In the run-up to the European Parliament elections in 2014, the European Movement International (EMI), starting as early as 2009, advocated for transnational lists, ‘spitzenkandidaten’, European-wide election manifestos, lowering the voting age to 16, and generally, making the European democratic process more participatory. Shortly after the elections, these proposals were compiled and translated into a comprehensive Policy Position on European Political Parties and Electoral Reform. EMI has subsequently engaged in various advocacy actions directed towards the European Parliament and with the 2019 elections on the horizon, is seeking to renew and reinvigorate its approach to improving European democracy.

EMI continues to campaign for reform of the European political system towards greater democratic participation in general. We hope that the current discussion about this reform will inspire ideas and produce innovations that will strengthen our democracy. We stand ready to inform the big debates of our time, involve citizens and stakeholders in the decisions that affect them and influence the direction our Union takes.

EMI supports the adoption of the latest resolution on a composition of the European Parliament that establishes a new allocation of seats in the Parliament and opens the way for the ‘spitzenkandidaten’ process during the 2019 elections.

Composition of the European Parliament

Vote Breakdown

400

For

183

Against

96

Abstain

54

Absent

292 votes required to pass.

The resolution was voted on 7 February 2018 and passed with 400 votes in favour. Responsible co-rapporteurs were Danuta Maria Hübner (EPP) and Pedro Silva Pereira (S&D).

Key issues

Electoral reform

Following the start of the new legislature, in 2015 the Committee on Constitutional Affairs published a new own-initiative report on Electoral Reform for More Transparent and More ‘European’ Elections. Co-rapporteurs Danuta Hübner (EPP, Poland) and Jo Leinen (S&D, Germany) led the effort to amend the electoral act, which was already unsuccessfully attempted with the 2011 own-initiative report from rapporteur Andrew Duff (ALDE, United Kingdom).

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Transnational lists

The proposal for a transnational list, which would compliment existing national lists and have candidates compete for European seats in the European Parliament, was discussed both in the context of the Leinen/Hübner and the Verhofstadt reports but because of a failure to gain majority support for the move, was not included in either report.

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Spitzenkandidaten

The European elections in 2014 saw the first experiment with ‘Spitzenkandidaten’ or lead candidates from the European political parties. The European Parliament and the European Commission encouraged the nomination of candidates for the post of President of the European Commission by the European political parties, and subsequently the nomination of the candidate of the winning party as President-elect of the European Commission.

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E-democracy

Fostering citizens’ participation in the European democratic process is a key objective of EMI, which is why we believe that another crucial part of the electoral reform should be dedicated toward the development of e-democracy tools. New opportunities presented by the proliferation of technological advances should be grasped to stimulate citizens’ involvement in the democratic process. Together with ‘offline’ measures to improve citizens’ participation, online engagement can contribute towards closing the perceived gap between the European Union on the one hand, and citizens and representative organisations on the other.

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Looking towards 2019

What can be expected in terms of changes to the electoral procedures?

With regards to electoral reform, negotiations between the Parliament and the Council on the report on the reform of the electoral law of the European Union have not progressed. The Council Working Party on General Affairs discussed the report several times after its adoption, but do not feel ‘bound’ by the EP proposal and many if not all of its key provisions seem unlikely to count on unanimity in the Council.

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How to make future elections more European and participatory?

To make the future elections more European and participatory, the focus should not be on changes to electoral acts, but on changes in the campaigns of the European political parties that can be implemented directly. This can include:

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For more information on the European Movement Position on electoral reform, have a look at:

Statement in support of European electoral reform

2016 Policy Positon Citizens’ participation in the digital age: e-democracy

2014 Resolution on European Political Parties

EMI Policy Positions

Previous EMI resolutions (on electoral reform)