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Europe

A transnational list would have created a more distant, less democratic EU

| February 15, 2018

To strengthen the EU, we must all work to close the gap between European institutions and European citizens. That’s the position of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and the one that the Hungarian EPP delegation has advocated for some time. After all, European integration is for the people and not the other way around. Last week’s rejection of the transnational list for EP elections – by an overwhelming majority of MEPs – is absolutely a step in the right direction.
As a result of Brexit, the planned departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union will vacate 73 seats in the European Parliament. In order to meet its obligations prescribed by the Treaties and to restore the principle of degressive proportionality, the EP’s Constitutional Affairs Committee (AFCO) drafted a report that proposed distributing a number of seats among Member States while keeping 27 open for what they called a pan-European or transnational list.
According to the proposal, these 27 seats would be filled in by “pan-European representatives” running in a “joint European constituency”. President Macron himself is a great advocate of this idea, which This would completely undercut the current link between the members and the electorate. The architects behind this idea seemed to believe that a transnational list of this kind would magically produce a supranational European consciousness. They don’t seem to understand that there is no such thing as a European demos.
“This proposal took an unapologetically top-down, elite-driven approach to a practical challenge, apparently starting from the belief that if a transnational list comes into being so will the European demos. Not only is this a fatal assumption, but the only thing a transnational list would do is generate 27 free-floating MEPs answerable to no one. They would have power without an electorate, power without accountability, and power without responsibility. Power without responsibility follows a quick route to arbitrariness” – highlighted MEP György Schöpflin, EPP coordinator of the AFCO committee.
If even the most stable, successful federal unions do not have a single, joint constituency, then why should Europe – which is not even a fully integrated federation – have one?
A transnational list would be a drift toward greater centralism at odds with the goal to build a more democratic and accountable European Union. The Parliament’s rejection of the list was a step in the right direction because the idea as proposed was as undemocratic as it gets.
Commission published its own proposal how to make the EU’s work more efficient on 14th February. EU Leaders will discuss further the future institutional set-up of the EU on 23 February.