Transnational lists, best candidate system, no remedy for EU ‘democratic deficit’ –


Transnational electoral lists and Spitzenkandidaten The system used in the European elections to appoint the leaders of the bloc is not a “miracle cure” for the “democratic deficit” of the EU, according to a briefing report presented by French senators on Tuesday (July 6th). EURACTIV France reports.

Such “deceptive solutions” would even present several risks, according to the senators, including conservative senator Jean-François Rapin of the Republicans and Laurence Harribey of the Socialist, Ecologist and Republican group in the Senate, both of whom sit on the European Affairs Committee. .

The French legislator even pleads for the “Europeanization” of the ballot, inviting the future candidates to the elections to really seize the European stakes in their campaign, while insisting on the role which must play the media.

The report comes at a time when the Conference on the Future of Europe, which was officially launched on May 9, aims to bring voters closer to European institutions.

However, according to a survey conducted by the European Commission, 92% of the citizens of the bloc want their voice to be “taken into account more in decisions on the future of Europe”, while 45% say they support the EU ” but not in its current form. form.”

A single European constituency

“We need to go further than holding 27 national elections in parallel. We must create a real European electoral constituency, supported by transnational lists which campaign on European issues and give visibility to political parties active at EU level, ”said MEP Domènec Ruiz Devesa (S&D) during a webinar in April. Devesa is the rapporteur for an EU legislative initiative in this area.

According to supporters of the initiative, MEPs would be elected in a single European constituency and thus automatically “Europeanize” the campaign.

President Emmanuel Macron had previously declared that he wanted “to create transnational lists which allow Europeans to vote for a coherent and common project”.

But the senators also called for caution, believing that this could create an imbalance between the most and least populated countries of the EU, in particular given “the tendency of voters to favor lists presenting candidates of their nationality “.

French lawmakers also explained that the pan-European nature of the election would lead to more MEPs “out of town”. “These elected officials will have a constituency of 450 million inhabitants and will only be responsible to the party that appointed them,” the report added.

Conservative Senator Rapin, who is also one of the report’s authors, said such a move would require harmonizing voting methods while the bloc’s treaties already set a general framework but allow countries to retain a certain degree of freedom as to how to organize their elections. Some EU countries have “already voted against”, he added.

Amending the Treaties to this end would require unanimity in Council, approval by Parliament, as well as ratification by all Member States.

the Spitzenkandidaten system

To reconnect with voters, some are proposing to formally make the Spitzenkandidaten This system is part of European electoral procedures because, when appointing the President of the European Commission, the European Council must take into account the results of the European elections.

the Spitzenkandidaten was applied in the previous European elections of 2014 and 2019, where the European People’s Party (EPP) came out on top. If Jean-Claude Juncker, then head of the EPP list, was appointed Commission President in 2014, the Spitzenkandidat in 2019, Manfred Weber, was ousted in favor of another member of the EPP, then German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen.

“The benefits of the system seem relatively uncertain to us,” said Harribey, stressing the “disconnect between the chairman and the rest of the committee”, who are appointed by the chairman of the Commission, even though they are then approved by Parliament. .

“There’s no a priori reason to believe that the candidate of the dominant party has a majority in the European Parliament ”, notes the report, stressing that the application of the Spitzenkandidaten system in 2019 “should have led to the nomination of Manfred Weber as candidate for the presidency of the Commission, but many observers believe that he could not have obtained a majority in the European Parliament”.

Senators also noted that the introduction of a Spitzenkandidaten This system could reinforce the impression that the votes of European citizens do not count, especially since the internal workings of EU political groups lack transparency. According to the report, the Commission, although it plays a leading role in the EU framework, has functions and powers that do not quite correspond to those of the executive bodies of the Member States, risking disappointing the electors.

“Ultimately, the introduction of the single constituency and the best candidates would put European democracy in the hands of European political parties which do not yet really exist,” the report concludes.

Citizens are not happy with the current state of the EU, MEPs say

With the first plenary session of the Conference on the Future of Europe on Saturday 19 June designed to have the participation of EU citizens at the heart, some MEPs believe the event could be a catalyst for changing EU treaties. block, while others hope that citizens are not used as political pawns. .

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