The EP can draw its weight and credibility only from the mandate given by EU citizens’ participation at elections, says Marjan Sedmak, President of AGE Platform Europe

We can claim, without any hesitation,  that this Manifesto for European Parliament elections 2014 represents a strong message to the future MEPs about expectations and concerns of EU older citizens.

But there is much more. From the French revolution to Earl Montesquieu’s idea of division and balance of powers dominated the idea of democracy in general. In the EU, including its predecessors, for decades the councils of ministers have decided on issues that influenced daily routine of the millions of common citizens that not only were never consulted but which on many occasions were not even aware of the decisions made by ministers. And the long distance between national constituencies and high-level decision-makers behind closed door offered a lot of possibilities to the packs of lobbies without any democratic credentials to become a part of decision making processes. The syntagma of EU democratic deficit appeared in EU vocabulary.

The treaties of Maastricht and Lisbon shifted the balance of powers more in favour of EP, and it’s high time that the EU as a »meta-State« (Adam Michnik) gets  a fully operational and highly credible Parliament, both to establish a better balance of powers and to enhance the link between the EU and its citizens. More and more decisions regulating the daily routine of EU citizens are taken on EU level, and therefore it’s imperative for the EU institutions and processes to become more democratic and transparent. One of the messages we are sending with this Manifesto is in favour of supplementing representative democracy with strong elements of participatory democracy.

But there is still more. The average participation in EP elections is low, not exceeding 43 percent, and in some countries as low as 20 percent. More responsibility and better participation would not only convey higher credibility to EP, it would also be the best answer to those movements and parties which misuse the present economic and financial crises to spread anti-European slogans. They don’t have any credible program and they replace the program with provocation, cheap demagogy, hate speech and hatred against those who don’t agree with them.

87 percent of the EU citizens agree with the statement that the EU needs additional tools for the defense of human rights. There is a huge amount of work in this field for the next EP. But the EP can draw its weight and credibility only from the mandate given by EU citizens’ participation at elections. The Manifesto is trying to motivate European seniors to go to the polls but it is a collective work of tens of European older people organisations and therefore at the same time a narrative and message that should restore the enthusiasm which has for so many years accompanied the development and expansion of the European integration.

Marjan Sedmak

AGE Platform Europe, President

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