While the European Union and the United Kingdom are in the middle of negotiations following the Brexit, the question of the composition of the European Parliament is still an issue.
What about the 73 seats in the European Parliament currently occupied by British Members of the Parliament, but which will be vacant in 2019?The stakes are crucial because the British departure creates a historic opportunity! France, Spain and Italy support the creation of transnational lists.
A commitment of the French President
Emmanuel Macron has, since his election campaign and during his speech on Europe at the Sorbonne, campaigned for transnational lists at the next European elections.
The aim is that part of the vacant seats “be devoted to setting up a European constituency of about fifty seats, so as to take into account European political and geographical diversity” said Nathalie Loiseau, Minister Delegate to European Affairs. Consultations of all the leaders of political parties took place on November 20 and 21 to propose this new two-vote voting system.
The obstacles to creating transnational lists
A legal obstacle: the Lisbon Treaty provides for a maximum of 96 Members of Parliament per country, but since 2014, Germany has already reached this quota and German candidates elected on transnational lists would make it exceed this limit.
A political obstacle: the sovereigntist parties are against the establishment of a European constituency seeing a sign of reduction of French sovereignty and thus the protection of national interests.
The defectors then propose to distribute the remaining seats among the 27 Member States. However, such a solution will once again demonstrate the image of a fragmented and divided Europe.
A necessary European response to Brexit
The creation of transnational lists would broaden the scope of debates during the European elections but also contribute to the emergence of a European identity. In place of the next 27 parallel debates, it would be good to develop “a true European public space, united in its diversity”.
Abstentionism threatens the legitimacy of the European elections, there is a need to put forward the still incomplete European citizenship. The mode of election and the electoral campaign hardly reach the national borders. There is then a need to increase citizen participation at the European level.
A desire to strengthen European citizenship
Because Europe is a building that takes into account the voice of the citizens, the EU has set up a programme called Europe for Citizens which helps to promote citizenship and improve the conditions for civic and democratic engagement of the citizens of the EU.
This programme is endowed with 185.46 million euros for the programming 2014-2020 and finances projects of twinnings, networks of cities in still projects of the civil society.
In addition, the French President plans to launch, in early 2018, “democratic conventions throughout Europe to involve European citizens in the refoundation of the EU”, which is also in the direction of a better take account of public opinion and an association upstream of European citizens.
Despite the Union’s action to bring Europe closer to the citizens, a questioning of the Union’s policy remains, perceived as distant from the priorities of the European peoples. Will these conventions really succeed in involving people in upstream thinking?
Can a change of mentality also be made without changing the electoral rules? The final decision will go to the Constitutional Affairs Committee of Brussels. The process must be completed at least one year before the election scheduled for May 2019.