Andrew Duff proposes creation of transnational list
By Célia Sampol | Monday 26 April 2010
The European Parliament will soon be proposing a review of the rules that govern European elections. Rapporteur Andrew Duff (ALDE, UK) has already prepared a number of measures, of which the hardest to push through the assembly is likely to be the creation of a transnational EU list.
The MEP will present, on 4 May in the Committee on Constitutional Affairs (AFCO), a draft resolution aimed at amending the act of 20 September 1976 concerning the election of the members of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage. The institution has a right of initiative on this matter and the latest reform dates back to 1997. Duff’s main proposals, meant to come into force in time for the next elections in 2014, are aimed at making the institution better known in Europe, reducing differences between member states’ election procedures and making the EP more accountable to the citizens it is supposed to represent.
Duff first suggests the creation of a pan-European constituency, from which 25 additional members, from at least one third of Union countries and with gender balance, would be elected. Each voter would have two votes: one for a candidate on the transnational list and one for a candidate from the national or regional list. Measures along these lines have always been rejected in the past because they implied a reduction in the number of members from national lists to make room for those from the transnational list. This time, Duff proposes to maintain 751 MEPs (the Lisbon Treaty figures that will soon be applied) and to add another 25 members.
The rapporteur also recommends that the large states be allowed to set up regional constituencies like those that already exist in France and Italy, which in some cases would require changes to the national election procedure. He also advances the idea of allowing voters to choose between a list and an individual candidate from a (semi-open) list and calls for application of the mathematical formula set out in the Lisbon Treaty aimed at basing the distribution of 751 national seats on the principle of ‘degressive proportionality’. An EU ‘election authority’ could also be set up to lay down rules and supervise the elections.
At the practical level, the draft report sees the need for restricting election days to Saturday and Sunday, pushing the elections forward from June to May, harmonising voting age for the European elections at 16 years and eligibility at 18 years, establishing supranational rules for MEPs’ privileges and immunities and expanding participation to EU citizens residing in states other than their country of origin.
Many of these ideas will be hard to push through both Parliament and the Council, but Duff is confident. He proposes, after adoption of his report in plenary by September, to organise a convention in 2011, followed by an intergovernmental conference to confirm the reform (see below).
The rapporteur wishes to keep 751 MEPs and to add 25 members elected on a transnational list
July-September 2010: EP decision on Duff report
December 2010: European Council decision to accept the EP’s proposals as a basis for negotiation
Spring 2011:Convention on EP reform involving the European Council, Commission, Parliament and national parliaments
Summer 2011: Intergovernmental conference
By July 2012: Ratification by national parliaments and approval by European Parliament
By July 2013: Implementation of the legislation in time for elections in May 2014