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Comment: In Brussels, they don't know what they are doing

Lobbying backstage, University of Copenhagen economics student has had her first impression of the EU machine in Brussels. It is not good

I am at the bottom of the food chain because I am an intern or a stagiaire as it is called in French, and I am looking at a system that represents democracy.

Without entering into a philosophical discussion about the nature of democracy, three months as a stagiaire in a lobby association has revealed to me how little knowledge the members of the European Parliament actually have about the areas they make decisions about.

Professional politics

But how could it be any different? They are politicians and not professionals and some of them have never been in a position outside the political arena.

They are hired to express opinions and to vote. Opinions that are either based on commissioned reports by lobbyists, NGOs or political groups.

These reports take on different biases depending on who ordered them, because of different, and sometimes unrealistic, assumptions.

Fabricated opinions

The lobbyist reputation is of course on the line if he delivers knowledge for a report that is untrue.

But again, what is untrue when you have made your assumptions clear?

This gives us biased politicians because they have hundreds of opinions to make every month and they do not have the time to go in-depth with every subject.

It is easier to call up the lobbyist associations, as the one I work in, just to hear what they should think about a given proposal.

Empty seats with lots of power

Every month the European Parliament moves to Strasbourg where the committees get together to vote in what is called plenary, the last step before a possible trilogy between the European Parliament and the Council.

Before the plenary, an appointed committee and appointed shadow committee draft an opinion on the Commission’s proposals. The outcome of the vote can depend on how many members of parliament that decide to show up that day.

A bit disturbing that legislation that effects millions of people depends on politician’s presence, and let me say, depending on the importance of the vote, the room can seem quite empty at times.

Some politicians may even come to the conclusion that it is too much work to know what is being voted on, and just vote randomly.

I am not anti-EU

I am not against the EU. – quite the contrary. I believe that the EU is a good thing. A good thing for Denmark, certainly, even though on the transaction balance we give more than we receive.

The internal market is one of the main reasons. I just think that it is the wrong incentives that we are giving to politicians.

To give them no other choice than to believe in commissioned work and to trust that they always will do the right thing. Politicians care in theory only about re-election and remaining in a powerful position.

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