Call on EU Council to support UN Parliamentary Assembly adopted

8. June 2011

At a plenary session today, the European Parliament has passed recommendations to the Council of the European Union regarding the Council’s policy at the upcoming 66th United Nations General Assembly. The recommendations that will be formally transmitted to the Council by the Parliament’s President Jerzy Buzek include a call on the EU’s foreign ministers to promote the establishment of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly (UNPA).

European Parliament in Strasbourg
Image: EP

According to the European Parliament, the new global body would serve the purpose “to increase the democratic character, the democratic accountability and the transparency of global governance and to allow for better citizen participation in the activities of the UN.”

European lawmakers welcome decision

Key members of the European Parliament welcomed the Parliament’s decision. “A UN Parliamentary Assembly would make the United Nations and global governance in general more open, transparent and democratic. We urge the Council and the foreign ministers of the EU member states to consider the European Parliament’s recommendation,” said European lawmaker Jo Leinen, of the Socialist Group who is Chair of the Environmental Commission and co-chair of an international Campaign for a UNPA.

The spokesperson on foreign affairs of the European People’s Party in the European Parliament, lawmaker Elmar Brok, commented that “through the decision of the European Parliament to call for the establishment of a Parliamentary Assembly at the UN we are now a big step closer to achieving this goal. The creation of such a body in the UN system would allow for more closeness to citizens, democratic participation and transparency.”

The President of the Union of European Federalists, European lawmaker Andrew Duff of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe said that “the creation of a Parliamentary Assembly within the framework of the United Nations will gradually work to make international politicians more accountable to democratic public opinion. The European Parliament, as the first ever directly elected transnational parliament, can be something of a useful role model for the UN.”

Liberal MEP Alexander Alvaro, Vice-Chair of the Committee on Budgets, noted that he “expressly supports and welcomes” the Parliament’s decision. “A UN Parliament is a superb possibility to give the UN’s decisions a more democratic nature. It is a tool that allows citizens to have a say in the UN’s affairs,” Mr. Alvaro said.

Decision a “window of opportunity”

Philippe Adriaenssens, President of the Young European Federalists, representing 30.000 activists from accross the continent, was delighted: “The European Parliament finally spoke out strongly in favour of the establishment of a UNPA thereby boosting the EU's role in driving forwards global democracy. The High Representative and EU Foreign Ministers should henceforth sing the same hymn and strive for a direct representation of world citizens in the UN.”

The Secretary-General of the international Campaign for a UNPA, Andreas Bummel, said that the European Parliament’s call on the EU Council to put the proposal for a UNPA onto the agenda of the UN General Assembly is “a major milestone” that creates a “window of opportunity.”

In an article published in The New Federalist, he noted that “the least” what proponents of a UNPA now expect is that the High Representative of the EU on Foreign Affairs, Baroness Ashton “mentions the UNPA proposal in an intervention at the next session of the UN General Assembly.” Ideally, Mr. Bummel went on, “the Council would launch deliberations on important questions” related to the proposal of a UNPA in order to “lay the ground for serious negotiations under the auspices of the UN.”

Campaign supporters in Europe

In 2007, the Campaign launched a public appeal for a UNPA that by now has been endorsed by individuals from over 140 countries, among them many prestigious individuals from Europe. In addition to over sixty Members of the European Parliament and numerous national parliamentarians an arbitrary selection of experienced European politicians that have signed the appeal includes

  • former EU commissioner Philippe Busquin from Belgium,
  • the Czech Republic’s former president Vaclav Havel,
  • former French prime minister Michel Rocard,
  • Malta’s former prime minister Alfred Sant,
  • UK’s former secretary of state for international development Clare Short,
  • Germany’s former finance minister Hans Eichel,
  • Spain’s former minister of education Mercedes Cabrera Calvo-Sotelo,
  • former Greek foreign minister Theodoros Pangalos,
  • Turkey’s former minister of Culture Talat Halman,
  • Italy’s former minister of culture Giovanna Melandri,
  • Luxemburg’s former minister of cooperation, Charles Goerens,
  • Ireland’s new minister of education Ruairi Quinn or
  • the new Irish foreign minister Eamon Gilmore (who signed the appeal four years ago).

Download the full report as adopted by the plenary

Top image: Plenary of the European Parliament in Strasbourg (archive), (c) by European Parliament.

See also previous reports:

10 May 2011: European Parliament urges EU Council to put UN Parliamentary Assembly on UN's agenda

01 April 2010: European Parliament calls on EU Council to promote parliamentary participation in the UN