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Discussion with George Stylianou, Advisor to the European Parliament, concerning how the European Parliament works and observations from Central Europe, which took place in Brussels, Belgium and was provided by GlobalLearning.

We have lessons to learn from the banking crisis, and new measures have to be taken resulting from it. The European Union is an internal market. We have to bear in mind that, across the European Parliament, a range of different ideologies and political parties are represented. It would be better to have a European Federation, but because of a lack of knowledge among the European citizenry as a whole (and major politicians), this is at present impossible.

The Strasbourg European Parliament and European Central Bank of Frankfurt are typical institutional examples from the European Union of compromise between states, in that member states of the EU want some of the institutions in their countries to feel important. The departure of Britain from the EU could lead to a domino effect across other member states. The main culprit in this turn of events is the media, particularly the BBC and The Economist, which are clearly in the sway of EU-scepticism. Scotland could apply to join the EU as an independent state, but in this case, they would have to adopt every piece of legislation and all of the agreements which are settled among members of the EU; those would be very difficult conditions to accept, and the whole process would be very time-consuming.

Clashes have emerged between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Following on from this point, we can safely assume that neither the French nor the Dutch will hold a referendum about staying in, or leaving, the EU. The point must also be made that, if you are to have such a referendum, it has to be provided on a basis of truth regarding the current situation, in contrast to what happened in the UK’s “Brexit” referendum, where we saw campaigns based on lies and political intrigues.

There are 751 European politicians in the parliament, and the President of the European Parliament is Martin Schulz. They are 8 political groups, with no single political group having a majority. If you are participating in an election and you vote, for example, for political group which is in favour of the Christian Democrats, then at the same time, you are electing people to the European Parliament.

We discussed the three main political groups, including the European People’s Party, which is the largest group in the EP. They are aligned with a Christian democrat and liberal-conservative orientation. The EPP is trying to achieve reforms of CAP and solve the problem concerning immigration in Europe, and also to build a better relationship with China. The second-largest group is the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, which are aligned with social-democratic parties and are seeking to achieve a more open, responsible and democratic Europe. Third out of the eight largest political parties is the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Group, which appeals to democrats and liberals, and is seeking to achieve a single European market and further and better European integration processes. Another notable group is the European Conservatives and Reformists, a conservative party which has the goal of bringing economic growth to the EU and eliminating further bureaucracy within the system.

The whole decision making process is very clear, with simple, but very strict, rules. There are several readings leading up to the completion of EU law. Firstly, the European Commission draft a proposal, and its first reading takes place in the European Parliament (an elected body), where it is debated, adjustments may be drafted, and it is ultimately accepted or rejected. If it is accepted, the proposal goes to a third reading in the European Council (comprised of government ministers from all 27 states), which accept or reject the proposal or make adjustments to it. Then if all members of the EU agree, Parliament has the final say and we are presented with EU law.