Monday 10 May 2010

Elect the Ghost MEPs, says the EP

In our blog post Shame on EU: Unelected MEPs (1 May 2010) we criticised the laxity of the (European) Council, when it decided, and the European Parliament’s Committee on Constitutional Affairs (AFCO) and the European Commission, when they meekly followed the three options, which allowed for the appointment of the 18 so called ghost members of the EP without universal and proportional suffrage.

However, the plenary setting on 6 May 2010 amended the text proposed in the AFCO report (A7-0115/2010).

The EP plenary (adopted resolution PT_TA(2010)0148) dropped the proposed point 5, which acquiesced in the loophole devised by the heads of state or government to allow for appointed MEPs:

5. Believes, as regards the appointment of observers, that the spirit of the 1976 Act should likewise be observed as far as possible, but that if technical or political difficulties were to prove insurmountable, indirect election via national parliaments would be an acceptable option;

Further, the plenary of the European Parliament 6 May 2010 approved a more exact text on its intention to propose a new election procedure (new point 6).

The EP resolution then added the new point 7, which calls on national parliaments (which have to ratify the agreement by the IGC) to uphold the principle of universal suffrage. With this amendment the plenary of the European Parliament saved appearances, and if the national parliaments follow its lead, its honour to some extent. However, if elections are arranged belatedly, they are not proportional. Hence, the June 2009 elections should be used, in my humble opinion, according to objective criteria.

The adopted resolution reads as follows:

1. Takes the view that the proposed amendment of Protocol No 36 requested by the European Council stems directly from the new provisions of the Lisbon Treaty, and is therefore a transitional solution that will enable all those Member States entitled to additional seats to designate the MEPs concerned; agrees that an additional 18 MEPs should be elected to Parliament for the remainder of the 2009-2014 term; insists, however, that all 18 should take up their seats in Parliament at the same time in order not to upset the balance of nationalities in the House; urges Member States to complete their election procedures in a pragmatic way as soon as possible;

2. Regrets that the Council did not adopt the necessary measures in time to enable the additional MEPs to take up their seats as soon as the Lisbon Treaty entered into force, and that one of the solutions envisaged in the context of the amendment sought is not in keeping with the spirit of the 1976 act, which was designed to ensure that MEPs are elected directly, rather than indirectly through an election within a national parliament;

3. Agrees, however, to the convening of an intergovernmental conference, provided that it is confined to the specific issue of the adoption of measures concerning the composition of the European Parliament for the rest of the 2009-2014 parliamentary term, and on the understanding that these transitional measures are exceptional ones connected with the specific circumstances of the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty and can in no way set a precedent for the future;

4. Recalls that, in the interval between the approval of the amendment of Protocol No 36 and its entry into force, the additional MEPs will be able to sit in the European Parliament as observers under Rule 11(4) of Parliament's Rules of Procedure;

5. Recalls also that the European Council will have to take a decision establishing the composition of the European Parliament by the end of the current parliamentary term in any case, and that Parliament will initiate such a decision under Article 14(2) of the EU Treaty;

6. Notifies the European Council that it intends shortly to draw up proposals to lay down the provisions necessary for the election of its Members by direct universal suffrage in accordance with a uniform procedure in all Member States and in accordance with principles common to all Member States, and that Parliament will initiate such electoral reform under Article 48(2) of the Treaty on European Union and Article 223 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union; insists, further, that a Convention devoted to the reform of the European Parliament will be called to prepare the revision of the Treaties;

7. Calls on national parliaments to act to uphold the long-standing primary law of the European Union whereby Members of the European Parliament are directly elected by universal suffrage in a free and secret ballot;

8. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the European Council, the Council, the Commission and the national parliaments.

The European Council for inventing appointed MEPs and the European Commission for spinelessly acquiescing still deserve public scorn and ridicule.

Ralf Grahn

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