Thursday, February 14

:: Love, EU-Style

A special Valentine’s Day investigation from the European Parliament’s news service.

They can ask this sort of thing and come away unscathed… I shudder to think of what we’d learn if we asked equivalent questions to our members of Congress – well, the GOP ones, anyway.

...(A guide to the acronyms and abbreviations is at the end of this post)...

Love may be as important as the air we breathe but talking about love is not always the easiest topic. We usually leave it to poets and singers, and not to politicians. But on the occasion of St. Valentine's Day, 14 February, a day celebrated in many parts of Europe, perhaps they too can have their say. With some trepidation, we spoke to some MEPs about love.

1. If there was a European Charter for Love, what should be in it?

Katalin Lévai (PES, HU), author of the bestseller "Pillow-book": Mutual understanding and respect. Love is not only about sensual pleasures, but it is also about a spiritual and intellectual togetherness, otherwise desire dwindles away. Frédérique Ries (ALDE, BE): Please, no charter! Love is allergic to paragraphs and annexes.

Christofer Fjellner (EPP-ED, SV): Love should not be bound by any borders; any more than goods, services, capital or people.

Zita Plestinská (EPP-ED, SK): Love never fails. If we managed to put this idea into practise, the world would become much nicer. Then the Charter could replace many EP resolutions.

Henrik Lax (ALDE, FI): Live with your loved one as if every day you are together could be your last.

Genowefa Grabowska (PES, PL): There should be no age limit...nor should it contain any sanctions. It has to be based on persuasion and faith...Maybe the Slovenian presidency could introduce a Charter of Love.

Roberta Alma Anastase (EPP-ED, RO): Nowadays, people do not use the word love in public speeches, however, our existence is based on feelings, particularly on love. The European Union is a space where thoughts, feelings, attitudes are encouraged to flourish openly. I think this charter already exists and it is to be found in every one of us.

2. Would you like to share any good tips about romance and love?

Katalin Lévai: Be sincere from the very beginning. The one who acts a role will eventually fall.

Astrid Lulling (EPP-ED, LUX): You cannot organise or plan romance and love. It happens or it does not!

Frédérique Ries: For eternal love, admire and be admired and surprise, always. Boredom poisons love.

Genowefa Grabowska: The more you love the more you expose yourself to suffering. But suffering enriches us. Every grandmother has a drawer full of advice because she has been in love so many times. But her granddaughters will never listen to her, because they would prefer to learn from their own experience.

Henrik Lax: Enjoy the romance, but do not take any serious life decisions until you know whether it is love or something else.

3. What "says it best" on Valentine's Day: chocolate, flowers or something else?

Roberta Alma Anastase: Chocolate and flowers are good, especially if mixed. However, the most important thing is to be sure the person you love is there for you.

Katalin Lévai: A good book is the most valuable of all, if it is accompanied by a flower, then my heart warms.

Genowefa Grabowska: If I was cynical and materialistic I would expect my husband to give me a red car, because I like red cars. But I am not, so what I would like to get is a red rose.

Frédérique Ries: Give yourself, that's the real present and not only on 14 February. Give your time, your imagination and your heart - there are infinite possibilities for wonderful surprises.

4. Are you planning to do anything special for Valentine's day?

Astrid Lulling: Valentine's Day only became fashionable when I was already over 40. But one can always dream, so why not hope that a good friend will take the initiative for a lovely surprise.

Christofer Fjellner: Yes, I will spend it with my girlfriend, Cecilia. Since I spend so much time in Brussels - and to much time in Strasbourg - spending time with her is always - in some way - special.

Henrik Lax: "No, I will be in Kiev, far from my wife whom I met 43 years ago. I will send my warmest thoughts and feelings to her and all my family.

Guide to acronyms and abbreviations: PES, Party of European Socialists (center left); ALDE, Alliance of Liberal Democrats (center right); EPP, European People's Party (right wing); HU, Hungary; SV, Sweden; SK, Slovakia; FI, Finland; PL, Poland; RO, Romania; LUX, Luxembourg.

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