There are those who believe that the European Union draws its strength from its economy. After all, our Union is one of the strongest economic blocs on the planet. Yet, I believe that our true strength lies not just in the fact that we are a powerful economic alliance, but a great community of shared principles and values too. Values like freedom, democracy and the rule of law that underpin our way of doing things – our way of life.
The concept of good governance is central to this vision. It aims to strengthen democracy and to bring the European institutions closer to their citizens. That is why as a starting point, we seek to ensure that every decision is taken as close to the citizens as possible and with the involvement of stakeholders, including civil society, to guarantee the effectiveness of our work.
The European Parliament prides itself on its transparency, its openness and its defense of legislating in the public eye.
As a politician, but also as the President of the European Parliament – the only directly elected EU institution – remaining fully accountable to the citizens I (and we, as members of the European Parliament) ultimately represent, is especially important to me. Here I want to be clear: accountability goes beyond the mere responsibility of delivering on a mandate. Answerability is also part and parcel of political accountability.
The European Parliament prides itself on its transparency, its openness and its defense of legislating in the public eye. Both our Parliament and legislative work are completely accessible to European citizens. The principle of ‘openness builds trust’ is one we hold dear and defend. Yet, I know that there will always be more that we can improve on. The appalling revelations of late last year, which were perhaps the toughest moments of my political career to date, were proof of this.
When I was elected as President of the European Parliament just over a year ago, I promised to be a reformist President for a modern Parliament. That is why I have proposed a series of significant reforms to close loopholes and create better firewalls and prevention tools. I want alarm bells to ring louder and sooner. Sadly, there will always be some for whom a bag of cash is always worth the risk. What is essential is that these people understand that they will get caught. Corruption cannot pay and I will not allow it.
Currently many of these reforms are already being rolled-out. More will continue to follow in the months to come. Once fully implemented, I believe that this House will be the best example of modern, open, multinational parliamentary democracy. This is what European citizens deserve and where the true strength of our Union lies.