June 15, 2014
As a citizen, the first impact experienced in recent elections was the impossibility to vote candidates belonging to different national parties while reunited under the same European party-family. Is this an issue? Yes, there is both a psychological and a rational reason for thinking so. A citizen with an European mind – especially a young Erasmus former scholar – places more importance to the prospective MP personality and his/her capability to fill the position rather than the national party the candidate belongs to; it stands to reason that the number of national parties is larger than the number of European groupings with the consequence that an MP may find himself cooperating with a colleague of slightly different political vision if seen on a national context, hence the rational aspect of the matter.
In future EU elections it would be worth considering the opportunity to attach candidacies directly to the European party-families enabling citizens, irrespective of their residence within the EU, to vote their preferred applicants; the non-elected would be facilitated in filling a national position. Besides increasing the chance to have more appropriate MP profiles at European level, the system presents the merit to involve the voter directly in the advancement of the Union.
A distortion occurred in recent elections enabled the Italian “Movimento 5 Stelle” to gain a significant 21% without mentioning the European family they would associate with; we know today that 5Stelle coalesces with the British UKIP, a far right party and hitherto considered xenophobic in the UK. Would 5Stelle’ supporters have chosen to vote this party if they knew the sequel and what the British thought of the UKIP? Undoubtedly, in casting their vote electors had in mind their home Country rather than the European Union!
I am aware that the scheme prospected above would suit well the federalists while it would be harshly rejected by the “sceptical”, here we come to the second lesson; the present Council presents a damaging dichotomy as it is split between Countries wishing to federate (the Euro-group) and those eager to stick to a Business Union, i.e. Great Britain, Norway, Denmark….. (I purposely avoided calling the latter a Trade-Union as this would include non-EU countries). Mr Cameron has wisely proposed that the Eurozone should have a separate budget from the whole Union; I have already proposed to go beyond, envisaging that the Eurozone should do well to have separate Chamber gatherings and possibly a dedicated Headquarters (Strasbourg?). This arrangement would consent speedy legislation in both assemblies and less bickering, besides, citizens would understand where they belong.
Prospective Commission President. The Constitution reads that the Council’s President, having given consideration (weight) to the ballot, will propose a name to the Parliament for election. Contrary to Mr Cameron argument alleging that not all have formally applied, the three leading candidates (Juncker, Verhofstadt and Schulz) have toured Europe (in person and on TV) to pronounce their agenda and shown their physical face to the voter; perhaps, one of a few events epitomizing the European nature of this election. Votes have been cast and we have a winner; heads of State are now divided about the right man for the job. Juncker, the winner, is considered too federalist while some countries, prone to a Business Union, would rather prefer a “less enthusiast euro-fan” and I would add, less known to the general public. Once more, the pressing concern for a Constitution’s amendment in favour of separate EU assemblies is great.Elio Pennisi