Sunday

25th Jul 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.

Catalan MEPs lose immunity, slam 'political persecution'

Catalan separatist MEPs Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí lost their parliamentary immunity - a result they have hailed as a "political victory" for bringing the conflict between Catalonia and Spain closer to the heart of Europe.

12-month Future EU Conference is 'impossible', expert warns

The debate about the much-delayed Conference on the Future of Europe so far has been locked in endless institutional infighting over who should lead the event - lowering the expectations about what can be achieved in the coming months.

News in Brief

  1. Macron changes phone after Pegasus spyware revelations
  2. Italy to impose 'vaccinated-only' entry on indoor entertainment
  3. EU 'will not renegotiate' Irish protocol
  4. Brussels migrants end hunger strike
  5. Elderly EU nationals in UK-status limbo after missed deadline
  6. WHO: 11bn doses needed to reach global vaccination target
  7. EU to share 200m Covid vaccine doses by end of 2021
  8. Spain ends outdoor mask-wearing despite surge

MEPs chide Portugal and Council in EU prosecutor dispute

The Belgian and Bulgarian prosecutors who were appointed had also not been the experts' first choice. Belgian prosecutor Jean-Michel Verelst has challenged the council's decision at the European Court of Justice.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. Far left and right MEPs less critical of China and Russia
  2. Why is offshore wind the 'Cinderella' of EU climate policy?
  3. Open letter from 30 embassies ahead of Budapest Pride
  4. Orbán counters EU by calling referendum on anti-LGBTI law
  5. Why aren't EU's CSDP missions working?
  6. Romania most keen to join eurozone
  7. Slovenia risks court over EU anti-graft office
  8. Sweden's gang and gun violence sets politicians bickering

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us