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Clean Power

Published on May 21st, 2019 | by Maarten Vinkhuyzen


The EU Parliament Elections & Why They Matter — EU Renewable Energy Politics, Part 1

May 21st, 2019 by  

This is part of a series about the EU Parliament and needed policies. The articles in this series are:

  1. The EU parliament elections and why they matter (this one)
  2. Europe Transitioning to Renewable Energy is impossible without the EU
  3. Will electric flying overtake high speed trains
  4. North Sea long term vision needed

Image by mcruetten on Pixabay

The EU Parliament Elections & Why They Matter

Next week we have elections for the Parliament of the European Union.

Many people think the EU is an autocratic busybody inferring in their lives and national autonomy.

Many more people think the parliament does not matter and does not have any influence.

Those people are wrong. The EU is a democratic organization of democratic countries. Nothing gets decided without the consent of the democratically chosen representatives. Democracy has many problems, it is implemented in many different ways all over the world, and every implementation has shortcomings. But in the end it is the best system we have got.

The direction and activities of a democracy are decided by the voting of its constituents. It can be a direct or indirect voting system, by district or proportional representation, and mostly it is an opaque combination of those systems. The “Powers That Be” will try to minimize the influence of the voting. They do it by gerrymandering, by voter suppression, by belittling and scorning the role and importance of the institutions (the “deep state”), and most effectively, by getting the voters to vote against their own interest.

In Europe, the “Powers That Be” have been quite successful. The EU parliament has not the power it should have. The turnout of voters is very low. Voters are encouraged to vote on subjects that are decided by the national administrations, not the EU. European politics are mostly ignored in the news, except when they conflict with national priorities. And last but not least, the EU is often used as bogeyman to implement national policies that are not popular. At the same time, national politicians claim the benefits of successful EU legislation.

The EU is important for every member nation. Because without it, we are each nothing on the global stage. This is true for even the largest nations in the EU, as the UK is discovering while trying to get a Brexit without losing too many of the EU benefits.

For the past 70+ years, the world stage has been dominated by the superpowers. The USA was the undisputed #1 and China has replaced the USSR in the last decade. India is destined by its sheer size to join this club. Japan, Russia, Indonesia, and Brazil have or will surpass even the biggest of the EU member states.

The EU rules are the rules the international corporations are paying attention to, not the rules of Germany, Denmark, San Marino, or Malta. EU rules are about fair competition, privacy of data, safety of communications, producer liability, consumer guarantees, banking solidity, food safety, and much more. Without the EU, European countries would have no voice in these matters. The rules are made by the biggest players, and all other countries can take them or leave them.

By having one set of rules for the EU and the countries that are aligned on those rules, the companies of the world obey those rules. They pay the fines, even billion-dollar fines, to keep access to the EU markets. Without the EU, the USA’s and China’s rules would dominate in Europe.

In rule-making, the EU Parliament is important. Every new parliament is more important by making new rules and gaining more influence. We can only be the master of our own home, when that home is the EU. Again, as the Brexiteers are learning, it is a fool’s errand to try to be the master of your own home without the EU.

All those who are claiming the importance of local autonomy to oppose the EU are like the mayors of villages who decry the influence of the capital of the county, region, province, state, or nation. Power abhors a vacuum. Anybody who claims autonomy but does not have the power to defend it, to enforce it, is giving it to those willing to grab it. For Europe in the global market, the choice is between the EU Parliament, the unregulated companies and banks directed by the wolfs of Wall Street, or the companies and banks controlled by the Chinese state. Who decides what is on the shelves in our stores? I like it to be me.

Not voting has two consequences. First, a parliament without a democratic mandate does not have much influence. It will be ignored when possible. Second, when you don’t show by casting a vote what direction you think the EU and the world should go, it will go in the direction preferred by those who did vote.

Not voting for a member of parliament is always the wrong choice and is giving your vote to the opposition, because those that are aligned with your views have one vote less.

Beside these general considerations, there are also important environmental and renewable energy considerations.

Some of these are discussed in the next articles in this series. 

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About the Author

Grumpy old man. The best thing I did with my life was raising two kids. Only finished primary education, but when you don’t go to school, you have lots of time to read. I switched from accounting to software development and ended my career as system integrator and architect. My 2007 boss got two electric Lotus Elise cars to show policymakers the future direction of energy and transportation. And I have been looking to replace my diesel cars with electric vehicles ever since. And putting my money where my mouth is, I have bought Tesla shares. Intend to keep them until I can trade them for a Tesla car.

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