The European Parliament (and indeed the EU) badly needs characters to liven up an often rather dull institution. Hence it’s sad that 2 of the most interesting and influential MEPs are departing this spring, for very different reasons.
Alexander Stubb (whose work I have previously praised) was appointed on 1st April (his 40th birthday) as Finland’s Foreign Minister. He’s hardworking, sharp, eloquent and astute – not too dissimilar to David Miliband. A big loss to the EP – I wish him well. However with Stubb’s family based in Belgium I wonder how long he will stay in Helsinki? There are 27 Commission jobs up for grabs in 2009 after all… Bente Kalsnes and Ralf Grahn have more, and Ralf also links to an excellent article in English about Stubb from Helsingin Sanomat.
Veteran eurosceptic Jens Peter Bonde is also leaving the Parliament – retiring symbolically on Europe Day this year. Bonde seemed to mellow a bit with time in the EP, yet his jovial manner and probing critique of the EU had to be heard and analysed. I fear the shrill voices of British euroscepticism will instead dominate.
Both of these MEPs were also in their way pioneers in the use of the internet for politics – Stubb’s site in 5 languages is the standard all other MEPs had to aspire to, and Bonde’s site is diverse and comprehensive.