1) You are the President of “Europe United –The European Party”. Can you present your party and explain the reasons for its creation?
Mikael Latreille: Europe United was founded in 2005 by Aki Paasovaara shortly after the rejection by France and the Netherlands of the European Constitution. He created “Europe United” like a forum enabling the pro-Europeans of all Europe to discuss the European questions and especially those concerning its future.
Its founder looked beyond national policies and imagined a pro-European and pan-European political party, the members of which would unite for achieving a common goal. Mr Paasovaara saw in such a party the engine for developing a more integrated and more democratic European Union.
Through its activities, “Europe United” aims to carry the debate on the European questions in the middle of the EU Member States’ policies and to increase the European citizens’ conscience about these questions. As a pro-European and pan-European political party, Europe United seeks to influence the European political process by making campaign and by introducing candidates for the European elections.
2) What is “Europe United” intending to do for the 2009 European elections?
Mikael Latreille: Europe United will present candidates in a certain number of Member States. We try to put into practice what we defend by introducing common candidates in several Member States, making campaign on a common platform and on subjects with a European dimension. Our aim is to defend the need for real pan-European parties and we seek to show that we are right in practice. In other regions of Europe, where parties do not present any candidate, Europe United will implement its European campaign for the promotion of a general awareness on the European questions, that we call in a non-official way, the “do you know Europe” campaign.
3) You have just launched the campaign “5 requests”. Can you present it in a few words?
Mikael Latreille: The aim of the campaign is to show that the European citizens want more Europe, a Europe which is more democratic. The 5 requests explain what Europe United would like to see in a more democratic Europe.
In addition to the political parties naming their candidate for the Presidency of the Commission, the petition also asks that the other Members of the Commission be named by the political parties. The 5 requests include the fact of giving to the European Parliament a more important right of monitoring the Commission and the Council, as well as a stronger power in the adoption of European legislation and a greater implication of civil society in the legislative process.
Europe United considers the Irish “No” as a consequence of the lack of concultation of the European citizens on the subjects which affect them. Europe United is convinced of the support of the Irish people to the European Union as a project.
4) Among the 5 proposals, you ask the parties to name their candidate to the Presidency of the European Commission. Your party will be presented to the elections, who will you indicate? Do you think that the traditional parties will succeed in proposing a candidate?
Mikael Latreille: As a small new party on the European scene (we were created in 2005), we decided not to indicate any candidate for the Presidency of the Commission this time.
We believe indeed that by giving to the European Parliament the power to elect the President of the executive of the EU, the European elections become more relevant. If the European citizens know before the elections the candidate whom each party wishes to indicate for the Presidency of the Commission, they will feel that their vote will determine who is going to govern the European institution which produces 99% of the legislation of the European Union. Suddenly their vote will count even more. It is exactly what Europe United seeks to reach. We want citizens to be involved as much as possible in the decisions which affect them more.
5) You call for more involvement of the citizens in the legislative process. How could this idea be implemented? What do you propose for achieving this objective?
Mikael Latreille: Apart from our proposal for a President of the Commission elected by the European Parliament, we want to see an extension of the legislative powers of the only directly elected European institution. The European Parliament should be a co-legislator equal to the Council in all fields of policy. The European Parliament should also have increased powers to supervise the Commission. The more the European Parliament will have supervision and co-decision powers, the more the European Union will be democratically accountable in front of its own citizens.
6) Do you think that we are witnessing the birth of a European public space? If not, what do you think could help in order to achieve this necessary objective?
Mikael Latreille: We are in fact witnessing the emergence of various movements in Europe, which recommend a greater popular participation in the decision-making process at the same time at the European and at the national level.
But the national political elites are still reticent to involve the citizens in the decisions which can affect them, so that the political process remain detached from the people who are more concerned. The parties like ours, which practises in fact the participatory democracy, where all the decisions are conceived by their members, are the only alternative to the current situation.
Europe United made of the institutional changes the cornerstone of its priorities. We are a young party, made up of young people with progressive ideas. We ask to have a word to say on the decisions which draw our future. We want to gather all those who, throughout Europe, share our aim.