On Tuesday, the president of the European Union Commission (the EU's executive), Jean-Claude Juncker, called the European Parliament "ridiculous." The parliament was in session to debate the conclusion of the rotating presidency of the Republic of Malta (the EU's smallest member), but out of over 750 members, a mere 30 were present in the chamber. This lead Juncker burst out:
"The European Parliament is ridiculous, very ridiculous."
EU Parliament chairman Antonio Tajani of Italy criticized Juncker for his choice of words, insisting that the house should be respected. However inappropriate Juncker's choice of words are for the parliament chairman, they aren't any less valid: the European Parliament is joke.
The EU Parliament is the legislative branch of the union, and is supposed to represent its citizens. In theory, the Members of the European Parliament (MEP) are supposed to proportionally represent the citizens of the union's member states. In practice however, smaller countries are represented more than larger ones: one French MEP represents over 850,000 of his own citizens, while a Maltese member represents 80,000, giving the Mediterranean island 10 times more influence.
More importantly, the European Parliament is chastised by the Commission: it is the only parliament which has no right of initiation, meaning it does not have the right to propose legislation. This way, Juncker's commission is simultaneously drafting laws and supervising its execution: separation of power à la Europe…
In practice, MEP's are the long arm of the political parties sitting in the EU Commission. They are often retired politicians who are too old to be re-elected in their member state or they lost an election and use the comfortable chairs in Brussels as their retirement seats. In many cases, these politicians still have obligations in their home countries, which is why empty plenary chambers aren’t a rare view in Brussels and Strasbourg.
How long European citizens will continue to support a political structure which is over-regulating the economy and people's personal habits, and whose overpaid parliamentarians are not even showing up for work, is what should really concern EU-leaders in Brussels. After Brexit, it is only likely that more and more countries will no longer be willing to be a member, starting with those in Central and Eastern Europe.
Ever since the 2004 enlargement of the European Union to include several former Eastern Bloc countries, European technocrats have believed that financing Central and Eastern European infrastructure and agriculture will make them nod along with the policies of the Brussels machine.
This political strategy is doomed to fail. There are emerging markets in the world, yet Europe is not one of them. For the continent to stay competitive, it needs to rid itself of the protectionist trade policy of the EU, and, even more importantly, of its massive regulation on businesses. The only reason why no countries have left the EU is because the member states do not let the people vote on its membership. Since the U.K.'s referendum in June 2016, they know that such a vote can produce "undesired" results.
The European Parliament is ridiculous, and so is the rest of the EU. Glad we got Jean-Claude Juncker to reach that conclusion.
Bill Wirtz is a political commentator currently based in France. Originally from Luxembourg, he writes columns about politics in Germany, France, and the U.K., as well as about policy emerging from the European Union. His articles have been published by Newsweek, The American Conservative, the Washington Examiner, and the Mises Institute. He is a Young Voices Advocate, a regular contributor for Rare Media and the Foundation for Economic Education, and works as a Policy Analyst for the Consumer Choice Center. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.