It’s a bird, no it’s an aeroplane, no it’s a eurocrat, nooooooooo it’s Captain Europe. For the inhabitants of the Eurobubble, Captain Europe is not an outsider.
Captain Europe, mild mannered civil servant by day and superhero… well, mostly at weekends and at other times on request.
This is the description you can find on his Twitter bio, but let’s hear more about his story, his goals and his projects for the future.
- Captain, when and where were you born?
I was born somewhere in northern Europe shortly after my birthplace joined the European Economic Community.
- How many people know your real identity?
I think there are about 20 people who know my secret identity – and a few more who know both me and my alter ego but haven’t yet made the link.
- What does Captain Europe fight for?
I fight for the usual superhero causes: truth and justice. In an EU context, that means a number of things. Truth can mean busting the many myths about the EU, or teasing and provoking the powerful to keep them honest. It can mean informing citizens about the rights and benefits they enjoy thanks to the EU. Justice can mean standing up for consumers against powerful corporations (something the EU does rather well), or stimulating police cooperation to fight serious and organised crime, or defending intergenerational justice by protecting the environment. All these things are policies the EU covers; I merely symbolise, and sometimes stimulate, the EU’s action in these areas.
- When was the first time you wore your super-hero suit?
I first wore my superhero suit in 2006, having been inspired by people dressed as other superheroes at a carnival party I had attended that year. I first wore it in public in 2008 at the open days for the EU institutions. I repeated that performance for the four subsequent years; in 2012 pictures of me went a bit viral, since when I keep getting invited to things. The suit itself has been improved and developed over time.
- Who are your enemies?
My enemies are Europe’s enemies within: nationalism, extremism and pessimism
- Why does Europe need a hero?
Europe needs a hero to fight against the above three enemies. We already have a European flag and anthem; why not a European superhero? After all, the Americans, the Japanese and others have them. If I can show people that Europe is on their side, and make them smile, I will have gone a long way to conquering those three enemies.
- Who is your favourite Commissioner? And MEP?
With no disrespect to the other Commissioners, my favourites are Cecilia Malmström, who has a great sense of fun, and Neelie Kroes, a tireless champion of consumer rights and the digital economy. I have not met either of them, but I have met Androulla Vassiliou. I have met a number of MEPs, including Jo Leinen, Isabelle Durant, Mary Honeyball and Catherine Bearder, but wouldn’t like to say which was my favourite.
- Who will you vote for in the next European elections?
As a superhero, I cannot endorse any political party. I would invite voters to follow my lead in examining the voting and attendance records of MEPs in this parliament and drawing their own conclusions. I will say that we need MEPs who work hard and are committed to representing their constituents and making the EU better, not people who come in, claim their expenses, make a few grandstanding speeches and then go to the pub without actually achieving anything.
- How much still needs to be done to get Europe out of the economic and political crisis?
Europe’s economy seems to be turning the corner at last. I think what we ultimately need to resolve the crisis is more honesty: people, especially rich people, paying the taxes they should rather than fiddling them; politicians telling voters about the tough choices that need to be made if we are to live within our means, whether environmentally or financially; and voters who are prepared to be honest with themselves and face up to those realities rather then voting for lying populists who just tell them what they want to hear. That will put us on the path to sustainable and sustained recovery, and also restore trust in our institutions – which brings us back to my answer to the third question: truth.
9 thoughts on “Interview with captain Europe”
I totally agree with him! Malmström and Kroes are my favourite commissioners!
Thanks – in the meantime I have had the pleasure of meeting Commissioner Kroes.
So Captain Europe,
Why is there a huge tax difference between different european countries in which the people of the countries with the biggest tax pressure get more poor and poor?
Why have an EU that only looks to grab money from the countries instead, make up laws that overrule the EU country laws and force them to give full commitment to the EU?
Why would the EU start with multiple countries that were already bankrupt to begin with, only to bail them out with money that is the hard working peoples money to begin with?
Why do MEP’s get a wage that is WAY ABOVE the average earning middle-high class earner?
Why do MEP’s get so many pointless and redundant expenses?
Why does the EU promote democratic values, but doesnt listen to the people and make up laws without the peoples consent?
Why does the EU make up laws that hinder the freedom of progress and economical progress?
Thats about it. The propaganda and nazi regime that is called the EU must stop.
This comment is a festival of speculations. If you want to make a case you should list names, states and links so we could have a discussion instead of generic groundless propaganda. Booooooooooooring
To answer each of your questions in turn:
1. Because taxation is, within a broad framework, a matter for each Member State. The Member States and their peoples seem to like it that way. European federalists call for tax harmonisation, but there is no majority in favour as yet.
2. I am not sure what you are asking here. The EU budget accounts for around 1% of GDP, which is around 2.5% of total public spending. Of that, over 90% flows back to the Member States. Are you saying that countries should be more, or less, committed to the EU?
3. This is a tricky one. My personal opinion is that certain countries – before my time – were allowed into the EEC (as was) before they were ready. Some claim that the EU is not doing enough to bail those countries out; others, that it is doing too much. Personally I believe in solidarity but also in responsibility. Tax evasion and avoidance is unacceptable; every level of governance has its part to play in combating it. Greece, for example, would not be bankrupt if everyone had paid their fair share of tax.
4. Pay for public servants and politicians is always a difficult balance. Pay them too little, and either you struggle to attract good people or they fall into temptation if offered bribes; too much, and they become out of touch. I think the current settlement for MEPs is much better than the old one, where Italian MEPs got paid many times as much as their colleagues from, say, Latvia.
5. I agree that MEPs’ expenses could do with reform. Simply bringing them into line with those available to officials would save millions of euros a year.
6. We do listen – through the Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions, hearings, consultations, surveys, contacts with national Parliaments and by other means. The fact is that you can’t please all the people all the time.
7. Can you give an example?
What’s the point of sharing this link? Can you elaborate?
Great interview! And glad to see that the Captain is also able to answer questions clearly and smartly.