Thursday

20th Jul 2017

European politics to get more political

  • Politics continues to be local when it comes to European elections (Photo: wikipedia)

European political parties are gearing themselves up to actively fight for citizens' attention following years of low-turn out in EU elections and widespread ignorance about who MEPs are and what they do.

Under plans published by the European Commission on Wednesday (26 June), EU parties - such as the centre-right, socialists, liberals and greens - will be able to campaign at national level during European elections, next taking place in mid-2009.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

At the moment EU parties are banned from entering the national political fray at European election time, meaning that although the vote is about electing over 700 MEPs to the Brussels assembly, it tends to be fought as 27 national election campaigns with candidates made or broken on domestic issues.

The new rules will also allow parties to have a financial surplus at the end of the year and build up small financial reserves, they also foresee over €1 million to establish political foundations – providing an extra forum for political debate and research.

According to Margot Wallstrom, the commissioner tasked with bringing Brussels closer to citizens, it needs to be made clear that citizens' "political choice matters and that their active involvement on European issues has a direct bearing on their everyday lives."

The plans have been generally welcomed in the European Parliament, where MEPs experience first hand the political vacuum between national and European level politics.

UK liberal MEP Andrew Duff says "party political foundations at the EU level are going to be a key element in developing political thought and sharpening debate with a European dimension."

"I think the European parties have to be more present to create a trans-national debate," says German socialist MEP Jo Leinen, in charge of this dossier in the parliament.

Voting for a commission president

He envisages them having the same slogans, posters and a "top candidate who runs for commission president."

Giving voters a say on who will run the commission, arguably the most visible of Brussels' institutions, is seen as key to boosting turnout, which in the last elections, three years ago, hovered at the 30 percent mark in some member states.

At the moment, EU leaders decide who the commission president is, a system that goes on behind closed doors and is based on political pay-backs, ferocious haggling and a dose of whim.

It would be a "huge breakthrough" if political parties were to decide on both a main candidate and their programmes ahead of the elections, says Mr Leinen.

Barroso re-run?

This candidate could then travel around Europe and appear on local radio or TV shows so that people would then know what they were ultimately achieving when casting their vote for their local MEP.

It is an open secret that current commission president Jose Manuel Barroso would like to run again for the job when it comes up in 2009.

Many are now watching whether the centre-right European People's Party, to which he belongs, will endorse him ahead of the 2009 elections.

An EPP move would spur other parties to do the same, says Mr Leinen, with analysts hoping that such a move would then open up the European election campaign to transnational themes such as immigration, climate change, globalisation and enlargement.

With a new EU treaty possibly in place by 2009, MEPs are aware that they have to up the turn-out and improve citizens' understanding of what they do. As it stands, the treaty will extend the European Parliament's co-legislating power in around 40 areas.

Poland 'leaving EU community of values'

Leading MEPs and legal watchdogs have raised the alarm on Polish judicial reforms, but the European Commission declined to speak out so far.

Security and defence to top EU summit

Pressure is mounting for social media platforms to remove any online content deemed to incite terrorism. Draft conclusions, seen by EUobserver, have made the issue a top priority in leaders' talks next week.

Cyprus talks up in the air

A week after the failure of negotiations to reunite the islands, Greek Cypriots are calling on Turkish Cypriots to reaffirm their commitment to the process.

News in Brief

  1. Polish parliament adopts controversial justice reform
  2. GMO opt-out plan unlikely to go anywhere in 2017
  3. Slovak PM threatens to boycott inferior food
  4. France takes Google's 'right to be forgotten' to EU court
  5. Turkey accuses German companies of supporting terror
  6. Israel's Netanyahu caught calling EU 'crazy'
  7. UK does not collect enough data to expel EU nationals
  8. Polish president threatens to veto justice reform

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  2. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  3. ECPAFood waste in the field can double without crop protection. #WithOrWithout #pesticides
  4. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  5. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  6. Martens CentreWeeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Episode 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug
  9. CESICESI to Participate in Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services
  10. ILGA-EuropeMalta Keeps on Rocking: Marriage Equality on Its Way
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEuFoA Director and MEPs Comment on the Recent Conflict Escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh
  12. EU2017EEEstonian Presidency Kicks off Youth Programme With Coding Summer School

Latest News

  1. Polish parliament steps up showdown with EU
  2. EU urges UK to clarify its Brexit positions
  3. Law expert: direct EU powers have become too complicated
  4. Winter is here for Spitzenkandidat, but he'll survive
  5. Mafia money pollutes the EU economy
  6. Central Europe should be wary of Brexit stopping
  7. Poland's 'July coup' and what it means for the judiciary
  8. Commission: clean up diesel cars, or EU agency inevitable