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Enhancing EU Democracy through Electoral Reform

Yesterday, the Constitutional Affairs committee held a hearing on the reform of the European law and discussed the implementation of the 2018 Council decision on harmonising national rules on European elections. Following the 2019 European elections, the European Parliament has put forward suggestions such as the introduction of remote voting in specific circumstances, lowering the minimum voting age to 16, common campaigning and funding rules, and the establishment of a European Electoral Authority. These recommendations could be examined in the upcoming Conference on the Future of Europe.

Although universal election processes have been enshrined in the Treaties since 1957, European elections have thus far remained in the domain of national governments. During its last term, the European Parliament proposed changes to strengthen the European dimension of the elections, such as mandatory EU party logos on ballot papers, thresholds for larger Member States with single constituencies and a cross-border joint constituency with formally endorsed Spitzenkandidaten for the Commission presidency.

The Council approved amendments in June 2018, including the prevention of double voting, mandatory inclusion of logos on ballots, and 3 weeks deadline for submission of lists before election. No agreement was made on transnational electoral lists and the Spitzenkandidat process on matters of legal grounds. The reforms were not ratified in time for the 2019 elections and today, five countries (Spain, Germany, Estonia, Croatia, Cyprus) are yet to ratify the amendments.

Key Texts

EP: Stocktaking of 2019 European Elections (November 2020)

EPRS Report on Europeanising Elections (Feb 2021)

Council Decision on amendments to the 1976 Electoral Act (June 2018)

Upcoming Dates

19 April 2021: Launch of multilingual digital platform allowing citizens to contribute to the Conference on the Future of Europe

9 May 2021: Conference on the Future of Europe Inaugural Event (Europe Day)

The European Movement International position

It is vital that Europe keeps the topic of electoral reforms on the table as there is still a way to go with regards to implementing reforms. As discussed in our policy position on “European Electoral Reform”, to realise a truly transnational European democracy, an innovation of the European political system is needed. A reform of the European electoral system and the rules governing the European parties is necessary to strengthen the link between parties and the European public.

This can be done through implementing further changes, such as the creation of a European constituency in addition to the national party lists and voting procedures to create a truly trans-national European democracy, expansion of individual membership to all European political parties to offer citizens the opportunity of direct political participation in the European political system, the adoption of clear party programmes at party congresses as a basis for national election campaigns and ensuring a reformed ‘Spitzenkandidat’ process.



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