Information about and participation in European decision-making.
By Julia Mayer / 25.06.2020
Most of us know the EU as a rigid, opaque construct. Unfortunately, it is also the case that decisions at European level receive little media attention in the nation states. This is partly due to the fact that journalists are comparatively less present in Brussels than in other national capitals and partly to the assumption that citizens are less interested in EU decisions. This feeling may also be due to the fact that many citizens are of the opinion that they have no influence on important European decisions anyway, and that it is often heard regularly in the media that Brussels has made yet another decision alone.
However, this is not the case. First of all, it must be made clear that it is not a simple case of “Brussels deciding”, but rather that the individual institutions at EU level carefully weigh up different interests against each other. This is also done with the help of information from lobbyists. The Commission, the Parliament, and the Council play a key role in the legislative process. As we know, the representatives we elect work in the European Parliament. In the Council of the European Union, the individual Member States are represented in the form of ministers. Therefore, although the right of initiative for legislative proposals lies with the Commission, national concerns are appropriately taken into account and incorporated into the further legislative process, especially in Parliament and the Council.
It should also be noted that very important decisions are made at EU level which affect the organisation of many areas of life. This makes it all the more important to keep informed about these processes and, as citizens, to actively use their opportunities to participate in European decision-making. Because this is possible! Through consultations, the Commission offers the public the opportunity to contribute views and expertise to the decision-making process. You can access the current consultations via the following link: https://ec.europa.eu/info/consultations_de.
If you want to take part in the consultations, there is obviously no harm in being informed about European issues and decisions. But how can you best obtain this information? The Publications Office of the European Union offers a facility to consult all EU publications (https://op.europa.eu/en/home). In addition, there are many Members of the European Parliament who offer a newsletter which can be subscribed to free of charge. In it, they regularly write about current issues and decisions in Parliament and present their views and demands in this regard. Webinars are also frequently offered by individual parliamentary groups or politicians. If you subscribe to a newsletter, you are always up to date and will never miss live exchanges with top politicians again!
Of course, you should also inform yourself in a broad and versatile way. To do so, you can use the Publications Office’s homepage or the following homepage: https://europa.eu/. Here you will be asked to choose your preferred language from all the official EU languages. After that, you are granted access to documents of the various institutions.
If you are looking for a different way to keep up to date with EU decisions, the POLITICO podcast (https://www.politico.eu/podcast/) might be suitable for you. This informative audio format regularly provides relevant news on European topics, which are explained and discussed with selected experts invited to the event. Furthermore, the formats POLITICO Brussels Playbook https://www.politico.eu/newsletter/brussels-playbook/ and POLITICO EU Influence https://www.politico.eu/newsletter/politico-eu-influence/ which can also be subscribed to as newsletters, bring you the latest information about what is happening in Brussels.
I hope that this contribution has (re)awakened your interest in European issues and decisions. In any case, I would advise you to look for a format, perhaps initially on a trial basis, so that you can find out about the decisions taken in Brussels. You will see that it is worthwhile, because the EU concerns and connects us all and offers opportunities for participation – you just have to use them!