The MEP and former Belgian prime minister is a persistent critic of Britain’s decision to quit the bloc who served as the European Parliament’s Brexit representative. The committed federalist tweeted an op-ed published on the Euractiv network and entitled “Time to rethink European democracy”.
The article, co-written with Dacian Ciolos, the Romanian President of the Parliament’s Renew Group, and timed to coincide with the Conference on the Future of Europe which got underway earlier this month, urges the bloc to “fundamentally revisit the way our democracies work” in order to “regain people’s trust”.
His accompanying tweet explained: “Through the Conference on the Future of Europe, we have a chance to radically change the way we do politics in Brussels & beyond.
“#CoFoE is a sorely needed opportunity to reconnect politics with people & to renew democracy!”
However, he got short shrift from critics who were quick to point out what they saw as obvious flaws, using Brexit as an example.
Angus Allan replied: “The best way to renew your democracy is to leave.”
Another suggested Mr Verhofstadt and his fellow eurocrats should put their money where their mouths were, posting: “If you truly believe in democracy give every European citizen a vote on your vision.
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“Ending unanimity on foreign policy undermines this further.
“EU membership means surrendering your fiscal and foreign policies to Merkel and German banks. They know best.”
Meanwhile Peter Jeffries said: “You’ve had 70 years to get the EU right. How long do you want?
“There won’t be another 70 years as EU is disintegrating before our eyes.
“All the spin in the world won’t make any difference. EU can’t even get Amazon to pay its tax.”
In his article, Mr Verhofstadt writes: “A democracy worthy of the name implies not only respect for the popular vote, but also respect for fundamental rights and freedoms, starting with freedom of expression.
“The citizens who will be asked to express their views at the Conference on the Future of Europe will probably remind us of this.
“Yet in a democracy, effectiveness and outcomes only go so far. A third aspect, the ‘readability’ or understanding of EU politics, is increasingly problematic. People agree the EU level should play a large role, but they cannot see who holds power in Europe or how they can control it.”
Referring to the ill-fated meeting of Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara, which saw the former left with nowhere to sit, he added: “Sofagate’ is a symptom of the EU’s inability to speak with one voice abroad, to show one face to its own citizens, to be united in word and deed. Europe gains credibility when it can speak with one voice.
“Unfortunately, we have to recognise that we will not be the geopolitical player we want to be as long as Europe speaks with several, sometimes dissonant, voices on the international scene.
“Our partners know how to play on our weaknesses, so let us make sure that we do not become mere observers of the world.”