STRASBOURG, France — Believe it or not, but in the age of tea party disgust with Washington politicians, Congress is actually still quite popular.
Just not in America.
Gallup on Friday revealed that only 10 percent of Americans approved of Congress, the lowest number ever recorded. But take a trip across the Atlantic, and you’ll find something different.
Here at the seat of the European Parliament, on France’s border with Germany, politicians and officials with the European parliamentary system openly admit that they would like to emulate America’s political and legislative system.
“We are a little bit like the United States before 1913,” secretary general of the European Parliament Klaus Welle told The Daily Caller and other American journalists during a meeting in his spacious office last week.
That was the year the United States ratified the 16th amendment, wiping out constitutional restrictions on a federal income tax.
That’s something the European Union hasn’t done yet. But officials like Welle are open about their desire for the countries of the E.U. to integrate more and resemble the federal system seen in the United States.
“We have the same tensions between the state level and the European Union level and that’s why — because the setup is similar — we try to learn from your system,” Welle said.
Some European politicians, including vice president of the European Commission Viviane Reding, have called for establishing a controversial new system termed the “United States of Europe.”
“We need a two-chamber system for Europe, as in the USA,” she said last year. “One day, perhaps, we ought to have a directly-elected President of the European Commission.”
“There’s a huge potential over here,” Welle added during the meeting. “Unfortunately, we might still have to wait for some decades for this to materialize.”
TheDC traveled with seven other U.S. journalists to Belgium and Strasbourg last week on a trip organized by the European Parliament’s Washington liaison office. The purpose of the trip was clear: getting the parliament, which doesn’t always get much media attention in the U.S., on the radar of Americans and the news media.