Sunday, 19th August, 2018
Article by Gisela Stuart
Opinion: Europe Needs a Positive Vision
Premier Commissioner Gisela Stuart, who announced her re-election bid earlier this week
As my first term in office draws to a close, I've been casting my mind back to the situation we were in back in February, when I was first elected. We had three positions up for election, four candidates, and, shockingly, four votes. The only thing the Council had done in the previous four months was pass an amendment removing the disastrous confirmation hearings system from Commission elections - and even that had passed with just three votes and virtually no debate. Several major member states had simply withdrawn from the European political process.
I like to think that, over the last six months, I've done my part to end that crisis of legitimacy. Many long-standing nations have returned to Europolis, and many more new countries have arrived. Our overall membership as a region has gone up, and the activity here in Europolis has gone up with it. It's a testament to the work we've done to bring new nations to the EU, and to make Europolis more accessible to new member states.
Moreover, thanks to the work of my colleague, Internal Commissioner Chelsea Clinton-Mezvinsky, the Council is hard at work again, implementing much-needed reforms to our region's approach to issues like climate change, and removing legislation that simply doesn't work. My common-sense goal of a Europe that does less, more effectively is closer than ever to reality. And the ECoJ is about to swing back into action too.
I'm glad that we've got to where we are today because it gives us the opportunity to start work on the important projects that have had to take a back seat during our recent crisis. That's what I hope my second term will be about, if I have the privilege of being re-elected as Premier Commissioner.
A new European budget, for instance, is well overdue. It's time we brought clarity again to how the EU receives and spends its money. I aim to hold meetings with stakeholders and propose a budget within three weeks of being re-elected. I'll also be speaking to member states about how we can boost our regional economy, with a particular view towards breaking down trade barriers within the region. Being an EU member state should offer countries something, and that should include basic protections against unfair trade practices.
Speaking more widely, I'm looking forward to working with the Office of Internal Affairs on revising the Constitution to make it more effective and more accessible. Right now the Constitution ties itself up in matters about electoral systems, while failing to detail what EU membership actually offers. We can build a better Constitution, one that's more accessible, more inviting, and more about the realities of EU membership than ECoJ election tie-breaking.
But alongside this, we still have to keep pressing to ensure we never return to the dark days of the winter just gone. I aim to step up our recruitment and accessibility efforts, in part aided by Constitution reform, and to work with my colleague Vincent Drake, the continuing Foreign Affairs Commissioner, to keep expanding our diplomatic network and ensure that the name of the European Union is known around the world. We're more secure and more active than we were not even that long ago - but there's definitely still more to do.
I want this to be a positive campaign about good ideas and bringing the region together. We know all too painfully how damaging for our community of nations an acrimonious Commission election can be. But if my fellow candidates choose a darker path, then I won't be shy to defend my record, face-to-face, on the debate stage next week. I'll stand for positivity, and I'll stand for my ideas, but I'll also stand for truth and unity.
The EU is a great region with great potential, and whatever happens over the next couple of weeks, it's been an honour to serve it these last six months, and watch it blossom out of some hard times. I'm looking forward to meeting more people, and having a productive discussion with my fellow candidates, during this campaign; and I hope that the next Commission term can be a time when our region enters the new golden age that its nations and peoples deserve. If you join with me, that's what I hope we can achieve together.