A lot has been written about the fact that Czechs are among the most pessimistic nations in Europe. The latest survey which examined their idea about the future did not yield any encouraging results. Czech citizens' trust in the EU and its further integration fell from last year's 51 to 44 percent. In short, Czechs have a more reserved attitude towards the EU, unlike other member countries. On the other hand, in some aspects such as the perception of freedom, job opportunities or peace, the EU’s image is improving over the long term.
Surveys also show that Czechs are long dissatisfied with the lack of information about what the EU actually does and what the membership benefits are. And rightly so. Information does exist, but not everyone can find it and make effective use of it.
Every contribution counts
I decided to do something about it. Supported by my political group Renew Europe in the European Parliament, I launched a unique project in which I let entrepreneurs look under the hood of the EP. At the same time, politicians thus have the opportunity to see for themselves what it is like to be an entrepreneur, at least for a few days.
The "MEP & Entrepreneur Pairing" project focuses on politicians and entrepreneurs shadowing, aiming to have businesspeople spend a day in politicians’ shoes and understand directly from practice how exactly their work can help them. Entrepreneurs often only get to see the final outcome of the lawmakers' work – and they are not the only ones. So after they read their morning newspaper, they are logically concerned about what the EU has come up with again. They often have no idea that they, too, can influence decision-making and have a say in controversial or unsatisfactory proposals.
Politicians, specifically MEPs, must rely on data, statistics and arguments in their work. To perform their job in the best and most responsible way, they need to know how things actually work in practice and familiarize themselves with specific stories and use cases. This is exactly what the MEP & Entrepreneur Pairing program is about. On top, it helps both parties to communicate in a way that they understand and benefit each other.
Feet on the ground
Many people have expressed their interest in the project. I have already had two Czech entrepreneurs participating and spending a few days in Brussels with me. The first was Aneta Martinek, co-founder and CEO of the educational platform #HolkyzMarketingu. Her company mainly focuses on helping women gain a better position on the labour market. The other entrepreneur who came to see me at the EP was Jitka Balážová, who runs a bookbinding workshop in Zlín and believes in traditional crafts.
Shadowing both entrepreneurs has taught me a lot. I realized again that if politicians lose touch with reality and get locked in their bubble, they cannot really help people or companies. I wish there were more politicians who are down-to-earth and entrepreneurs who are willing to contribute.
Written by Martina Dlabajová
Photo credits: Martina Dlabajová