Brussels, February 15, 2018.
On February 14 2018, the European Commission presented its own contribution to the discussion on the EU’s institutional arrangements, which will take place during the meeting of the European Council (Heads of State and Government of the Member States) on February 23.
Sadly, the European Commission rules out institutional reforms again, deeming that ‘[...] now is not the time to engage in abstract discussions of institutional reform [...]’. “We very much disagree with the President. We believe that current policy shortcomings of the EU are mainly caused by inadequate institutions. Institutional changes could and would contribute to ending the EU’s paralysis and inaction”, argues Jacopo Barbati, Vice-President.
Three main points are brought forward by the Executive: the maintaining of the lead candidate system (“Spitzenkandidaten”), a plea for more visibility of European parties, and the proposal for one single President of both the European Commission and European Council.
“We are concerned about Juncker’s sole institutional proposal, which would merge the Commission and Council Presidencies: we fear this would weaken the supranational nature of the EU and strengthen the Council’s role vis-à-vis the European Parliament”, explains Barbati.
The Commission proposals to improve the “lead candidates” process, are a good step forward, yet JEF Europe encourages political parties to also consider the factor of how a lead candidate is chosen in their political parties. “The Spitzenkandidaten system should be improved for the next elections, taking place in 2019. Deciding upon the name of those lead candidates within the end of 2018, preferably through an open and participatory process, would lead to an electoral campaign that is better structured, involves citizens since day one, and makes the programmes clearer for both the national member parties and the electorate”, continues Barbati.
In a similar fashion, a more visible link between local/national member parties and their respective European parties, as in the reform proposal presented in the State of the Union address in 2017, whereby local/national member parties would have to publish the logo and programme of the European party they’re affiliated to on their websites and campaign material in order to access EU funding, aims at improving the European dimension of the EP elections. “This is a welcome first step, but definitely not enough in our opinion”, states Barbati. “It sounds somewhat obvious, but it should be compulsory - and not like suggested merely voluntary - to display the logo and lead candidate’s name of the European party alongside that of the local/national member in the ballot papers. These are European, not national elections!”.
The Young European Federalists (JEF) Europe is a non-partisan youth NGO active in more than 30 countries. From discussion rounds and seminars to teaching “Europe in class”, JEF members engage for Europe in different ways. The organisation strives towards a federal Europe based on the principles of democracy and subsidiarity as well as respect for human rights.
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JEF Europe on lead candidates and transnational lists:
February 8, 2018 Joint statement for the European Elections 2019 by the European Party Political Youth Organisations
February 7, 2018 Statement: The European Parliament lost the chance to make our ballots European www.jef.eu/news/jefnews/the-european-parliament-lost-the-chance-to-make-our-ballots-european/
September 15, 2017 JEF Europe on the State of Union: A Step Forward for Federalists?
May 9, 2016 Statement from political party youth organisations on discussions by Heads of EU Member States to block the “Spitzenkandidaten” process of electing the President of the European Commission www.jef.eu/news/jefnews/jef-europe-supports-the-preservation-of-the-spitzenkandidaten-process/
October 25, 2015 JEF Europe Resolution adopted at the XXV European Congress in Zürich. Strengthening the transnational dimension