Monday

18th Jan 2021

EU parliament wary of pan-European lists

  • The UK will be leaving behind over 70 seats when it exits the European Union. (Photo: European Parliament)

The European Parliament is hesitating on whether to allow pan-EU candidates to contest the elections in 2019 following Britain's departure from the European Union.

MEPs in the constitutional affairs committee in Strasbourg on Monday (11 September) debated the future composition of the EU parliament, given the dozens of seats that will be left in the wake of the UK's exit in March 2019.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Both the Greens and Liberals are demanding that the parliament pushes for the creation of a transnational list of European candidates, but the committee's chair, Polish centre-right MEP Danuta Huebner, said the legal basis is missing.

"We have a situation where Brexit, the fact that one of the member states will be leaving the European Union, is strongly limiting the legal and political certainty of the whole process," she said.

Huebner, who had co-drafted a report on the issue with Portuguese socialist Pedro Silva Pereira, also noted that Brexit may not actually happen on March 2019.

"Until we have legal certainty, meaning that the withdrawal of the UK takes effect, we cannot have the redistribution of any British seats, so we propose to maintain the status quo," Huebner said.

A new proposal on parliament's composition would then take place after the UK leaves.

That proposal reduces the size of the EU parliament and ensures no loss of seats among the member states, as part of a new system that aims to iron out the current flaws. These flaws have created unequal representation among member states.

It would also redistribute 22 British seats among member states and open up the possibility of setting aside 51 for a transnational list.

In 2015, the EU parliament had also adopted a proposal to set up transnational lists, but it was never ratified.

But the move for a pan-EU party of MEPs has since gained traction among some member states, with France's president, Emmanuel Macron, saying it would be a step towards deepening democracy and unity in an often fragmented bloc.

France wants some of the seats left behind from the UK's exit to be assigned to a pan-European list - a move that is also supported by Italy.

A missed opportunity for EU democracy

The leader of the liberal group, Belgian MEP Guy Verhofstadt, contested Huebner's legal argument, noting that the EU parliament risks missing a historic moment.

"It's the first time this is happening in my life, that member states are now urging us to build up this pan-European democracy and we are hesitating to do so," he said.

His views were echoed by German Green Sven Giegold, who too described the opportunity as a prime moment to make the move forward "in the sense of European democracy."

Giegold said Huebner's report was politically compromised because it provided no guarantee of setting up a system of pan-EU MEPs.

He noted that Brexit presented a unique opportunity to push the issue as leverage with member states - especially given that the EU parliament must agree to any deal when the UK leaves the bloc.

"We don't have common credible programmes, we don't have European parties which truly hold European electoral congresses," Giegold said.

British influence declines in EU parliament

British MEPs, with one or two exceptions, are slipping in influence, whereas the Germans and the Italians have gained, according to a Brussels-based NGO.

Exclusive

Frontex spent €94,000 on a dinner in Warsaw

The European Border and Coast Guard Day is held every May. The event includes movies, football and volleyball matches between Frontex and national border guards, shooting competitions and exercises to detect smugglers.

News in Brief

  1. Navalny arrest prompts calls for EU sanctions
  2. Portugal's EU celebration caused corona risk
  3. Women's rights protesters 'evil', Poland's Kaczyński says
  4. Eurostar says government help needed for survival
  5. German party elects Armin Laschet to continue Merkel's line
  6. Vaccine-apartheid on show in EU neighbourhood
  7. Hacked EU files show pressure for quick vaccine approval
  8. EU court and Irish dog make history

Feature

EU Parliament: Strasbourg, or the climate?

A report of the European Parliament's environmental management unit proposes a treaty change to move the European Parliament's headquarters from Strasbourg to Brussels - in order for the institution to become climate-neutral by 2030.

Opinion

German presidency's broken promises on 'fair tax'

At the start of the German presidency of the EU Council it committed itself to a "fair taxation" agenda. But as we enter the final leg of its six-month term, time is running out to make good on this promise.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  2. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!
  6. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice

Latest News

  1. How one man and his dog made a mark on EU history
  2. Frontex spent €94,000 on a dinner in Warsaw
  3. EU's AI military strategy poses 'threat to Europeans'
  4. EU leaders seek to speed up vaccinations This WEEK
  5. EU name change masks new restrictions in development sector
  6. Frontex and Europol pledge greater access to documents
  7. Dutch government resigns two months before election
  8. The battle for Germany's ruling party that will change Europe

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us