'United we stand, divided we fall', VP Šefčovič reminds national parliaments
With just four months to go until the European Parliament elections in May, Europe needs to reconnect with citizens, remind them of what the EU really brings them and regain their trust, Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič told parliamentarians from all 28 Member States on 27 January. Speaking at the bi-annual meeting of the chairs of the European affairs committees of the national parliaments, hosted by the Greek EU presidency in Athens, VP Šefčovič drew on the wisdom of ancient Greek storyteller Aesop to underline his message.
One of Aesop's most famous sayings is 'united we stand, divided we fall' – a phrase that continues to resonate in today's EU. He warned against the continued 'Brusselisation' of failure and nationalisation of success – i.e. the tendency to take the credit at national level for initiatives emanating from the EU and at the same time blaming 'Brussels' for imposing 'difficult' decisions that were taken collectively by the institutions.
Europe's greatest crisis is not economic or financial, VP Šefčovič warned, but a crisis of trust; Europe seems remote and out of touch, slow to respond and too bureaucratic and undemocratic.
Everyone working within the EU policy-making arena has a duty to address these issues, he added – from the institutions in Brussels to national, regional and local authorities in the Member States.
The May European elections provide an excellent opportunity to begin to set the record straight on what the EU does, how it does it and who benefits from what it does – and to reiterate the commitment of all EU and national institutions to work together for the betterment of European citizens.