1) Mrs Schaake, what is your relation as a politician with new media and social networks? How have you created consensus, nurtured political debate and encouraged democratic participation through the Internet?
I use new media and social networks everyday to stay in touch with constituents, and people across the world. We have discussions, and I learn a lot from people’s thoughts, the links to articles they send, and the questions they ask. I also like to drop questions on for example Twitter. Recently I used an online tool, an interactive notepad, to get input on a draft resolution. I was very happy that people did not misuse the open tool and provided very useful input. I want to use the available tools and networks more and more to engage people, to share information, and to ask for input.
2) Within the entire EU, citizens’ participation to the last EU elections decreased by 2.5 percentage points to 43.0 percent. What is the social media’s and social networks’ added value to create a European public opinion, if any?
New media can help people connect over physical distances. It makes it easier to discuss, or to stand together behind an interest. Europe’s strength is it’s diversity, so I don’t think we should strive for a single European opinion. I believe new media can be very helpful in sharing information, also about the EU, and to have a lively, interactive debate including politicians, citizens, entrepreneurs, students, journalists and many others. The decisions made at the EU level have an ever bigger impact on people’s lives. Scrutiny by media and citizens is key for elected officials and governments to be held accountable.
3) You have been one of the most active “respondents” to the initiative “Tweet your MEP”. What is your practical experience with it? What has been the reactions of EU citizens?
I was using Twitter for quite a while before I got elected. I believe it is good to explain to people how social media such as Twitter work, also in relation to politicians, which is what ´Tweet Your MEP´ does. It may be more inviting to participate. For me there was not much change as I was active on Twitter with or without ´Tweet your MEP´ and people were and are in touch with me via Twitter constantly. I actually believe it might be time for some updates on the #tymep site.