The European Parliament started an open discussion on LinkedIn in December on a draft report on the social aspects of Troika policies in bailout countries, with the goal of involving ordinary people and including their concerns. After three months of direct consultations, Alejandro Cercas, a Spanish member of the S&D group, wrote a report, which MEPs adopted on 13 March. We spoke to him to find out his impressions about this social media experiment.
Which comment shocked you the most?
The comments that shocked me the most came from Greece and it would be really difficult to choose just one. They all gave the idea of a social tsunami taking place there. Maybe I have been most impressed by the comments related to the violation of rights of access to health care including the acquisition and the use of medicine. All rights are important: collective bargaining, employment... But what is really unbelievable for me is that people are without access to the most basic medicine and health care. How is it possible such nonsense is allowed in order to carry out consolidation of financial institutions and public debt?
What has been included in the final text?
Without exaggeration I can say that all the concerns shared as part of the discussion have been incorporated in the final text. I was bound by the mandate of the report [which focuses on programme countries: Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Cyprus], so I couldn’t take into account proposals relating to other countries such as Spain.
I would like to highlight that all the comments shared great personal passion and common understanding. This has been the greatest added value possible.
How do you see the use of this tool in the future?
It has been a very interesting experience for me. Opening up these new ways of communication is very useful, not only so as to know what citizens think, but also to learn how to express our political debates in everyday language. For these reasons I think it will be really useful for future members of the European Parliament.
In particular, the social network we have chosen has the advantage of selecting qualitatively those involved in the debate. However, it reduces the participation of those who are more used to other popular platforms. Therefore, the EP may have to make an effort so as to open this kind of discussions in other social networks even if this may trivialise the depth of the discussion.