Comments: 97 • Responses: 35 • Date: 2018-03-24 13:04:05 UTCsource
CH1CK3NW1N9521 karma2018-03-24 13:11:31 UTC
You know I gotta ask, what do you think of Brexit? I'm not greatly familiar with the whole issue myself, but I imagine there are all sorts of opinions in all sorts of governments, and I'm currently to hear yours
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mepassistants74 karma2018-03-24 13:23:50 UTC
Huge subject, but some quick points :
Brexit is a great act of self-harm that took many by surprise in Brussels (and the rest of Europe). Personnally, even if I was expecting the Remain campaign to win, I wasn' that surprised in the end. We are talking about a country which have been told almost everyday for 40 years that the EU is a terrible thing. So you can't expect people to vote to stay when suddenly the same people that were trashing the EU tell you that we shoudl remain in that, especially when the EU is a terribly complicated thing to explain and the anti-EU campaigners had some very charismatic people and some stroke of communication genius on their side. So overall this is a terrible waste for the British, especially the younger generations but if it is what it takes to "reset" the bad blood of the UK with the EU, well so be it. Nothing will prevent them to come back in 40 years if they wish to.
Now that we are here, the most "terrible" thing is to see how much the UK government is unprepared for the negotiations with the EU and is paying the price for thinking that they could shatter the unity between the EU27. Because of that, they are unable to bring realistic proposals at the table nor a clear political mandate for the negotiators, which is good for the EU because the UK is no match for us and the results of pretty much all the negotiations that took place ending up being almost word for word what the EU wanted : UK didn't wanted to pay a dime to settle their financial commitments, they will end up paying between 40 and 50 billions €, they didn't wanted to guarantee the rights and free movement of EU citizens, they end up guaranteeing it until 2021, they wanted to have a full access to the single market without being submitted to its rules, they will have an access but the obligation to follow all the rules without having a say on them, etc.
Brexit is also taking its toll on UK influence now (because legally they are still members of the EU, with the same prerogative as any other member) because no one want to do them any favour. Why would one change a policy point because of the specific need of a country that will not be there in 2 years ? Plus, there is a general feeling (even if no one will publically say it) that it is in the interest of the EU not to give he UK an easy time (while not punishing the British), because why would a country stay in the EU if you can get a better deal outside of it ?
From a EU perspective, I take Brexit as an opportunity to relaunch a number of initiatives that were blocked by the UK (among others), such as the social or defense policies.
CH1CK3NW1N955 karma2018-03-24 13:29:24 UTC
All good information, thanks!
Another thing I forgot the first time is: who gets assistants over there? (I'm from the States)
Do only the MEPs that get assistants like yourself? Or do folks at other levels get them too?
mepassistants4 karma2018-03-24 13:35:48 UTC
Difficult question, depending on what you mean by "assistant". In the Parliament, only MEPs can hire assistants (usually between 2 and 3), but political groups (EPP, S&D, ALDE, etc.) also hire political advisors that will help the MEPs and the political group within the different parliamentary committees. Their job is quite different than ours though.
FearAzrael1 karma2018-03-24 18:14:12 UTC
I am also ignorant about Brexit despite trying to read as much about it as I could leading up to the vote.
At the time, and more so now after reading your explanation, it seems like the European Union is just a bully organization and destructive to free trade.
Is that not the case?
What non-vindictive repercussions will the UK suffer from not being a part of the EU?
If the UK can stand in its own and prospers from the increased free trade (assuming that my initial premise is correct), what other countries, if any, will follow in their foot steps?
Do you support the Catalan struggle for independence and is it different than the UK’s decision for independence?
mepassistants1 karma2018-03-25 10:41:25 UTC
1) The EU defends its interests, just like everyone is. And those interests do not include the UK since the referendum (which was a British decision, not an EU one). And on the destruction of free trade, it's funny given the number of trade deals the EU has, the fact that the UK hasn't negotiated a trade deal in 40 years and the EU position in the current Trump shitstorm.
2) By leaving the EU, the UK is leaving a number of related things that was making its own life way easier (for instance for the approval or the monitoring of some products, the EU single sky, the current trade deals, etc.). It's also leaving a space of influence, because in some area (especially related to economy) to EU will keep a weight that will outgun by extremely far the UK. Meaning that if another country has to choose between the EU and the UK on economic grounds, they would choose the EU because of its cheer size and economical power. And apart from economic influence I believe that when you have to deal with giants like the US or China, no EU country stands a chance on its own. The EU is in my opinion the best way to "compensate" the structural loss of influence of individual countries in continental Europe in the 21th century. But if the UK believes in the strenght of the "one-man wolfpack" concept, good for them and good luck.
3) Currently I don't see any other country go down the path the UK chose (in many countries Brexit actually had a positive effect on the image of the EU). Even the most Eurosceptic countries (Poland and Hungary) don't want to leave the EU and don't plan on it.
4) I really don't have any opinion on the Catalan independence process, apart from the fact that what was attempted last year was a very risky gamble that the Catalan lost. And there is a wide difference with the UK, because the UK has always been independent. Proof is that they decided to leave the EU and nobody is preventing them from doing so.
jreacher1 karma2018-03-24 15:28:17 UTC
Now that we are here, the most "terrible" thing is to see how much the UK government is unprepared for the negotiations with the EU and is paying the price for thinking that they could shatter the unity between the EU27.
Now that we are here, the most "terrible" thing is to see how much the UK government is unprepared for the negotiations with the EU and is paying the price for thinking that they could shatter the unity between the EU27.
Good god have you been drinking the kool-aid.
The UK is not trying to 'shatter the unity'. It has always been a fundamentally uncomfortable fit with the EU goal of deeper integration, and it is trying to separate from the EU project in an amicable and constructive manner - however much the media wants to turn this into a soap opera. The best possible future for both sides is still as comprehensive a trade deal as possible, and close collaboration in a multitude of areas.
Why would a country stay in the EU if you can get a better deal outside of it?
Why would a country stay in the EU if you can get a better deal outside of it?
If the EU's best hope for unity is the threat of punishment if a country votes to leave, then it is truly a toxic project and deserves to fail.
Of course I don't think that is actually the case, and wiser heads will prevail.
philipwhiuk12 karma2018-03-24 15:38:40 UTC
The original UK strategy was to hope that the German car market (and similar industries) would force Germany to allow a trade deal without freedom of movement. In this respect the EU has stuck to 'all the cake or none of the cake'.
The best possible future for both sides is still as comprehensive a trade deal as possible
The best possible future for both sides is still as comprehensive a trade deal as possible
If you are the EU, the best possible future is no deal that allows free trade that doesn't also allow free movement. Which might mean no deal.
jreacher1 karma2018-03-24 16:29:26 UTC
The EU has a trade deals with countries all over the world that do not include freedom of movement.
Isawthelight1 karma2018-03-24 16:55:24 UTC
Yeah but the UK doesn’t look for a trade deal like the EU has with other countries, but a “very special one”...
jreacher1 karma2018-03-24 18:17:29 UTC
Because it's the world's 5th largest economy, has deep trade ties with the bloc already, is geographically convenient, and will likely remain integrated with many EU programs and regulatory regimes.
mepassistants1 karma2018-03-25 09:01:10 UTC
Yeah, but even the (now frozen) trade deal with the US (1st world power) didn't included everything the UK wanted.
And the UK will remain integrated with EU programs only as far as the EU allows it (depending on its own interest of course) and only as far as the UK will pay for that.
mepassistants1 karma2018-03-25 08:58:25 UTC
It's good that at least you acknowledge that the future relationship can only be based on a trade deal (see the infamous and very good "Barnier slide" to this effect : https://img.huffingtonpost.com/asset/5a394c31160000783ecf2154.jpeg?ops=scalefit_630_noupscale), because for a very long time the PM was very blurry about it. But it is also fact that part of the initial UK strategy was to try shatter the unity of the 27 by trying to call on the national interests of each one of them (and Germany notably). When they came back empty handed, they understood that it was going to be rougher than anticipated.
The EU best hope for unity isn't punishing another country, indeed. But the EU has to defend its own interests. And the EU's interests do not include the UK's interests ever since the referendum, that is the political reality, sorry about that.
macanghaill0 karma2018-03-24 15:46:42 UTC
It was my understanding that it did not benefit the UK in any way financially to remain, but I will readily admit I am not well versed in the politics there.
jreacher1 karma2018-03-24 16:44:58 UTC
The economic argument is a shit-show either way.
For sure leaving means a short term hit - mostly in the form of uncertainty weakening investment. What it means after that - long term - isn't yet really clear, and depends a good amount of the quality of the deal we make with the EU.
That said, it could well be worth the risk for the sake of the benefits that come from being outside of EU legislative and financial commitments.
mepassistants1 karma2018-03-25 09:08:58 UTC
the economic argument is not the most reliable indeed because everything is based on projections. That said, none of the current projections, either from the EU or UK, says that UK will ride out of the EU with no harm. You'll get a very hard economic hit (and the EU will be affected of course, but far less).
As for the financial commitments, even the UK government aknowledged recently that the money they though they would save or gain thanks to Brexit will in fact amount to nothing because of the economic consequences.
The assessment of Brexit being a good or a bad thing depend largely of the reason why you voted for it : if you voted Leave for the NHS cash, you're truly fucked, if you voted for the economic argument, you're fucked, and if you voted for the sovereignty argument, then whatever happens positive or badly due to Brexit is a win (even if in reality the UK could never afford to really divert from EU laws, even outside of it).
jreacher1 karma2018-03-25 09:33:50 UTC
Nobody really knows how Brexit impacts the long term prospects of the UK. It could be a benefit, it could not.
mepassistants1 karma2018-03-25 09:49:23 UTC
True, but it would be very very unlikely that the UK would be better on its own than with the EU. But wait and see :)
Tyler119-3 karma2018-03-24 15:41:18 UTC
Everything you have said right there is exactly why people have a problem with the EU. We have but been told everyday for 40 years that the EU is terrible. Also plenty of young educated people voted to leave. The leave vote was not a financial vote. Though it is accepted that the UK will be slightly worse off short term. In the long term the situation will likely be more balanced. An act of self harm, yes not accepting the status quo is not self harm.
How prepared was the UK suppose for be...as well prepared at the EU27 were?
In terms of defence policies, are you referring to the EU army? Good luck getting the 27 countries to pay up. How does the UK rank against each EU nation for defence spending as a % of GDP? I believe the target is 2% and that the UK spend is a surplus spend of 43 billion currently over the last X amount of years. Combined the EU27 have under spent by only a couple of hundred billion.
Leave voters could see it coming, the EU becoming more like a super state and perhaps they idea doesn't suit, especially for a nation that pays it's own way.
I keep reading that the UK must get a bad deal otherwise other nations might leave. Who in the EU can afford to leave? 2 nations could and they won't because they are the big boys of Europe.
On a different note I actually voted to stay. However no one knows long term how this will work out. Is it a gamble on prosperity and national happiness, perhaps. Personally being in or out won't affect me daily. Those in politics will be more affected as well as those that do EU and global business.
I wonder who will be recruited to replace the UK? I do hope that our security agencies continue to work well together. Despite the terrorist attacks that took place, I am sure that they have protected us from more than we would like to know about.
Oh and the EU parliament is just a sponge for money. When was the last set of accounts even published?
mepassistants1 karma2018-03-25 10:26:33 UTC
The assessment of Brexit depends on why one has voted Brexit. In my opinion, apart from those who voted on "sovereignty" grounds I don't see how one could consider the actual result as a win (and even for the sovereignty ground I'd argue that it would be a fail as well because the UK cannot afford to diverge too much from what the EU does in regulatory wise).
For the level of preparation, the EU had a clear cut and substantiated position 3 days after the referendum. The UK had nothing, waited a year to activate Article 50 because of that and is still outgunned by very very far. One just need to look at the result of negotiations to see how good the UK is performing.
For defense policy, the EU army argument is just a joke. No one wants an EU army and it would not be feasible in any case. EU defense policy means EU funding for military research (that the UK is now begging to be a beneficiary of despite Brexit), coordination, etc. The current model is very soft, mostly because the Member States decided in the end to go for something that every country could be a part of (while in contrast France for instance wanted only a few countries to spearhead this policy, allowing for a much more concrete policy).
And while I agree that Brexit is a gamble, I disagree that it will not affect you in your daily life. Because it will, even if you don't realise it. Look at medicine for instance. Brexit means no more membership in EMA that supervise and validates clinical trials for new medicine. No membership means that medicine will arrive much latter in the UK (Switzerland for instance can benefit from new medicine almost half a year after the EU in average, and that's a country which is medical industry superpower).
On security, that's one of the few issues in which the UK and the EU agreed from the beginning (even if May tried to use it as leverage for a few days but backed off due to the level of backfire). There will indeed be a continuous collaboration in that field because it is in the interest of everyone at the table.
The last set of EU account was publically validated last year, and the new ones will be validated in a couple of month. That's what we call the "décharges".
StripeyMiata13 karma2018-03-24 15:06:07 UTC
Another not as serious question. Does the canteen only serve local food or does it try and include food from all the the EU to cater for homesick staff?
mepassistants1 karma2018-03-25 08:48:11 UTC
In Brussels the caterer changes the menu enough to cover different "type" of European cuisine, and in Strasbourg usually they highlight a European speciality for people to try.
But in any case in Brussels you have a very large choice of restaurant nearby the Parliament so if people are homesick, they can taste food from back home rather easily.
Troppin8 karma2018-03-24 13:26:14 UTC
Remember when the Brexit guy said Belgium isn't really a country and that most of the MEPs have never held a "real job." What an asshole, right? But at the same time, it was pretty awesome to see the wanker go act like "fuck all of you, I'm going back to my island. You can all eat cheese."
mepassistants12 karma2018-03-24 13:32:04 UTC
Farage (I suppose you are talking about him), despite his ideas, is most likely one of the greatest speaker the European Parliament has currently (his nemesis Verhofstadt behind one of the few that can go toe-to-toe with him). And whatever the Tories might say, Farage is the reason Brexit happened : he pressured the Tories sufficiently to enable their eurosceptic wing and get Cameron promise a referendum.
Troppin4 karma2018-03-24 14:00:34 UTC
So is Belgium a real country?
mepassistants9 karma2018-03-24 14:01:51 UTC
Last I heard of yeah (although not the simplest one) ;)
Troppin2 karma2018-03-24 14:15:37 UTC
My friend said they are just an accident of European history. Is that true? What about Switzerland, aren't they just a bunch of weirdos in the mountains making clocks out of chocolate?
mepassistants10 karma2018-03-24 14:26:30 UTC
Belgian history is so complicated that I wouldn't dare to go into that. But a lot of Belgians are attached to Belgium as a country. And a lot of countries can be considered as an accident (look at the African countries, whose borders were determined by European power-plays at the Berlin conference).
Repeter18 karma2018-03-24 14:58:26 UTC
What are your thoughts on the incarceration of catalan politicians?
Bugs4Breakfast1 karma2018-03-24 16:48:55 UTC
I would love an answer on this...
mepassistants1 karma2018-03-25 09:51:31 UTC
I think it's a national problem, that both sides made mistake in this whole ordeal but bottom line is that those politicians openly broke the law. They made a (very risky) gamble and they lost it (I'd say that everyone lost, but they failed even more).
StripeyMiata8 karma2018-03-24 14:55:26 UTC
Hello from Northern Ireland. Everyone seems interested in us lately as in theory we can bugger up Brexit because of the GFA.
What kind of border (if any) do you think will happen between Ireland and us?
mepassistants13 karma2018-03-24 15:00:34 UTC
Well, according to London there could be some kind of fantaisy border between Northern Ireland and Ireland that would ensure the continuation of the GFA (so no hard border) thanks to fancy new tech that would do all the job in a seamless fashion.
Except that the EU Commission (and the rest of the universe) says it doesn't work in practice (no current example in the world). So the compromise is that should the UK come up with a realistic way to solve this, the EU would look at it, otherwise the solution would be to include NI into the custom union in order to guarantee the GFA and the custom checks would then happen when goods arrive in Northern Island for the rest of the UK.
And then DUP goes batshit.
whoisfourthwall5 karma2018-03-24 14:02:57 UTC
Seems that there is an increasing amount of political parties that are either eurosceptic and/or/either what some would consider far right being elected. How would you view the stability of the EU in the near future?
Are there going to be many more countries joining EU anytime soon?
What do you think the direction of EU is going to be in terms of Russia-China-US considering the recent news?
How about the recent US tariffs?
What actions do you think EU will collectively take against the recent Facebook revelations?
About the recent Palm oil ban, will it eventually expand to cover general foodstuff as well?
What is your economic outlook for the EU? Seems that a lot of regions all over the world has a debt problem.
Are you going to run for office yourself eventually?
mepassistants4 karma2018-03-24 14:19:53 UTC
Seems that there is an increasing amount of political parties that are either eurosceptic and/or/either what some would consider far right being elected. How would you view the stability of the EU in the near future? ---> it's going to be complicated, but difficult to predict because right now we are in a period of political reconfiguration where the traditionnal parties are getting put aside in favour of something new/rebranded, that can either eurosceptic (M5S in Italy for instance) or pro-european (En Marche in France). In the end, most of these eurosceptic parties know that they need the EU (because of their national interest) and they will play along (M5S and Lega soften their anti-EU stance, FPO is playing ball so far as is Syriza).
Are there going to be many more countries joining EU anytime soon? --> Before 2025, no for sure. After that it depends of the progress made by the candidate countries. Putting aside the case of Turkey, the only countries which will definitely enter the EU at some point are the Balkan States (Serbia, Montenegro, etc.).
What do you think the direction of EU is going to be in terms of Russia-China-US considering the recent news? --> Russia is seen as a serious threat (the Eastern States are scarred shitless, hence the push for the renewed EU defense policy after Trump threatened to pull out of NATO), but everyone knows that the EU must come to some terms with them because they are next door and are really important in a number of issues (energy and conflict resolution for instance). China is also seen as a threat, mostly on the trade side, hence the push by the EU to get a lot of trade deals (to basically make EU/Western standards the world standards and not being swallowed by China) and the willingness to protect strategic sector from Chinese investments (the steel industry saw the damage already, and you can see the political effect of Chinese investment in Greece for instance, who always try to soften up the EU position on anything related to China). The US is seen as an ally, but the Trump presidency is seen by many as an opportunity for the EU to take the lead on many things.
How about the recent US tariffs? --> The EU is united against that and ready for a fight should Trump go for one (last time the US tried, under the Bush administration, the US backed off for fear of EU reprisal).
What actions do you think EU will collectively take against the recent Facebook revelations? --> Well there is the EU Data Protection Regulation that will come into force in May, which will make the EU a data protection stronghold. Then you have coordinated investigations from the different national data protection watchdogs and the EU Commission is taking a close look at that as well.
About the recent Palm oil ban, will it eventually expand to cover general foodstuff as well? --> I confess I don't know the issue very well, so I don't know, but I'm pretty sure that some will campaign for that at some point.
What is your economic outlook for the EU? Seems that a lot of regions all over the world has a debt problem. --> there is debt problem (alongside a lot of other problems) for the EU is optimistic for now because it is finally coming out the financial crisis that started back in 2010.
Are you going to run for office yourself eventually? --> For now, it's not on the picture, but who knows.
tauntaun-soup3 karma2018-03-24 15:57:12 UTC
What's your take on the apparent madness of the monthly 'Strasbourg Shift'?
It's always struck me as crazy that we're supposed to support the ideas of people who still think this is a good idea.
Would love to hear from an insider who has to do it.
mepassistants1 karma2018-03-25 10:47:11 UTC
Well, you won't find many people praising the monthly migration to Strasbourg, even if the city itself is great. But it stems from political reasons and balance between the Member States back when the EU was created.
So the only way to change it is through a change in the EU treaties, which require the unanimity of all Member States and I don't see France giving up the Parliament (and I wouldn't if I was in their shoes) anytime soon.
tauntaun-soup1 karma2018-03-25 15:11:58 UTC
For me it reduces the legitimacy of the organisation. How can I trust their opinions on tariffs, agriculture policy etc when they're happy to ignore the ridiculousness of the monthly 'shift.'
mepassistants1 karma2018-03-25 15:27:36 UTC
This is a political deal (like there are thousands of all over the world and similar arrangement within every country) to spread the powers between the different Member States and having everyone share a tiny bit of Europe (whether institution or agency), just like the fact that UN institutions (or other international institutions) are spread all over.
For me it would be odd to shoot down an entire organisation's work just because of that. Is it outdated symbol (the Franco-German peacing-out) and not practical ? Maybe. Does it affect the work that is carried out ? Absolutely not.
tauntaun-soup1 karma2018-03-25 15:39:53 UTC
It makes them look ineffective. To be seen happily decamping an entire organisational infrastructure a few miles up the road to keep the French happy. The fact that everyone agrees it's stupid but continue to do it because, "uh the French", isn't good enough in my book.
mepassistants1 karma2018-03-25 16:00:59 UTC
with 94% of the budget going into actual policy and investments, I'd hardly call that ineffectiveness (and before you ask, Strasbourg doesn't represent the 6% remaining, it's 0.1%).
Maybe it's not perfect, but that's a compromise, and international relations and policy (and Europe even more so) are built on compromise. And there's a lot of things that are done (or not) to keep either the Germans, the Polish, the Slovenian, etc. happy.
tauntaun-soup1 karma2018-03-25 16:59:48 UTC
Looks like we found the francophile (I kid, I kid).
It looks ineffective because IT IS ineffective.
Pointing out that a huge big sum of money is actually just a tiny part of a gargantuan sum of money doesn't make it less of a waste of money and highlighting that it's just one of a large number of 'compromises' doesn't improve the situation either.
Obviously there are policy decisions and treaty details that are tailored to placate various member states but when one is so blatantly pointless and, apparently, solely done to demonstrate the preferential status of one member, it reeks of bad practice.
The inability of the EU to clean up such obvious faults leaves it hard to defend when required and re-enforces the perception that the organisation is a fat, bloated, ineffectual entity – regardless of whether or not it's true. That's the danger that the EU is sleepwalking toward. Just my opinion and I voted to remain
mepassistants1 karma2018-03-25 17:05:29 UTC
Well, everyone is entitled to his own opinion :)
youngsexylegend3 karma2018-03-24 14:36:15 UTC
Where are you from? The way you format your punctuation leads me to believe you speak French.
mepassistants4 karma2018-03-24 14:45:51 UTC
I'm writting on a Belgian keyboard (Brussels yay), and I'm used to use French at work so that's probably why you have this impression ;)
youngsexylegend1 karma2018-03-24 14:48:15 UTC
You didn't answer my question :(
mepassistants9 karma2018-03-24 14:50:45 UTC
Yes, sorry, but I can't tell you that unfortunately (figuring out the identity of mepassistant is one of the games in the European Parliament, and giving away the nationality would certainly help in that and potentially get me in trouble ;) )
barth952 karma2018-03-24 15:28:27 UTC
Hi! Thanks for doing this AMA.
Could you please share with us the pros and cons that you see of having lobbies being so present in Brussels ? What do you answer to people who say that the EC is basically run by lobbies ? What do we need lobbying for? To what extent are the cons mitigated?
mepassistants1 karma2018-03-25 10:05:20 UTC
I made a post on my tumblr on that subject some time ago, here's the link : http://mepassistant.tumblr.com/post/115390262924/could-you-tell-us-more-about-of-lobbying-there-is
Generally speaking, I think that lobbying (and by lobbying I mean anything related to interest representation, whether NGO or corporate) is useful and a legitimate thing, but that there must be rules about it (and the EU rules are tougher than a wide majority of the Member States' ones). So there is no pros and cons in my opinion.
Even if I consider myself to be smart, I don't have full knowledge over everything, so I need external input to build an opinion on stuff. That's the role of lobbyists. They bring us part of the expertise that we lack and based on what they present, their argument in favor or against, MEPs and everyone build their opinion. I consider for instance that my job is to listen to anyone who has a position on issues I work on, even if I don't agree with it, and then build my own opinion if I don't already have one.
Lobbying usually has a bad image because people associate it with corruption, which is utterly false. Sure you will have some extreme lobbying that will involve that, but that's simply illegal and whatever rules you might put in place you will always have that. Forbidding lobbying would a) be highly stupid and b) would make the situation worse because either everything would happen in the shadows or you would have policy made on absolutely no concrete basis. Lobbying in my opinion is a neutral toolbox.
The Commission (and any government or body with power) works the same. Before doing something they need to know what is needed, what consequences an action might have, if the solution they think of would be well received, etc. That's why they meet lobbyists as well, do impact assessments, public consultations, etc.
BigShlongKong1 karma2018-03-24 14:15:38 UTC
As someone currently studying for my masters in public policy, any tips for someone looking to get into the field? I’m from the states and studying in the UK so my situation may not be that similar but any info would be great!
Interesting and informative take on Brexit. Much appreciated
mepassistants5 karma2018-03-24 14:21:56 UTC
Get an internship in an institution or a lobby/NGO to get some field experience and then work your way up from there. That's how it usually works :)
Neker1 karma2018-03-24 16:08:19 UTC
What's your MEP's routine, if any, for meeting his constituents ?
Also, is there anything the Parliament could do to help stop the Brexit trainwreck ?
mepassistants2 karma2018-03-25 09:47:24 UTC
The principle of an MEP (and of my job) is that there is no routine :p
For meeting constituent, MEPs will usually use the "green weeks" (reference to the color of those week in the Parliament calendar, even if the official name is turquoise for some reason : http://www.europarl.europa.eu/ireland/en/european-parliament-calendar) to be in his/her constituency, do events and meet people. But the MEP can do that whenever he/she wants though, as he organises his/her agenda at will. The "only" commitments that exists are the plenary sessions and when there are committee meetings. Apart from that the MEP can be in Brussels, back home or wherever he/she has to be.
For Brexit, nobody can stop that, either in the EU or in the UK. It is a political reality, whatever your position might be on the subject. There might be a referendum on the result of the negotiation, but I even if the result was negative it wouldn't change the fact that Brexit will be happening. The Tory governement would likely fall and some general elections might be necessary, but even a Labour government would not "cancel" Brexit. They might go about it differently but that's it.
As for the Parliament, if Barnier supports the deal and it respects the EU red lines (and it most likely will given the UK weak position so far), we would not veto it.
virtwin71 karma2018-03-24 16:08:46 UTC
Quick question: Can we all come visit? For oh, say until next November? Signed- The U.S.A.
mepassistants1 karma2018-03-25 09:26:44 UTC
The EU is open for business, so feel free to come over :)
Shaadowmaaster1 karma2018-03-24 16:27:40 UTC
How much is the EU leaning towards a "Federal states of Europe" approach (like that of the USA with current countries as states)?
mepassistants2 karma2018-03-25 09:25:17 UTC
You have some very hardcore federalist like Verhofstadt, but even among those who are in favour of a very deep level of integration, very few want (or think it possible/realistic) an EU that would end up being somethink like the US or Germany or any other federal state. Because it doesn't correspond to what people want and you would have a shitload of problems to deal with.
Nonetheless, many in the Eurobubble think that the EU should be deeper than what it is currently, notably because in some sector an EU approach would make much more sense and also to build a direct link with citizens (90% of what the EU does is invisible to the average citizen). But you don't need a USA-like state for that.
Matchboxsticks1 karma2018-03-24 16:03:40 UTC
Considering Brexit, how much will it affect the economies of Britain and the EU? Can we expect a recession?
Thanks for conducting this AMA, very much appreciated!
mepassistants2 karma2018-03-25 09:36:48 UTC
I don't have the latest figures around, but at least for the UK it is 100% certain that there will be a recession (between 4 and 8 GDP points according to the UK depending of the type of Brexit, if I remember correctly). The EU will be hurt as well, but far far less and it will affect differently the Member States depending of their economical ties with UK (Ireland, the Netherlands and Germany would be the most affected).
The type of impact will be very large, not only because of the direct import/export between the EU and the UK, but also because a lot of products need to go back and forth between the two as part of their manufacting process (think cars, drugs or other manufactured goods), and those process will be disrupted by Brexit, because the UK will no longer be part of the single market and the custom union (that allows the free circulation of goods). The City will also be affected because (even if the EU grants certifications allowing them to continue their business with the EU) the legal basis for their business with the EU will be far weaker and people might prefer to base their operations within the EU (for instance in Frankfurt or Paris) to avoid legal uncertainty and also to be close to the regulatory bodies.
And that's only the tip of the iceberg. Bottom line is, whatever the final trade deal with the UK might be (and it will most likely be something along the line of CETA with a few additional perks) it simply cannot be as economical beneficial as being part of the EU, meaning economical losses.
segamad661 karma2018-03-24 16:06:37 UTC
do you sit in the big hall and listen to jucker, barnier and tusk? if so, do you find them go on and on?
mepassistants1 karma2018-03-25 09:38:39 UTC
If by the big hall, you mean the hemicycle, no because only MEPs are allowed in there. That said people usually watch the big speeches of Juncker (for the State of the Union for instance), Tusk (even if he speaks rarely in the Parliament) or Barnier (on Brexit obviously).
[deleted]0 karma2018-03-24 14:29:20 UTC
mepassistants11 karma2018-03-24 14:33:24 UTC
I love Juncker as a character (at least he has a human side, contrary to the human-boredom that was Barroso) so I'm not exactly objective about him :)
And it's not about dominating the European continent, it's about making sure it matters in the future, because whether you are Germany or Slovenia, good luck taking a stand on your own against the US or China. United we stand, divided we fall y'all
[deleted]1 karma2018-03-24 14:34:50 UTC
mepassistants2 karma2018-03-24 14:44:23 UTC
I'm pretty sure Germany would be freaking out at the idea of Eurobonds, but definitely not a specialist on the matter.
ZooonPoliticon-1 karma2018-03-24 14:56:07 UTC
What is the current euro view of the UK following the denial-of-entry to UK of the Canadian Lauren Southern?
mepassistants1 karma2018-03-25 09:20:30 UTC
Haven't read anything about an EU reaction to that.
vesperto-9 karma2018-03-24 13:32:53 UTC
When is the EU going to admit that the only U is of the financial sector and that it's all just Germany and France playing Let's federate disparate states 'cos it suits our interests and screw their national interests?
mepassistants20 karma2018-03-24 13:41:23 UTC
The Union is far from being limited to the financial sector, just have a look at the Brexit cliff and you'll see how far-reaching (but not visible at first) the EU is.
Then even if it is true that Germany and France are one of the biggest gravity center of the EU, not everything goes as they want, and everyone is defending its own national interest : look at the migration and asylum policy where the Central & Eastern European countries completely derailed the EU initiatives that were spearheaded in support of Germany for instance ? Or all the tax issues (where unanimity is required between the Member States) where the smaller country (Belgium, Luxembourg, Malta, Cyprus, etc) are slowing or killing of every possible effort.
The EU is caracterised by alliances going all over the place : one day you will have a North vs South alliance (budgetary issues), another a East vs West alliance (migration and budget), eurozone vs non eurozone alliance, etc.
Plus, even if you get some Member States playing hard about their national interest (Hungary, Poland, etc.), if you ask them if they want to leave they beg you not to kick them out because of the tons of money they get from the EU (for instance from the regional funds, to help their country "catch-up" with the others). And also (and that applies to all Member States, including France and Germany) one of their favourite thing is to work in Brussels on things and then either take the credit back home by saying that it was the idea of teh current government (while in fact it comes from EU initiatives) or by blaming Brussels for things they supported but are refusing to take responsibility for. The EU has always been the perfect scapegoat, but the danger is that it leads to Brexit.
ChiggyVonRichtofen4 karma2018-03-24 14:31:26 UTC
The idea that the EU is just a financial union is laughable. It's natural that the larger countries have more weight in how it runs, but every EU citizen benefits every day from the social and cultural union that exists on our continent.
Very few (if any other) transnational organisations are founded on a specific philosophy of peace, friendship and co-prosperity. I remember seeing a while back a picture of the EU flag, with the text, "Nobody has ever died for this flag. That's the point."
EU membership is a fantastic thing and I hope that the young people of Britain get to experience it again.
mepassistants2 karma2018-03-24 14:41:21 UTC
It's true that the EU as an organisation is a very unique thing. It basically fits in none of the traditionnal international law model (it's basically something between a State and a International Organisation). And that is also why it is very complicated to talk about the EU, because people's expectation will either be based on what they expect from a State (so wide political and legal powers, while in fact the EU can only act in some defined area and strictly according to the will of the Member States' governments) or from an international organisation (so an intergovernmental forum with little power on what happens in states, while the has some very serious powers that were given to it by the Member States and can act on its own).
And actually, it's not true anymore that no one died for the EU flag, the Maidan revolution in Ukraine was (partly) about that.
ChiggyVonRichtofen2 karma2018-03-24 15:43:10 UTC
The people in Ukraine didn't die for the EU flag though. They died fighting for their own rights.
mepassistants1 karma2018-03-25 09:16:13 UTC
true (hence the partly) but the sparks that started the revolution was the EU-Ukraine partnership and there were people who were killed/injured on Maidan while carrying the EU flag (and many more while carrying the Ukrainian flag).
Gamersville1011 karma2018-03-24 16:09:25 UTC
Although founded on the principals of peace and prosperity of its nations what would happen if 2 member states somehow broke out in a war against each other? Would members take sides would no one interfere etc? Also thanks for doing an AMA!!!
mepassistants2 karma2018-03-25 09:18:56 UTC
I don't see how it would happen (the EU, NATO and many more would interfere and force people to a solution long before it comes to that). But usually when it comes to "private problems" between Member States (for instance the current border issue between Slovenia and Croatia), the EU tries to stay clear of any direct involvement and only calls for everyone to chill out, respect legality and find a solution.
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