Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 November, 2022 at 3:19 pm by Andre Camilleri
In a podcast from Strasbourg on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the European Parliament, former Prime Minister Alfred Sant highlighted how the parliament has undergone important changes since its inception in 1952. He noted that contrary to the Common Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) which comprised parliamentarians appointed from the national parliaments of each Member State, the European Parliament nowadays has over 700 members elected directly from each Member State every five years.
MEPs commemorated the creation of the ECSC in 1952. In 1958, following the creation of the European Economic Community and the European Atomic Energy Community, the Common Assembly of the ECSC was enlarged and renamed the “European Parliamentary Assembly”. In 1962, it adopted the name “European Parliament”.
Alfred Sant claimed that one of the most profound changes the European Parliament has undergone in the last 70 years was the gradual increase in its powers, in particular the adoption of substantial legislative and budgetary powers. However, he emphasized that as the current situation stands the most important decision-making powers in the European Union are still vested within the Council of Ministers. Many MEPs want the European Parliament to have a greater reach through a revision of the European Union treaties, he added. On the other hand, the majority of European Member States do not share the same sentiment. MEPs are still considered as acting within the Brussels bubble, which keeps them at a distance from the reality European citizens are facing.
The Labour MEP noted that during the ceremony much emphasis was placed on the implementation of European democratic values but little reference was made to how and if the European Parliament feels close enough to European citizens. However, Sant emphasized that in comparision with other European institutions, at age 70, the European Parliament can today be considered as the most effective exponent of the soft power that the European Union has among nations.