It’s rather small, has four wheels, a large screen and is powered entirely by zero-emissions electricity. That last part is obviously music to a Green politician’s ears, as Bundestag Vice-President Claudia Roth made clear at the launch of the mobile information unit for the Parliamentary Dimension of Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the EU on Wednesday, 1 July 2020.
A joy, an honour and a privilege for the “European Swabian”
Roth declared it a joy, an honour and a privilege for her to launch the mobile information unit on this important 1 July 2020. Germany taking on the Council Presidency again after 13 years was a moving moment, said the “European Swabian”. Even though the presidency was perceived by the public as a matter primarily for the governments, as a fervent parliamentarian she was keen to make clear that there is also an important parliamentary dimension. “At the Bundestag, the heart of our democracy, we play host to the national parliaments, which we want to bring together and foster closer links between” she said.
Redefining European solidarity
The mobile information unit, Roth continued, is evidence of a desire to interact. “We are seeking a dialogue, we’re seeking a constructively-critical exchange, because the challenges we face are so large and so global”. Germany is taking on the presidency at an extremely difficult time. The impact of the Corona pandemic must be dealt with, even though this is not yet fully calculable – either in economic, social or environmental terms, she added. What is important in this crisis in her view is redefining European solidarity. She was happy that there is a broad consensus on this, the Vice-President stressed.
Roth: The climate crisis does not stop
Roth also gave the reminder that “the climate crisis doesn’t stop, just because there is a pandemic”. Instead, she stated, it increasingly becomes a question of survival. “During the Council Presidency we will also have to show that the Paris Climate Agreement is not just something to pay lip service to, and the Sustainable Development Goals need to be tackled”, said the Green politician. Corona cannot lead to “environmental transformation falling by the wayside”.
The Council Presidency, said Roth, was additionally marked by a responsibility for the rule of law and for democracy – especially in times where the number of detractors of these is on the rise. “We, as Europe, have to stand up for democracy, human rights, civil rights, for respect and observation of international law”. All the more in a world in which we can observe the erosion of international law and human rights, Roth continued.
Building bridges where others build walls
It was deeply regrettable – and would be reason enough for a minute’s silence – according to Roth “that we are taking on the Council Presidency without our British friends”. She declared the intention, however, to “build bridges where others build walls”.
A further aim of the Presidency needed to be achieving a common European policy on asylum and refugees, the member of the Greens urged. “Protection and responsibility” needed to be at the foreground of this.
“Cool” promotional film
The mobile information unit will be providing information on the interparliamentary meetings and conferences taking place during the Presidency and the Bundestag’s role in EU affairs through a range of services – digital and non-digital – on Thursdays between 10.00 and 15.00 hrs until the end of the year. A promotional film –described by the Bundestag Vice-President as “cool” – will be shown, and there will also be a quiz. Successful participants can win an ice-cream. Alongside specialist staff from the administration of the Bundestag, in sitting weeks visitors to the unit can also expect to have their questions answered by the odd European policy expert from among the Members of the Bundestag.
“Free ice-cream for everyone”
Gunther Krichbaum (CDU), the Bundestag’s highest-ranking European policy expert in his role as Chairman of the EU Affairs Committee, watched today’s launch celebrations before being asked by Claudia Roth at the end of her speech to take the mic and answer a few quiz questions. Krichbaum certainly earned his ice-cream, answering the quiz questions with ease. He knew that Helgoland is not an island in the Mediterranean, that the Chair of the EU Commission is not called Trump, Spahn or Merkel but is Ursula von der Leyen, and that the EU flag has 12 stars, not 16 or 27. It was only a call from his office reminding him of a meeting with the Japanese ambassador that prevented him from enjoying his ice-cream. No need to worry about any ice-cream going to waste, however – to mark this special day there was “free ice-cream for everyone”. (hau/1 July 2020)
Every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. between 1 July and 31 December 2020, members of the public can pay a visit to the Council Presidency mobile information unit near the Reichstag Building to find out all about the Parliamentary Dimension of Germany’s Council Presidency.
- Type of media Video
- Format MP4