You won’t believe me if I tell you that my last trip to China made me think about the EU and my job in the European Parliament. Indeed, China and EU do not have a lot in common, if we look at the culture, the political structure, the level of political engagement, the freedom of press etc. However, I had a strong experience there which made me think of what I sometimes – even if to a smaller extent – can experience here in Brussels.
I was in China for the wedding of Chinese friends. It was a good opportunity to travel around the country, mostly in the South, but at the end we came back to Beijing, where we spent two days, before taking the plane back to Brussels.
And it’s only when I landed in Europe that I heard that some – shy – demonstrations were cracked down by the police in Beijing. Nothing surprising, you will tell me, as everyone knows the censorship that takes place in China (I experienced it while working in China Radio International in the summer 2006…). However, it echoed something that happens everyday at work: when I open Le Monde every morning, the French newspaper I get in the office, I learn some new things that happened or are happening in the EU institutions and in the European Parliament…
Yes, I do believe in the power people outside the institution can have. They may need us but, for sure, we need them as well.
Not that I don’t know what happens in the house where I worked but being here on the spot does not necessarily mean that I can see and hear everything. Lost in the day-to-day workflow or in the mysteries of a big administration, I miss some major political debates and issues. Damn, it’s sometimes much better to be outside the institution to look into it, to understand it and… to be free to say what you want about it!
This is not a plea for freedom of expression in the EP, don’t misunderstand me. It’s just that we work here under particular constraints – those being neutrality, transparency, objectivity. And it’s good so but it can not replace opinion, criticism, well-documented journalism… Yes, being outside the Parliament allows YOU to communicate very efficiently about what we do, what we are and why we matter (or not).
Yes, I’m an insider, explaining the European Parliament from the inside. And yes, I do believe in the power people outside the institution can have. They may need us but, for sure, we need them as well.