Should we wait for institutional reforms to bring out transeuropean lists for the European election 2019?

Adrian Taylor - 19/02/2018

It is clear that institutional reform is required in the EU to increase the level of democracy. Any such reform will then have an impact on civil society. But we cannot wait for governments to act. There is much that can already be done by civil society both to prove that there is a demand for greater democratic accountability in the EU, and also that pan-European politics are practicable and desirable.

So first, what do we mean by civil society? Potentially it could mean the organised political actors already meeting in the European Parliament, the so-called European political parties, such as the European Peoples Party and the Party of European Socialists. But the reality behind these groups is mostly unimpressive, with little real connection to European citizens. At the other end, are the vast mass of citizens, who often feel remote from politics of any sort – not just that at the European level, but who may become active by voting, tweeting or demonstrating every now and again. In the middle are those emergent pan-European networks that are in the process of being constituted, some more single-issue in their focus, other more social, and a few explicitly party political – for instance DIEM 25 just to mention the best known. It is this middle segment that we should be interested in – using a mix of social media and spring-boarding off the ERASMUS generation – they are building a new form of trans-European politics, that is not just a cumulated compromise of national demands.

And what can they do to promote institutional reform, so as there is actually a meaningful office to run for? One idea is certainly to push for trans-European lists, but not to push for that at the EU level immediately, but rather to work Member State by Member State. Given the Belgian, French, and Italian government have expressed their support for such lists, and that electoral law for the EP is in the hands of individual Member States, then let those three countries (and any others willing to participate) allocate say 20% of their seats to a separate list, which is trans-European between those countries willing to join in. The emergent civil society could easily focus its lobby on this in the immediate future.

Of course the ultimate prize must be to make the European executive the objective of election – and here the trans-European lists would be a stepping stone to expanding the “Spitzenkandidat” idea to a whole government… Every step forward will bring another.

Adrian Taylor – #CitizensRoute2019 (06/02/2018)