MEPs reflect on Europe

MEPs Ska Keller, Jordi Solé and Eva Maydell share their reflections on 2017 and their hopes for the new year.

POLITICO asked political figures from around Europe for their reflections on 2017 and their predictions for the new year. Here, three MEPs from across the political spectrum give their take on Europe in the year just passed.

Ska Keller (Greens co-chair) — Germany

What did you learn in 2017?

I learned diving and discovered the magic of the underwater world. It is important to preserve it!

Your high point of 2017?

Pulse of Europe. It was great to see so many people out and demonstrating every Sunday for a strong and united Europe. We need more such bottom-up engagement of people. The future of the EU cannot just be decided in Brussels. It is vital for the European project that people get involved.

Your low point of 2017?

Repeated discussions with men on whether women can have a career and a family. Seriously??

Your favorite movie/TV show from the year? Why?

“Atomic Blonde,” a feminist action spy thriller in Eastern Berlin during the Cold War. Much better than James Bond!

Three words you would use to sum up the EU.

Wanted: More solidarity.

Any new year’s resolutions?

Finding new allies.

What are your hopes for 2018? And your expectations?

A stronger Europe; more people marching on the street against right-wing backlash; and the next big breakthrough at the COP24 [the annual U.N. climate talks hosted in 2018 by Katowice, Poland] for the worldwide fight against climate change.

Jordi Solé (Catalan nationalist) — Spain

What did you learn in 2017?

How to do the MEP job, since I took office in January this year. I used to be an assistant of an MEP, 10 years ago, but since then the European Parliament became a bigger machine, a huge one, and I had to learn to bring this bubble closer to people.

Your high point of 2017?

Witnessing the dignity of Catalan voters peacefully defending ballot stations and boxes on our self-determination referendum.

Your low point of 2017?

Seeing Spanish police officers beating peaceful voters defending ballot stations in Catalonia. And seeing honorable politicians and friends of mine being sent to jail for honoring a democratic mandate.

Your favorite movie/TV show from the year? Why?

Since I don’t have much time to spend with my little daughters, whenever I go out to the cinema I always do it with them. So the last movie I saw with them was “Despicable Me 3” and I keep a good memory of that day.

Three words you would use to sum up the EU.

Peace. Globalization. Diversity.

Any new year’s resolutions?

To restore my Europeanism, partially weakened because of the EU’s reaction to the Catalan crisis.

What are your hopes for 2018?

That democracy and democratic mandates would be respected everywhere in the EU.

And your expectations?

That we could have again far-looking leaders moving the EU forward.


Eva Maydell (European People’s Party) — Bulgaria

What did you learn in 2017?

In politics, I saw the consequences of leaving the concerns, fear and discontent of people unaddressed. The gaps that seem to have opened and grown ever wider in 2017 can only be bridged through open dialogue — we need to listen, to go out there and meet with the people we represent, to understand the difficulties they face and involve them in managing the process of change. This is how we make the European project stronger.

On a personal level, 2017 marked the start of my journey as a parent and the many, many lessons I am about to learn along the way.

Your high point of 2017?

This was actually a very positive year for me — an invigorating combination of my work being recognized as useful, and new challenges to keep things interesting. I won the MEP of the Year Award for supporting New Tech, was elected president ofEuropean Movement International [the largest pro-European organization on the Continent] and am now looking forward to a very busy 2018, especially since Bulgaria is assuming the presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Your low point of 2017?

The divisions and mistrust that persist in our societies — from Catalonia’s secessionism, to the White House’s inflammatory rhetoric, to some of the radical movements gathering momentum here in Europe. Nevertheless, I think there’s plenty to be optimistic about — the EU has gone from strength to strength this year, and elections in important countries such as Austria, the Netherlands, Germany and France have shown the consensus still favours sensible, centrist politics.

Your favorite movie/TV show from the year? Why?

To be honest, I don’t have much time to kick back and watch TV these days.

Three words you would use to sum up the EU.

Unity. Strength. Solidarity.

Any new year’s resolutions?

I intend to use the European Movement International’s network and platform to its full potential to bring the European idea closer to normal people. We need to start the difficult conversation today about what kind of place we want to be — tomorrow, as well as in 50 years — and how we can work together to make that vision a reality. I have a feeling that 2018 will see more and more people stand up and actively engage in that debate.

What are your hopes for 2018? And your expectations?

I’ve always believed that one does not hope for positive developments, one works for them. Europe is not a remote, abstract idea, it’s something we all think, talk and do into being, every single day. We need to make Europe into what we believe it should be. So, I guess if I am hoping for something, it is that we all come together and work hard for a different kind of EU, which helps its citizens prosper and encourages their talents, creativity and entrepreneurial spirit.

Politico.eu

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