Welcome to our special interview with the candidate for the presidency of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek. A programme in cooperation between europarl tv, the web-tv service of the European Parliament, and Euronews. Sergio Cantone (Euronews) and Christiane Gronau (Europarl tv).
Christiane Gronau: Jerzy Buzek, you are a former Polish prime minister and you started the negociations for the accession of your country to the European Union. Now you are the candidate of the European People’s Party, the center-right group of the European Parliament, for the presidency of the European Parliament. What do you think will be the most important task or challenge you have to deal with when you become president of the European Parliament? Jerzy Buzek: “Thank you very much. This is of course a special time, certainly for me and also for countries which just over 20 years ago experienced a completely different system, communism. It’s fresh in their minds and the countries of central and eastern Europe will now be looking to the European Parliament, and their presence there will be something which brings the whole institution closer to the people. I believe that’s going to be the message. I think that was spead to a great extent through the entire European Parliament, because our citizens have some difficulty in really getting their minds on to what is happening in Europe.That’s why we are getting low voter turnouts, which are getting lower every five years.” Sergio Cantone: So, Mister Buzek, do you have any idea on how to make the European Parliament more attractive, especially after the low turnout in the last European elections? Jerzy Buzek: “I think we’ve got to pay attention to the issues which are close to our citizens because people are interested in bread and butter issues, things which affect them on a daily basis, in their everyday lives. And lofty words, talking about the economic crisis or the energy crisis, people do not prick up their ears. If you talk about energy security and you say what that means,that in your apartment you will always have gas in your cooker, you will always have electricity in your sockets. That’s exactly what we’ve got to do. We can bring new technologies, new things into the community, we can build infrastructures which will make sure that the gas gets into your house, your kitchen, and that electricity can get into your living rooms. You have to translate, if you like, because people, if they are driving, if they are motorists, will need energy, they need fuel. I think sometimes we get a bit lost up there in the stratosphere and we have to bring things down to ground level. Christiane Gronau: What we see here in this race for the presidency of the European Parliament is that basically what people find so unattractive about Europe, that decisions and coalitions are made in the backrooms of the Parliament instead in the full Parliament itself. We have almost no debates, we know that you will probably the next president of the European Parliament, but there was no fight about it and no drama… and I think that’s what people would like to see!? Jerzy Buzek: “Thank you. In the member states’ parliaments, I think the exact same things apply. You get an alliance and each of the national parliaments will be doing that after the election, they have to negociate to form a government. It’s not immediately apparent what the alliance is going to be. They have to talk,even after polling day has come and gone. And I think that’s something which you get used to. One shouldn’t think that it’s going to be any different here, where I think things are the same. You have the results and nothing is automatic after that. People have got to find friends and allies, they’ve got to find likeminded people. And it’s not simply that you are sitting watching the television and you know exactly what is going to happen afterwards. It’s going to be a coalition, it’s going to be an alliance. Not at all. You’ve got to have this debate. What kind of coalition you want. What has to be done to strengthen the community? Are we able to work together promptly and quickly, so that European voters can see that the European Parliament is responsible and strong. And they want to know what they are getting with a coalition.” Sergio Cantone: Don’t you think, to be more attractive, this chamber should need more conflict, eventually? Jerzy Buzek: “Yes of course, you are quite right. And this I think confirms what I was saying earlier. Because in the EPP group we’ve got those conflicts as well. In the national pariliaments of course, you do that in big coalitions from the right to the left. When it comes to things like, do we need a major reform, you can get broad coalitions in member states as well. I think this is the kind of challenge we now have ahead of us. Because we’ve got to get out of crises, overcome the crises, you’ve got to solve the climate and energy crises. Migration can be a problem, we’ve got demographic problems and population growth. We have a big conference coming up in Copenhagen on the world’s climate, which is of immediate concern for all of us. And those are areas where we’ve got to pack a punch.” Sergio Cantone: What is the real role of the Parliament? You are mentioning a wide set of policies. What is the real role of the European Parliament? Jerzy Buzek: “The role of the Parliament is definitely clear. It’s set out in the Nice Treaty. And even before then you realize that we have joint decision. You have the Commission which has a special relationship with the European Parliament. We have powers over the budget for example. If the Lisbon Treaty comes into force we will have a completely new situation, a far stronger European Parliament first of all. Joint decision-making, joint law-making, real joint decision on the big issues. And the European Parliament will have the right of legislative initiative which is some considerable change.And that I think will mean that the Parliament is entitled to solve certain problems of the Union.” Christiane Gronau: We are drawing the debate to a close. It’s on July 14th that the European Parliament will elect it’s new president… and probably it will be the man you met here right next to us. Thank you for watching. Good bye.