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Germany's Martin Schulz on the EU's Democratic Deficit: 'Europe Has Become an Over-Intellectualized Affair for Specialists' - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Martin Schulz, the chairman of the social democratic group in the European Parliament, talks to SPIEGEL about the forthcoming European elections, why the EU needs more democracy and his infamous spat with Silvio Berlusconi.

SPIEGEL: Mr. Schulz, do we need to introduce you to our readers?

Martin Schulz: According to surveys, a quarter of all Germans know who I am. There are some cabinet ministers or prime ministers who would be pleased with a figure like that.

Eurosceptic members of the European Parliament demonstrate after the Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

SPIEGEL: Why did you become head of the social democratic group in the European Parliament and not a federal minister in Berlin?

Schulz: It has to do with my background. I grew up in the Aachen area, one of the most Europeanized regions on the continent. My parents were staunch pro-Europeans from the war generation. They were very proud when I went to France in 1971 on a student exchange program. In those days, the concept of Europe was mainly about values. Today, unfortunately, personal benefit has taken center stage. People ask: What can Europe do for me?

by Fran on Tue May 26th, 2009 at 03:23:52 PM EST
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Germany's Martin Schulz on the EU's Democratic Deficit: 'Europe Has Become an Over-Intellectualized Affair for Specialists' - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

SPIEGEL: And the models?

Schulz: That has to do with Italy's shady prime minister, not Europe. What Silvio Berlusconi practices is only funny at first glance. This amalgamation of economic, media and political power in a single person is a threat to democracy. It isn't surprising that Italy has fallen behind on the Worldwide Press Freedom Index.

SPIEGEL: Models as a threat to the freedom of the press? Please explain what you mean.

Schulz: Berlusconi is systematically turning Italian domestic policy into tabloid news. To do so, he uses his entire media empire, which hypes issues at his orders. He uses the media to mobilize voters by placing his TV starlets on candidate lists.

by Nomad on Tue May 26th, 2009 at 06:05:12 PM EST
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Germany's Martin Schulz on the EU's Democratic Deficit: 'Europe Has Become an Over-Intellectualized Affair for Specialists' - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

SPIEGEL: Let's discuss the power of this chamber. Who would become president of the European Commission if your Social Democrats won the election?

Schulz: I admit that you are addressing a democratic deficit. The election outcome ought to determine the makeup of the Commission, but in actual fact, the heads of state and government determine who the Commission president will be. We should start by resisting the efforts to approve a second term for current Commission President José Manuel Barroso.

SPIEGEL: So your goal is to get rid of Barroso?

Schulz: Unfortunately, at this point we can only try to obstruct Barroso, but we cannot elect our own candidate. For this reason, we should at least dictate political criteria by which we would judge the next president. Together with the Confederation of German Trade Unions (DGB), we have compiled a set of requirements for strengthening employee rights in Europe.

Wow, he at least understands and talks about the issue publicy.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed May 27th, 2009 at 03:17:43 AM EST
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