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EU Commission should seize opportunity to listen to the people

23 August, 2004


Sinn Féin MEP for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald has responded to plans by the EU Commission to make its work more visible in member states by saying that the "EU Commission must use the opportunity to conduct a transparent consultation process by asking the people what they think about the EU and its institutions".

The EU Commission held an informal meeting in Brussels on Friday 20th August to discuss its future plans over the next five years in office. One of the outcomes of that meeting was a statement from Joao Vale Almeida, who has been tasked with ensuring the smooth transition of the new Commission. The statement set out Commission plans to make its presence felt in member state capitals.

Speaking today, Ms McDonald said:

"I welcome the fact that the EU has expressed a willingness to communicate more effectively with the citizens of the EU. For a long time, there has been a democratic deficit within the EU, with decisions taken without consultation with the people. If the intention of this strategy is to bring the EU closer to the people then that is long overdue.

"However, I fear that an increasing presence by the EU Commission within member states is about rolling out a propaganda strategy to sell the EU Constitution to the people. There are those within the EU who fear that any future referendum on the draft Constitution could be overwhelmingly rejected by member states.

"Sinn Féin is calling upon the EU Commission and particularly the Commissioner tasked with this project, Ms Margot Wallstom to engage substantively with the Irish people and throuhout Europe. They must use the opportunity to conduct a transparent consultation process by asking the people what they think about the EU and its institutions.

„It is time that the EU Commission came face to face with the people of Europe to see what it is they want from the EU. In a democracy, communication must be a two way street and it is time the EU started to listen. Is this strategy about communicating the EU and institutions more effectively to the people, or a PR offensive to spin the benefits of the flawed EU Constitution?" ENDS

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