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Interview with Pat Cox, President of European Parliament
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by Constitutional Convention
07 the future of Countries & Democracies
21 February, 2002
1.What are your expectations for the Convention on the Future of Europe?
Pat Cox, President of European Parliament:
"I very much hope that the Convention will start the process of reconnecting the citizens with the European Union and of communicating what Europe is all about. It is time for a genuine reform so that we can work together to create a Europe fit for its future. It is a very positive sign that for the first time the candidate countries are having a real say in the creation of our common European future."
2.What role do you see in the Convention for the members of the European Parliament?
"I am very proud of the fact that it was the European Parliament which created, developed, and won the argument in favour of a Convention. It was the members of the European Parliament who argued in favour of a new way of creating the new Europe - in favour of an open and democratic and transparent way - which allows us to get in touch with a rising generation of Europeans who are untouched by business done behind closed doors.
Members of the European Parliament represent the voices of the peoples of Europe. They have a special responsibility to promote the European interest over narrow national concerns, and to ensure that the Convention seizes the opportunity to make a real difference to the European system.
Our determination as Parliament is to promote the democratic Europe over the technocratic Europe and to insist on openness."
3.What can the members of the Convention do to increase democracy and transparency in the European system?
"The Treaty of Nice showed beyond a doubt that the old intergovernmental method cannot prepare the EU for the challenges of today and the opportunities of tomorrow. The EU of tomorrow needs a more efficient decision-making system, and institutions which are understandable and accessible to the public. These goals can only really be achieved if the Convention seizes this opportunity to constitutionalise the process, setting down a clear definition of rights and responsibilities and checks and balances."
4.What would you say to those who claim that the Convention will be just another talking shop?
"The Convention is a real opportunity to move the debate about the future of Europe out from behind closed doors and into the public domain. The old permissive consent to allow the European elite to proceed is no longer there in the old way and so we must earn the consent and respect of a rising generation.
We will only have real democracy in Europe when we have succeeded in persuading the people of Europe of the relevance of the EU to their lives.
Of course, the Convention must show that it is serious about engaging public interest and about conducting its work in an open and transparent manner. Otherwise a valuable opportunity will have been lost.
In that context I have asked the European Parliament services, in terms of connecting this debate to the wider public, to ensure that the proceedings of the Convention are broadcast on a continuous basis on the internet by video-streaming, so that those who wish to follow the work of the Convention - whether they are journalists, people working in research institutes, students in universities, different groups in the socio-economic sphere in Europe - but who are not in Brussels for its work, can do so on a regular basis."
Please also take a look at the:
Club of Amsterdam Forum
and the Club of Amsterdam event about
'Re-Inventing Democracies for the Future'
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