This article is part of New Europe’s: Our World in 2017

Belgium – Brussels – My candidature for President of the European Parliament has real change at its core. My candidature is offering an answer to the need for change and the opening of a new phase in the European Parliament and the EU institutions.

Why?

Simply because the world in 2017 is not the same as when we started the legislature in the European Parliament. It is not the same and as such it would be foolish to continue with the same formula that has in recent years ruled the European Parliament: The legislative cooperation with the European People’s Party (EPP).

This has now come to an end and regardless of the result of the European Parliament Presidential election, there is no possibility to restore this cooperation.

As president of the Parliament, I would like to begin a new phase where all groups, large and small, are going to have equal dignity and equal rights while shaping the decisions of this house. As President of the EU parliament, it will be my job to increase the transparency and democracy of the decision-making process. Only through authentic debates and constructive political clashes, the Parliament and all its members will be able to deliver concrete answers to the real problems of our citizens.

We must learn the lesson that comes from important changes in the world. After the victory of Donald Trump the world has changed. Europe changed with Brexit, the migrant crisis, the great popularity crisis of the institutions, the rise of xenophobic and radical political forces in Europe and the end of the Renzi government in Italy.

The only way to positively react to these turning points is to open the institutions to the civil society. Let’s open the parliament to the citizens; to their fears, their hopes and their requests. We cannot lock ourselves into a kind of fortress, as the EPP has obsessively proposed, out of fear of being defeated by radical political forces. We do not want to live under siege by our own citizens. The European Parliament represents half a billion European citizens. Discussion and the political debate are the pillars of democracy and the only way to reach a shared compromise and practical solutions to improve people’s lives.

With this new phase, it’s not the intention of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats in the European Parliament to put into question our collaboration with the European Commission of Jean-Claude Juncker. Our approach will remain constructive. If Juncker will keep on working to change Europe, despite the austerity “hard liners” seated in the Commission, then my parliament will be his best ally. Otherwise, we will have to drastically revise our position even though I’m confident it will not be the case.

Those who know me know that my door is always open to dialogue with all political forces. As the new president, I will be “a leader among equals”, willing to listen and work with everyone. I mean, all political groups, except the xenophobes. Each MEP will star in the legislative process and in determining a new season of change.

I sincerely hope that my main contender, Antonio Tajani, will openly announce that he will not accept any support from extremist groups in the Parliament. To date, to be honest, I have not yet heard any clear position from Tajani on this critical issue. However, I believe and hope that Tajani also shares the idea that it would be very dangerous if the new European Parliament president would be elected with the votes of the xenophobic forces.