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Is Europe's Parliament losing its relevance?

Few voters are likely to cast their ballots in elections for the European Parliament next week. Not surprisingly, the institution is in danger of becoming little more than an amusing circus.

Published on May 12, 2014 1:55 PM

Over half a century ago, the bosses of Europe's state-owned media networks launched the Eurovision Song Contest, a yearly event designed to bring the continent together by providing some sorely needed cheer to nations emerging from the rubble of World War II.

Eurovision remains a huge success, one of the world's longest-running TV shows.

But it has long departed from its original purpose, and is now merely an engaging mix of high camp and kitsch in which trapeze artists compete for attention with transsexuals and strobe lighting. The last competition which ended yesterday included a bearded woman representing Austria.

And something similar may soon be happening to another grand European project: that of the European Parliament.

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Background story

The European Parliament cannot initiate legislation and cannot override regulations issued by the European Commission, which very often carry the force of law. Ultimately, it suffers from the fact that, paradoxically, it is ahead of its time. It is claiming to represent a single European identity which may one day be created but which, at least for the moment, is simply not there.