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THE BIG QUESTION — July 23, 2009

THE BIG QUESTION is a new multimedia project on the World Policy Blog.

Jonathan Power: Can the European Parliament Help Change Europe?

Welcome to the new era of democracy. Elections for the European Parliament, whose 736 elected members represent the 500 million citizens of the 27 member states of the European Union, take place at the end of the week.

Not since the time of the Roman Empire has there been such an agglomeration of the peoples of the world. This election will be the biggest transnational election in the history of humanity.

But a tower of Babel it is not. The Parliament is the under-reported Cinderella of the European Union. When the Treaty of Lisbon comes into effect, after what seems likely to be a successful Irish referendum in October, a re-ordering of the governance of the EU will give the Parliament more power, and will strengthen the authority of the Council of Ministers with a permanent president. (Finally, as Henry Kissinger wryly observed, he'll only have only one phone number to dial). To some it appears to be a contradictory development, but there is no reason why both should not be able to tolerate each others' new powers.

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Al Gore presides over Arctic Roundtable 

As the United States prepares to assume chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2015, this inaugural convening of the Arctic Deeply Roundtables launches a vital conversation for our times. 

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Get the facts from Amitai Etzioni in “Avoiding War with China.”


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