Interview of Giorgos Georgiou, AKEL Cyprus and GUE/NGL MEP
Interview of Giorgos Georgiou, AKEL Cyprus and GUE/NGL MEP to “Alithia” newspaper Sunday 28 July 2019
Question: From Nicosia to the heart of Europe. How close or how far is Cypriot society from Brussels?
GG: From divided Nicosia to the frail heart of a miserable Europe. With enormous problems, a powerful bureaucracy and evident contradictions, neoliberal policies and the extent of its democratic functioning and social sensitivity in disrepute.
Cypriot society whether it likes it or not is affected in a catalytic, if not dramatic way by what happens and is decided in Brussels. One only needs to recall that 80% of the decisions approved by the Cyprus House of Representatives s or/and are imposed through EU Directives, decisions or regulations which emanate from European institutional bodies. However, without negating what is being done, with many factors (political parties, Parliament, executive power, mass media, the educational system, the European Parliament and the MEP’s themselves) responsible for, Cypriot society is being informed to a minimal extent about all that is taking place in Brussels.
As far as AKEL is concerned, despite all the accusations about its so-called ”anti-European” stand, we demonstrate a particular interest (on European affairs). Through the organization of seminars, hearings and discussions we are trying to inform Cypriot society about European developments.
How does this big change affect the life of a MEP, particularly in the case of Cyprus with the coming and going taking up plenty of time? How easy or difficult is it for you to adapt to the European reality when one experiences or doesn’t experience it from afar?
GG: You need 2 days to come and go. This isn’t entirely wasted time as you can spend this time studying documents and preparing for the numerous legislative work which must be carried out. The change is indeed great. Being together for one month with outgoing MEP’s has contributed to an easier adaptation to the new given situation. The experience one gains from the Cyprus parliament is also a helpful factor. However, it must be admitted that the functioning of the EP’s Political Groups, Parliamentary Committees and the European Parliament itself differ greatly form the Cyprus parliament. A spirit of consensus, a conciliatory stand, strict discipline and sensitivity with regards maintaining some balances is demanded.
How do the “big powers” address the “small” powers of Europe in the political groups and committees, but also in their day-to-day activity?
GG: Let’s not fool ourselves. The small states are small…You feel this at all levels (of the EP), both politically and as regards national issues. The major countries and big political groups hold all the power and means in their hands. They determine structures, the guidelines of the policies and compositions of institutional bodies and the presidencies of EP committees.
In the Group of the European United Left-Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) – which AKEL is a member of with two MEP’s – things are different. Despite the difficulties which quite naturally exist due to the very confederal character of GUE/NGL, our common left ideology makes mutual respect imperative, as well as the projection of a different culture of synthesis and consensus. Regardless of our small numerical size, the two new AKEL MEP’s, as members of the European Left, with their ethos and serious stand, dynamism and assertiveness, are trying to play an important role both within our Political Group, as well as within the EP Committees we are participating in. Besides, AKEL has always had a significant presence in Europe and has gained a disproportionate to its size respect and appreciation with the two MEP’s it has elected.
As regards the issue of the election of the President of the European Parliament. It’s the first political event you had a say in. How much did your voice count in your political group and how democratic were these procedures according to your first experience?
GG: In reality we didn’t have a say. This leaves a bitter taste to all those who experienced from close hand this ghastly show. Its outcome had already been decided just a few days beforehand behind in the closed and dark rooms of the European Council in Brussels.
I am referring to the excruciating process and the behind-the-scenes consultations in which everyone participated in, apart from the Left, for the sharing of the leading institutional posts and offices of the EU (the President of the European Council, European Commission and European Parliament, as well as for the head of the European Central Bank). This was an anti-democratic and non-transparent procedure, which provocatively ignored the European electoral body that went to cast its vote in the May European elections. This has brought into disrepute not only the right of European citizens to be partakers of the political developments that are affecting the life, but also the institutions themselves which are supposedly safeguarding this right.
The example of the sharing of the leading institutional bodies of the EU by the interests of the ruling circles and their few associates illustrates the magnitude of the EU’s democratic deficit; a deficit that is also demonstrated in the way the EU reacts to numerous challenges which it is facing.
The fate of the peoples is in their own hands. The Left, both here in Cyprus and in Brussels too, will stand decisively on the side of the peoples.
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