 1) the approval process for the European Commission, and 2) the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. Once Lisbon enters into force, the European Parliament will have 751 MEPs, bearing in mind that the Treaty raises the minimum number of members to be returned by any Member State to 6 so as to ensure that all countries are effectively represented. No Member State can return more than 96 MEPs. Also the Parliament’s role has been enhanced, for example in relation to the EU budget and through the extension of areas to which co-decision with the Council of Ministers will apply. In fact, the EP currently votes on only 80% legislation, the Treaty of Lisbon increases this to 95%; this is known as the ordinary legislative procedure.
In a recent interview Buzek has pointed out that "the EU is based on the values of democracy, freedom of speech, respect for human rights and the rule of law, and solidarity with those less fortunate. I myself fought for these values through my work in the Solidarity movement in the 1980s".
Can the European Parliament legitimize the European Union? It can help, as the EP is the only direcly elected body, and thus the most democratic. Best luck for Buzek and hope the MEPs do their work and really think of new ways, new answers, value-added politics to the benefit of us all the Europeans.