There was a time when Europe was the place where milk production aid, agricultural aid, tariff matters and some trade agreements were discussed. Brussels could bore even the most pro-European. Those times changed. The current European Parliament has experienced the transformation of Europe from within.
During the last five years, since the current legislature was inaugurated in July 2014, the European Parliament has seen a relatively stable Europe enter the depths of the crisis. Soon after it stopped being one, and became many. The European project was surrounded on all sides. When I left one I entered the next.
Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, he called it "policrisis". Five years that have completely changed Europe and that the MEPs who have sat during this time in the Chamber have lived from within. Brussels has become the political center of all crises. It has gone from a bureaucratic capital to a political capital. The bad news for the EU is that it means that it is going through difficulties. The good news is that, at least, these complications are shaping the political Brussels that the European project is supposed to have, a capital and a place that everyone looks at when they look for answers.
As soon as the legislature began the victory of Syriza in Greece came, the arrival of Alexis Tsipras to the Government in Athens, and with him a Minister of Finance on a motorcycle: Yannis Varoufakis. The crisis almost ends with the country outside the Eurozone and the euro zone destroyed.
The European Parliament, whose power has been growing over the years, he assisted impotently in destructive negotiations, in which the EU made numerous mistakes, in which the Eurogroup ended up expelling the Greek minister of the room and in which the European decision processes were in question.
Recently, with some institutional wounds of the Greek crisis already closed, Juncker intoned the mea culpa before the MEPs in Strasbourg: "We have been insufficiently supportive of Greece, we have insulted Greece"
With Athens back anchored in the euro zone, the next problem came to its shores: the refugee crisis of 2015. In this case it was not the Eurozone that was about to jump through the air, it was the Schengen area noticed how their seams creaked.
Almost Two million people illegally arrived in Europe in 2015 and the European Parliament, like the rest of the European institutions, experienced an intense internal debate during those days that have changed definitively as the EU is related to its neighbors and its approach to humanitarian crises.
Trapped in the islands: three years of the agreement to shield Europe before the refugees
Refugees in Greece no longer fill the front pages, but three years after the agreement between the EU and Turkey, they continue to arrive daily and thousands of them remain trapped in the country.
In March 2016, the EU reached one of the most difficult agreements that it has closed, but at the same time one of the most effective, of which the leadership of the Union does not back down: the pact between Brussels and Ankara for the return to Turkey of irregular migrants. This agreement received some important criticism from the European Parliament.
This also caused the increase of the migratory flow along the central Mediterranean route, which is between the African and Italian coasts, increasing the migratory pressure on Italy, one of the central elements that led to the xenophobic Lega by Matteo Salvini to the Government in March 2018 hand in hand with the anti-establishment party Movimento 5 Stelle.
The European Parliament has reached an agreement to negotiate a reform of the Dublin system that governs the EU asylum mechanism and that the 2015 crisis proved obsolete. But for the moment the Member States, especially the Eastern bloc, refuse to renew: with the system broken, migratory flows are managed from emergency to emergency and with ad hoc solutions that never involve them.
In June 2016 the European Parliament was shocked by the vote of the British in the referendum on leaving the European Union, with the main promoter of Brexit sitting in the room: Nigel Farage.
Since then the European Parliament has had a secondary but important role in the Brexit. The European Commission, which is in charge of the negotiations, has maintained continuous contact with the Brexit coordinating group in the European Parliament, chaired by Guy Verhofstadt.
During the time that the talks with London have lasted The European Parliament has had as a priority the protection of the rights of EU citizens in the United Kingdom and vice versa. Although the European Parliament considers that the current agreement respects these rights some MEPs have called for a higher level of protection.
The Brexit cracks the institutional unit of the EU with flight of knives in the Eurochamber
The president of the European Council and the spokesman of the European Parliament for Brexit are embroiled after the first openly criticizes the position of some Member States
There is only one political event comparable to Brexit in this term: the Catalan crisis. In September, October and November of 2017 the atmosphere in the community capital was almost unbreathable, and it was no less in the microclimate that is the European Parliament.
The bridges between MEPs from the constitutionalist and independence bloc broke down, there were mail exchanges with a lot of European Parliament staff and foreign MEPs in copy. The Catalan separatist members took advantage of the rostrum of the hemicycle to send their message to the rest of Europe.
Much of the international campaign of the 'procés' was forged in the corridors of the European Parliament, time before the illegal independence referendum. At the same time the MEPs of the constitutionalist bloc considered key to face that narrative in Brussels.
The 'procés' no longer raises passions in the European Parliament before the start of the 1-O trial
The toughest days of the 'procés' have been left behind, and in the European Parliament there is a sense of a certain calm. But a recrudescence is feared after the outcome of the trial
The crucial day was October 4. Three days after the illegal referendum on independence and police charges the European Parliament organizes an emergency debate as part of its plenary session in Strasbourg. The previous 48 hours were a total tsunami and the social network services of the European Commission had never seen anything like it: a real earthquake of reactions on Twitter and Facebook.
That day it was time for Frans Timmermans, the first vice president of the European Commission, to speak after three days of total siege. The image of Spain collapsed but Brussels, which had criticized the images of the 1-O, had corrected and closed ranks with Spain a few hours later.
The criticism was very hard and came from all sides, although especially from the bench of the greens and the unitary left, where United Podemos are framed. Brussels was asked not to remain silent. But it was not limited to parties related to the Catalan independence movement. In all the groups there were MEPs who, still with the shock of the images of the 1-O, aligned themselves with the Catalan forces.
The speech of the vice president was key because, in addition, he seemed the most inclined to criticize Spain. But the Dutchman was blunt. "Respect for the law is not optional, it is fundamental. If the law does not give you what you want you can oppose it, you can work to change it. But you can not ignore it, "said Timmermans. There the swelling started to go down.
The passions of 'Procés' continue to this day, although they have nothing to do with those of 2017. Recently the European Parliament vetoed an act by Carles Puigdemont, former president of the Generalitat, reviving criticism from pro-independence sectors. The escaped Catalan leader finally managed to enter the institution on another occasion for the inauguration of an exhibition on the Catalan language, which is a demonstration of the extent to which an image within the European Parliament is important in the media fight of the independence movement.
In the last session of this legislature Through the corridors, dozens of people wearing yellow ties continue to walk against the trial of the political leaders of the 'procés' for the illegal referendum. And the ties will continue there when the next legislature begins, when many anticipate that the situation will escalate: the participation of leaders processed in the European elections will put the matter back in the spotlight and the judgment will come with the next European Parliament. premiered
Other keys of this legislature
All these are exogenous elements, which have affected the European Parliament but are not part of their work. What the staff of the European Parliament is proud of is the things that have been achieved in recent years.
For example the end of roaming, one of the most popular measures in the European Union. Also in the European Parliament is the origin of raffling Interrail tickets to young Europeans who turn 18.
October 2016 the European Parliament gave its green light to the Paris climate agreement, a historic moment for the MEPs who saw in a matter of months how their illusion was crumbling when Donald Trump, the American president, announced that the US would abandon the agreement.
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With the recent incorporation to the treaty of Nicaragua and the Syrian country, immersed in a civil war for six years, the Trump government is evident in the international board
Also in 2016 The European Parliament approved the new European data security regulation, the GDPR, a revolutionary rule that includes the "right to be forgotten" on the Internet and that tries to put the control of data in the hands of the consumer. It also includes the possibility of fines of up to 4% of the global turnover to companies that infringe it. Outside of Europe we try to follow the example established by the GDPR.
In February 2017 the European Parliament gave the green light to the trade agreement with Canada (CETA) after a small region of Belgium put the treaty on the ropes and was about to make it fail when the text had already been closed.
The European Parliament has been the scene during these last years of other important chapters but that are not summarized in the voting of a norm or of a resolution. For example, in the corridors of the European institution began the denounce of assistants to some MEPs for sexual abuse and the movement 'Me Too' has had in the European Parliament one of the most prominent platforms.
Fruit of the immigration crisis as of 2015 Europe is shaken by the emergence and consolidation of national-popular forces in the continent. The European Parliament is the quarry of two of its main stars: the Italian Matteo Salvini, now Deputy Prime Minister, and the French leader Marine Le Pen, who came to the second round of the presidential elections.
The next Euro-chamber will be, in large part, the product of this earthquake, and Eurosceptic forces will enter with greater force. The underlying idea is that the ghosts that have awakened the migration crisis are here to stay, and that far from being a bad drink, the European project will have to get used to the increasingly present Europhobic forces.
The European Parliament has also lived as a protagonist two chapters related to this political crisis: the attack on the rule of law in Poland and Hungary. Both countries have activated Article 7 of the Treaties, which allows, in the final analysis, to remove a Member State its right to vote in the Council if it is attacking the most basic European values. Against Budapest it was the European Parliament itself that initiated the procedure.