Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Neil Gaiman it isn't

"The Aida Protocol", published by the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) is a comic-book style tale of an attractive member (think Katrine Fønsmark from Borgen) of the group. The story involves theft from cross-border oil supplies, blackmail and attempted suicide. However, the book betrays its origins in France, where bandes dessinées are taken seriously. The climax is not a shoot-out on the streets of Brussels but a crucial vote in an EC meeting after a pitch by our heroine which begins: "A key budgetary debate to be held soon will enable us to realign ...".

I shall hang on to the book, though, because it has a good summary of the powers of the European Parliament and the position of Liberals within it.

"The Aida Protocol" is fictional but Members of the European Parliament, much like Elisa Correr, are increasingly important players on the European political scene. In effect, since its first direct election by universal suffrage in 1979, the EP has seen its role gradually grow through successive European treaties; it co-legislates with the Council of Ministers on a host of subjects that affect the daily lives of citizens and consumers across the 27 Member States of the Union. Over the last few years MEPs gave most notably adopted a series of European laws [...] The ALDE, the third largest group in the Parliament, is at the centre of the European political chess-board, which is often a key hinge position between the two major groups, the S&D, on the left [...] and the EPP, on the right which includes conservatives and Christian Democrats.

Incidentally, it was encouraging to see the prime minister in the Commons yesterday reporting back on the recent meeting of the Council of Ministers, and responding to questions. It would be better, though, if he made these statements more frequently. So far as I can see, the last such was in December of last year. Even better would be the more active participation of Labour members. As Peter Bone MP pointed out at the end of the session, there were just five Labour members present when the PM sat down.

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