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"Faces on Divides" - Eurolab #2, Thessaloniki

The Jacques Delors Institute in partnership with DIKTIO - Network for Reform in Greece and Europe implement the project "Faces on Divides", supported by the European Parliament. In the frame work of the project organized a grand oral of the Greek MEPs on the basis of the country notes on the MEPs votes. This oral entitled Eurolab #2 initiated on May 22nd 2017 in Thessaloniki in partnership with University of Macedonia, Department of International and European Studies. Yannis Mastrogeorgiou, Director, DIKTIO, made the introduction and welcomed more than 40 students of the University of Macedonia. Jacques Delors Institute's survey of how the Greek MEPs voted concerning important issues was presented in eurolab #2. Ms. Eliza Vozenberg, New Democracy MEP, EPP Group made annotation and Professor of International Relations University of Macedonia, Spyros Litsas intervention.

Anthi Soulitsioti, Research Associate, in DIKTIO, Project Manager of the EP Project “FACES ON DIVIDES” in Greece, presented an analysis on the basis of the country notes on the MEPs votes concerning twenty emblematic issues such as the Juncker Commission's investiture, the TTIP, trade secrets, the European border guard and coastguard agency, National and European Budgets, Social Policy, Taxation, Refugees, based on data provided by VoteWatch and Jacques Delors Institute for May 2014 to January 2016.

The present European Parliament was elected by the electoral process that took place in all the EU Member States from May 22 to May 25, 2014, where 751 MEPs, representing 503.7 million EU citizens, elected. The number of European Parliament seats per Member State is equivalent to the population of each state. Greece elected 21 representatives, according to the proportional election system.

These factsheets will allow us to put "faces on the political divide" which structures the European Parliament's democratic life but which does not necessarily or invariably reflect the left-right divide or the need to back one's national government the way it does at the national level. Rather, it points to the existence of variable-geometry political majorities (just as it did from 2009 to 2014) which can be broken down into three main categories:

  • "coalition majorities" embracing the conservatives, the social democrats and the liberals (who vote the same way in 70% of cases) with additional support on a case-by-case basis from other political forces, a factor which has become increasingly necessary in view of the three political groupings' weaker numerical importance (this is the case, for instance, in voting on the shareout of refugees or on the harmonisation of social security charges and detached workers' salaries...)
  • "confrontational majorities" pitting the conservatives against the social democrats with additional support on a case-by-case basis from the liberals, the greens, the radical left or the eurosceptics (this is the case, for instance, in voting on the renewal of authorisation for glyphosate or on authorisation to employers to ban religious symbols from the workplace…)
  • "consensus majorities" embracing virtually all of the Greek MEPs from SYRIZA (extreme left) to GOLDEN DAWN (extreme right) (this is the case, for instance, in voting on money laundering or on steel emission allowances…)

This analysis show how MEPs vote and aims to inform citizens about how decisions are made at European level, and how this directly or indirectly affects their lives and their daily routine.

In Europe, there are issues of inequality and the European construction is threatened; changes that citizens themselves need to support are needed. Well-informed citizens will have the knowledge and strength to support European democracy.