Every month, 5000 people as well as 8 trucks full of documents and records commute from Bruxelles to Strasbourg for the European Union.
If it were for the members and deputies, the plenary debates would have been long abolished. Two of the arguments that support their position are the unnecessary CO2-emissions and the fact that the Strasbourg building has to be maintained for a whole year even though it's used for only 42 days. One single conference venue would be enough.
But giving up this sitting is out of the question for France. The beneficiaries of this traffic are surely the hoteliers, who double the room rates and thus their profits.
For the population all this just turned into a travelling circus that symbolises the actual bureaucratic madness.
An NZZ (Neue Zürcher Zeitung - CH) correspondent, who's responsible for the EU, the Nato and the Benelux countries and who wrote the book «Europa zwischen Populisten-Diktatur & Bürokraten-Herrschaft» («Europe between populist dictatorship/tyranny and bureaucratic domination»), had a lot to say about his experience with the organisation in the EU, with critiques and suggestions for improvement.
The institutional network of the European policy is hardly transparent. The parliament building in Strasbourg is a multidimensional labyrinth with glass elevators, overlapping suspension bridges and intertwined spiral staircases, whose corridors and cafés teem with a unique tangle of languages, a swarm of politicians, lobbyists and parliamentary assistants. The interpreter booths in the plenary room are always fully loaded. Just to give you an idea of their jobs' extent: there are 751 delegates and 24 different official languages, which result in 276 language combinations. No wonder that the written, oral and juridical translation works make up roughly one fourth of the Parliament's expenses.
This year's elections of the EU Parliament (23rd - 26th May) are also called the fateful elections, yet the Parliament is not the most powerful institution of the EU. The European elections are the sum of 28 parallel polls in separate constituencies/ electoral districts and on the basis of national rules. Transnational fractions and party families are weak structures here.
Even though the refugee and the euro crisis, the Brexit and - paradoxically - the rise of nationalistic EU opponents have ensured an Europeanisation of the national public opinions, the Parliament still doesn't have much word on bigger problems.
The overpowering institution here is the European Commission, with the right to propose new laws and the occupation of about 32'000 employees. Each member state has one Commissioner, which leads to the absurdly large number of 28 Commission members.
On top of that, the EU Council's/ Council of Ministers' lack of transparency sparks political-democratic issues; it follows more of a diplomatic logic (instead of a political one), since sensitive topics always get shifted forward, whereas in front of the camera the government officials only read off some soporific opinions. The composition of the Council of Ministers also shows some flaws regarding the separation of powers, since the same politicians, wo have executive tasks at national level, suddenly become legislators. The solution? The journalist suggests that the commission members of the national parliaments should be part of the EU Council. This way opposition parties would also be represented.
When talking about media workers, the reporter Niklaus Nuspliger explains how the 4000 professionals at the EU Summit are given impromptu workplaces at the entrance of the building and how they all sit divided in the respective nations.
The media feeds off government leaders carrying out conflicts, even though the interest varies according to the country, and the national fragmented reporting of presidents, chancellors and prime ministers make sure that plenty of questionable decisions are talked about. Still, the differences between the reports often set minimalist or kept silent, while people love exaggerating about alleged negotiation successes.
That's exactly what we've seen with former British prime minister David Cameron, who claimed to have single-handedly prevented the creation of an European army, even though no one at the summit had raised this demand.
NZZ am Sonntag - Im Labyrinth Europas (Niklaus Nuspliger)
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