Saturday, 12 November 2011

More Europe Manifesto: pan-European lists and elected Commission president

In order to overcome the crises in the eurozone and the wider European Union, a group of Spanish eurobloggers has launched an appeal for More Europe.

You can read and sign the appeal on the More Europe blog. You can participate in the Twitter discussion @moreurope and under the hashtag #moreurope, and you can help to spread the word among citizens of the European Union.

The initiators act as EU citizens. Thus they want to build on European achievements important for ordinary people. Their appeal is now available in eight languages.

After stating the need for greater European integration, their fifth proposal aims at bringing real democracy a step closer at the European level.

“More Europe” Statement

Given the dramatic social situation in many Member States caused by the economical crisis and the anti-European voices predicting the breakup of the Economic and Monetary Union, the undersigned ask for More Europe.

We consider it is necessary to move to a greater European integration in order to address the current situation of social and economic crisis affecting Europe and for this reason we will join our forces as European citizens. To achieve our goal we claim that:


5) We believe it is very important to increase the participation of citizens in the European decision making process. With that aim we suggest the direct election of the European Commission’s President through the creation of supranational European Parliament electoral slates.

Pan-European lists

Andrew Duff MEP has drafted a report adopted by the Constitutional Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, but not voted on yet by the plenary.

The proposal would attribute an added 25 seats in the EP to candidates proposed by the European political parties (Europarties) throughout the 27 member states. These members would be elected in a pan-EU constituency from transnational lists.

Every elector would have two votes - one for the national or regional list and one for the transnational, pan-European list:

Committee on Constitutional Affairs: DRAFT SECOND REPORT on a proposal for a modification of the Act concerning the election of the members of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage of 20 September 1976; 20.9.2011, rapporteur: Andrew Duff

You can follow the next steps of the procedure under 2009/2134(INI).

The election procedure is one of the rare legislative issues where the right of initiative belongs to the European Parliament. However, the dismal progress of EP electoral law during more than 30 years is due to the lack of political will and the unanimity requirement in the Council (government representatives) and at member state level (ratification by every national parliament).

The proposal means that the political parties at European level would finally have to do what they are meant to do: become active in the election campaign, putting forward their best candidate for president of the European Commission and their political programme for the next five years.

PES primary

Activists in the Party of European Socialists (PES) have proposed that the top candidate, the possible president of the European Commission, should be elected through a primary.

This would set activists going earlier, engender publicity and possible adherents and give the chosen front runner a firmer claim on democratic legitimacy.

The PES has promised to study the proposal (and the practical implications).

It is going to be interesting to see how the EPP, the Liberals, the Greens and the other Europarties are going to take up the challenge.

President of the Commission

Through pan-European debates and media coverage, the election campaign would bring European issues to the fore, instead of the comatose Europarties and 27 national campaigns on mainly domestic issues we have seen this far.

We have to assume that the European Council would not only take into account the elections to the European Parliament, but actually carry out the will of the people when proposing the Commission president to the European Parliament.

The reform would be one step forward on the road towards a functioning representative democracy at EU level, which should entail a parliamentary system of accountable government based on the votes of the citizens.

However, it falls short of truly representative government, if the rest of the commissioners are still essentially nominated by the governments of the member states, not as a coalition government resulting from the EP election.

Even if only a step in the right direction, the More Europe Manifesto calls for electoral reform to give the EU citizens more voice in union affairs.

Democratic European Union?

About sixty years into European integration (Council of Europe, Schuman declaration, European Coal and Steel Community ECSC) the institutions of the European Union have democratic embellishments, but democracy has not arrived at the European level.

With political leaders half paralysed and citizens increasingly despairing, I think we have reached the point of no return. Either the failures continue to pile up, or we establish democracy and sufficient powers where the issues and challenges are: at the level of the European Union or the eurozone.

I recommend reading the following two articles thoughtfully.

Stefan Collignon wrote a column for the Social Europe Journal, where he discusses European level democracy in plain words. Citizens are the sovereign, not states, and they have a common interest in controlling their government, he says in European Catharsis.

A democratic union (eurozone) or disintegration? Ulrike Guérot of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) discusses the crisis in the eurozone and the need for democracy: Germany in Europe: the politics of disintegration.

More ”comprehensive solution” failures, or a new beginning? Our leaders owe us some answers, but citizens need to raise the questions as well.

More Europe proposals

I have mentioned the refreshing More Europe initiative of the Spanish eurobloggers in earlier posts: announcement, free movement, EU symbols and education about European integration, as well as fiscal and social harmonisation in the eurozone.

Read and sign the appeal on the More Europe blog, participate in the Twitter discussion @moreurope, hashtag #moreurope, and help to spread the word.


Popular sovereignty is the essence of citizenship; so it should be for the EU citizenship we have in name. We have to start claiming our rights.

Ralf Grahn