22nd Apr 2019

OSCE plans mini mission for EU elections

  • The EP has launched a billboard campaign around the EU to try to boost voter turnout (Photo: Scholz & Friends Group)

The Vienna-based pro-democracy club, the OSCE, plans to send teams of experts to look into preparations for EU elections but not to oversee actual voting on 4 to 7 June.

Three man-strong teams of experts are to visit 14 member states for about one week ahead of the vote to look at campaigning activity and technical issues, such as registering foreign EU-nationals as voters.

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The OSCE decision on Thursday (23 April) noted that, with 375 million eligible voters, the EU poll will be the "largest single electoral event" on OSCE territory, but said "available human and financial resources" dictate a small-scale approach.

An OSCE exploratory mission to Brussels in April came away with two worries after talking to MEPs, EU diplomats and the European Commission, but not the European Parliament administration, which "regrettably" declined a meeting.

The mission said expectation of low voter turnout "remains a concern because of its implications for the legitimacy of the elected EP."

It added that "it appears unclear what the avenues for recourse are, should a European political party consider that its rights to financing would have been violated by the EP administration."

The latest opinion polls suggest overall turnout for the elections will be just 34 percent, dropping to 17 percent in Poland.

Funding rules came under the spotlight in February, when parliament froze a €200,000 grant for the anti-Lisbon treaty Libertas party because it did not have enough signatories to fulfill criteria.

The OSCE also took note of the curious arrangements being made for potentially switching from Nice treaty rules to Lisbon treaty rules in the course of the next mandate.

The current Nice treaty provides for 736 MEPs while Lisbon calls for 751 deputies, with some EU states to field extra MEPs but with Germany to lose three seats.

"At present it remains unclear how the EU member states concerned will go about electing the additional MEPs and what the status of the additional MEPs will be in the meantime," the OSCE said.

"One possibility" under discussion is to see the extra MEPs voted in already but holding observer status only until the Lisbon treaty comes into force.

The three spare German deputies would then be downgraded to observer status but would remain in Brussels until 2014.


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