HOW A BILL BECOMES A LAW
From initial discussions in parliament, draft bills are reviewed by the ministries and the Social Partners before being voted on in the lower and upper house.
how fast MEPS have to become experts on a great number of complex topics. The leader of Austria’s ÖVP delegation, long-serving MEP Othmar Karas, recently finished his dissertation on the European Parliament as the core of the continent’s democracy. “This is the most transparent parliament [in Europe], where individual representatives have the greatest capacity to shape things,” Karas points out. Since there is no European government coaxing its own deputies to vote a certain way, majorities have to be found case by case. “The questions is,” says Karas, “do we want to nationalize globalization or democratize it?” For Mandl, who “self-activated” politically in 1994 when he campaigned for Austria to join the EU in the 1995 referendum, the European dimension has become natural. So natural in fact, the Union should not fear pointed criticism anymore, he says. The debate should not be about an eternal “In or Out”, as the British are doing, but instead a passionate “How?” True to Austria’s self-image, Mandl’s motto for his tenure in the European Parliament is “Building Bridges;” between East and West and to other parts of the world, but crucially also between voters and their representatives. “The people know what they need a hairdresser for, but not a deputy.” The key is in our expectations: “Democracy is always a process, never a stable state,” he points out. “Parliamentarism is truly one of humanity’s great inventions, up there with the wheel, electricity and light bulb – our way of ensuring that conflicts won’t be dealt with on the streets with blows and punches, but on these wooden benches, with words, votes and convictions.” Back in Vienna, Stephanie Cox has found a way to voice her convictions about innovation, digitalization and the changes it will bring to the labor force. As she is settling into her role in the Parliament, she’s adamant about seeing the bigger picture Austria is helping to paint. “I love Europe and I’ve had a lot of advantages from being part of it,” she mused. “As for Austria, I grew up here and have so much to be thankful for, from my education and the security I enjoyed to the cultural exchange.” It is a world she will do her best to hand on to her children.