Saturday

23rd Sep 2017

EU plans 'political MySpace'

Plans are being developed to launch a social networking site for MEPs and MPs to boost contacts between politicians across Europe and promote a trans-European democracy.

Myparl.eu - officially to be launched in October - is a website currently under construction that aims to work along the same lines as the popular MySpace or Facebook social networking services, but in addition to linking social contacts is supposed to foster debate about legislative proposals coming both out of Brussels and from national parliaments.

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The first official talks on the project, which is sponsored by the European Commission and will receive EU funds, took place in Brussels on Thursday (28 May) involving MEPs and the 27 national co-ordinators for each member state.

Daniela Vincenti Mitchener, editor of the site, told EUobserver the project is about "creating a transnational community of ideas" and that it will alert MPs to MPs in other countries "who are thinking alike."

The project could potentially involve up to 20,000 people, including politicians from regional governments and parliaments.

It is planned that the site will be managed in the three main working languages of the EU - French, German and English - but that people can also post comments in their own language.

Myparl.eu will put forward three main themes for debate - the future of Europe, climate change and intercultural dialogue.

Giving an example of the sort of debating topic in the online forum that is likely to appear, a UK official at the talks suggested a recent decision by the British parliament's Environment Audit Committee recommending a system of personal "carbon credits" whereby people in the future would have to buy pollution credits from one another.

"I can imagine that MPs in other countries want to discuss this," the British official said.

The site is planned to be open to the public, who will be able to react to the issues with letters to the editor. However, only MPs and MEPs will be able to post comments.

Although there are other existing forums for MPs to meet, such as COSAC, which brings together national deputies from European committees, in reality, MPs have little to do with each other - a factor partly of language, time and distance from one another.

Attempts to get them more involved in EU law-making has been slow, as well. Since late 2006, the commission has been sending legislative proposals to national parliaments for their comment. But the uptake has been sluggish in most national chambers.

Supporters of the Myparl.eu site hope it will lessen the perceived distance between what is going on in Brussels and the rest of Europe's parliamentary arenas - especially as most national laws originally emanate from the EU capital - as well as bring MPs together to discuss issues going on in their own or other member states.

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