Thursday

17th Jan 2019

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

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join 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.

MEPs redouble appeal on sexual harassment

The EU parliament's internal chiefs have so far refused to introduce mandatory training on dealing with sexual harassment. MEPs have now asked for it again.

Centre-right MEPs want transparency vote to be secret

A number of centre-right MEPs are pushing for a secret ballot on a plenary vote that would make EU lawmakers more transparent and accountable to the public - in a move described as "absurd" by Transparency International.

News in Brief

  1. Another referendum 'would take a year', Downing St says
  2. 82-year old Berlusconi to run in EU elections
  3. EU parliament votes to triple funds for democracy promotion
  4. EU parliament backs linking budget payments to rule of law
  5. Verhofstadt voted for Draghi amendment 'by mistake'
  6. 'Plan B' Brexit vote in UK parliament set for 29 January
  7. Verhofstadt wanted Draghi out of G30 group
  8. Putin heads to Serbia amid warnings against West

Opinion

Fiscal discipline rules in eurozone are devastating

New rules are needed that do not place the heaviest burdens on a few countries, but ensure that all countries benefit from the euro. Avoiding imbalances in trade between countries can do this.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Brexit delay 'reasonable', as May tries cross-party talks
  2. MEPs allow Draghi's membership of secretive bank group
  3. EU parliament backs Morocco deal despite row
  4. Barnier open to 'future relations' talks if UK red lines shift
  5. German spies to monitor far-right AfD party
  6. On Morocco, will the EU ignore its own court?
  7. UK parliament rejects May's Brexit deal in historic defeat
  8. EU suggests majority vote on digital tax by 2025

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us