Karim: We owe it to voters to challenge the Brussels elite

30-Jun-2014 @ 9:0

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Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

British MEP Sajjad Karim will this week tell MEPs they owe it to European voters to reject the usual back-room "stitch-up" by backing him to become President of the European Parliament.


The Conservative MEP for North West England believes voters, having  made such a forceful call for change in the European elections just a few weeks ago, will simply not understand if the response from Brussels should simply be more of the same.


He said:  "The two main political groups in parliament believe there is nothing seriously wrong with the way Europe is run or the direction the EU is headed. The Liberal group has also backed their carve- up.

"By contrast, we believe there is a profound and urgent need for more openness, more clarity and more accountability to the public. So do the voters of Europe, if only the Brussels elite would listen...and the election of the Parliament's President is a prime example"


For decades the President of the EP has been decided by its two biggest groups the Socialist and Democrats, and European People's party. They have used their in-built majority to run a system of "Buggin's turn" in which behind-closed-door deals pass the presidency back and forth between their parties.  This year their candidate is the current EP president, Socialist Martin Schulz, after he missed out on his preferred options of becoming President of the Commission or landing some other senior Commissioner office.


Sajjad said: "I am standing because I believe it is time to challenge this cosy carve-up.  The current system is disreputable and arrogant. It treats Europe's voters and individual MEPs with equal contempt and tells them all they can do what they like – the outcome will be the same.  This is exactly why the EU and its elite are held in such low regard by the public right now."


In a direct appeal to MEPs, Sajjad will say: "Regrettably our election for President resembles a coronation not a contest.


"Rather than ignore the lessons of the election as an inconvenience standing in the way of business as usual, we must grasp the opportunity to show that the European Union can change. That is why I have accepted the nomination of the ECR Group to be their candidate for President and why I appear before you today to convince you that you have a choice."


In a speech that recalls his own upbringing in East Lancashire as the son of a  Pakistani immigrant bus conductor, he will say: " This Parliament must mirror the values of our European people: openness, tolerance, diveristy, equality and opportunity for all. These very values have also been a consistent theme of my work, and will be important as we grow as an institution over the next term.


Calling  for an end to the "travelling circus" of parliamentary meetings in both Brussels and Strasbourg, he has already told MEPs: " Voters have struggled to engage with a Parliament that is distant and often portrayed as wasteful. We cannot allow another election cycle to pass without addressing the question of the seat of the Parliament; I believe it's time that this issue will be raised with the European Council, as voted for last term.


"We must improve our Parliamentary procedures to encourage participation and debate, allowing the electorate to engage with the issues under discussion. Too often I look out across an empty plenary chamber, talking to the few and debating with no-one. It's time we had a chamber that holds a debate, not a series of one-minute press statements.


"The office of President is not a political loudhailer, allowing the holder to promote their agenda. It is not a post of self-aggrandisement, for building careers and seeking higher office. It is a responsible post for a responsible politician.


"Our Parliament deserves better than to be third choice, a consolation prize for candidates who felt destined for bigger things. The choice remains with you though, as Members you are empowered, not your party machines.


"My campaign is about making that choice and seizing the opportunity: a chance to show that the EU can change; that it can bring together the diverse range of political opinions and personal experiences as a strength of this Parliament, and that, above all, we can unite behind a candidate for President who respects the office and respects all MEPs."



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