Procedure : 2009/2134(INL)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A7-0176/2011

Texts tabled :

A7-0176/2011

Debates :

PV 07/07/2011 - 4
CRE 07/07/2011 - 4

Votes :

PV 07/07/2011 - 7.8
CRE 07/07/2011 - 7.8
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :


REPORT     
PDF 527kWORD 561k
28 April 2011
PE 440.210v04-00 A7-0176/2011

on a proposal for a modification of the Act concerning the election of the Members of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage of 20 September 1976

(2009/2134(INI))

Committee on Constitutional Affairs

Rapporteur: Andrew Duff

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION
 ANNEX I - Consolidated version of the Act concerning the election of the representatives of the Assembly by direct universal suffrage annexed to the Council decision of 20 September 1976, and of the subsequent amendments thereto
 ANNEX II - Proposal for the amendment of the Treaties
 ANNEX III - Draft proposal for a Council decision adopting the provisions amending the Act concerning the election of the Members of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage of 20 September 1976
 Annex to the draft proposal for a Council Decision adopting the provisions amending the Act concerning the election of the Members of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage of 20 September 1976 The amendments in this document are based on a consolidation produced by the Legal Service of the European Parliament on the basis of the Act concerning the election of the representatives of the Assembly by direct universal suffrage (OJ L 278, 8.10.1976, p. 5), as amended by Decision 93/81/Euratom, ECSC, EEC amending the Act concerning the election of the representatives of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage, annexed to Council Decision 76/787/ECSC, EEC, Euratom of 20 September 1976 (OJ L 33, 9.2.1993, p. 15), and Council Decision 2002/772/EC, Euratom of 25 June 2002 and 23 September 2002 (OJ L 283, 21.10.2002, p. 1). This consolidation differs from the consolidated version produced by the Publications Office of the European Union (CONSLEG. 1976X1008-23/09/2002) in two respects: it incorporates an indent to Article 6(1) '– member of the Committee of the Regions' resulting from Article 5 of the Treaty of Amsterdam (OJ C 340, 10.11.1997) and is renumbered in accordance with Article 2(1) of Council Decision 2002/772/EC, Euratom.
 EXPLANATORY STATEMENT
 ANNEX I TO THE EXPLANATORY STATEMENT: Resolution on a draft electoral procedure incorporating common principles for the election of Members of the European Parliament (Anastassopoulos Report)(1)
 ANNEX II TO THE EXPLANATORY STATEMENT: Distribution of Seats (2009 - 2014)
 ANNEX III TO THE EXPLANATORY STATEMENT: European Parliament Voter Turnout (1979 - 2009)
 ANNEX IV TO THE EXPLANATORY STATEMENT: Gender Imbalance
 ANNEX V TO THE EXPLANATORY STATEMENT: European Parliament: Current Electoral Practice in Member States
 RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION

on a proposal for a modification of the Act concerning the election of the Members of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage of 20 September 1976

(2009/2134(INI))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Act concerning the election of the members of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage annexed to the Council decision of 20 September 1976, as amended(1), in particular Article 14 thereof,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on the electoral procedure of the Parliament, in particular its resolution of 15 July 1998(2),

–   having regard to its resolution of 11 October 2007 on the composition of the European Parliament(3),

–   having regard to the Presidency Conclusions of the European Council held on 14 December 2007,

–   having regard to its resolution of 6 May 2010 on the draft protocol amending Protocol (No 36) on transitional provisions concerning the composition of the European Parliament for the rest of the 2009-2014 parliamentary term: the European Parliament's opinion (Article 48(3) of the EU Treaty)(4),

–   having regard to Article 39 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

–   having regard to Articles 9, 10, 14(2) and 48(2), (3) and (4) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and to Articles 22, 223 and 225 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), and to Article 3 of Protocol (No 2) on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality,

–   having regard to Protocol (No 7) on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union,

–   having regard to the proposal of the Commission of 12 December 2006 (COM(2006)0791) for amending Directive 93/109/EC of 6 December 1993 as regards certain detailed arrangements for the exercise of the right to vote and stand as a candidate in elections to the European Parliament for citizens of the Union residing in a Member State of which they are not nationals,

–   having regard to Rules 41, 48(3) and 74a of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs (A7-0176/2011),

Whereas:

A. Parliament has the right to initiate the reform of its own electoral procedure, and to give its consent thereto,

B.  Parliament has the right to initiate a change in its own composition, and to give its consent thereto,

C. Parliament has the right to initiate a revision of the Treaties,

D. Parliament has been directly elected every five years since 1979 and has seen its powers and influence increase throughout this period, most notably as a result of the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon,

E.  the Lisbon Treaty changed the mandate of Members of the European Parliament, making them direct representatives of the Union's citizens(5),

F.  even without agreement on a uniform electoral procedure, there has been a gradual convergence of electoral systems over this period, notably with the universal adoption of proportional representation in 1999, the formal establishment of political parties at EU level(6) and the abolition of the dual mandate(7),

G. the concept of European Union citizenship, formally introduced into the constitutional order by the Treaty of Maastricht in 1993, included the right to participate under certain conditions in European and municipal elections in Member States other than one's own, and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which now has binding legal force under the terms of the Lisbon Treaty, has reinforced that right and other civic rights,

H. popular recognition of Parliament's democratic function remains limited, political parties at European level are still in the early stages of development, electoral campaigning remains more national than European, and media reporting of Parliament'proceedings is irregular,

I.   overall turnout in the elections to Parliament has fallen steadily from 63 per cent in 1979 to 43 per cent in 2009,

J.   the number of Union citizens resident in Member States other than their own who vote in elections to the European Parliament is low, and the number who stand for election is negligible; residency qualifications for the franchise vary among States, as does the time after which their own nationals resident elsewhere in the EU are deprived of the right to vote in their original home State; moreover, the exchange of information between Member States on nationals of other Member States who have been entered on electoral rolls or have stood as a candidate, is not efficient,

K. according to the case-law of the Court of Justice, while States enjoy substantial discretion in defining who can vote in European parliamentary elections, they are nevertheless bound to respect the general principles of Union law and are precluded from treating different categories of Union citizens who are in the same circumstances in a way that discriminates between them(8); likewise, while it is for each State to lay down its own conditions for the acquisition and loss of nationality, it must at the same time have regard to the status of citizenship of the Union(9),

L.  current proposals of the Commission to facilitate electoral participation by Union citizens resident in Member States other than their own are stalled in the Council(10),

M. across the 27 States the minimum age for eligibility to stand as a candidate now varies between 18 and 25, and for eligibility to vote between 16 and 18; it is important to encourage young people to participate in elections,

N. the number of women MEPs now stands at 35 per cent; efforts should be made to reduce further the gender imbalance in Parliament, especially in certain States,

O. there remain a number of other issues that could be reviewed in respect of the elections, including the question of thresholds, verification of the credentials of MEPs and the filling of vacancies,

P.  Parliament has urged the Council to bring forward the date of the election to May so that it can better organise itself to expedite the election of the new Commission President and avoid the beginning of the summer vacation in several States(11),

Q. Parliament is empowered and obliged by the Lisbon Treaty to initiate a decision to redistribute seats among States within the constraints of threshold, ceiling and overall size, while respecting the principle of degressive proportionality; Parliament has previously resolved to correct historical inequalities in seat distribution and to adapt its composition on a regular basis in order to reflect changes in the demography and membership of the Union(12); moreover, it considers it important to give expression in Parliament's composition to plurality between parties and solidarity among States,

R.  Parliament lacks an autonomous system for regulating the legal privileges and immunities of its Members; the Council has previously agreed to examine the request of Parliament to revise the 1965 Protocol on Privileges and Immunities once the Members' Statute had entered into force(13),

S.  in spite of the fact that the Council had previously agreed to keep the 1976 Act under review, the last formal review of electoral procedure by Parliament was initiated as long ago as 1998(14),

T.  Parliament's electoral procedure must uphold the practice of free, fair and secret elections, achieve overall proportionality of representation, and be durable and comprehensible,

U. Parliament's electoral system is a compromise between the democratic principle of equality (‘one man one vote’) and the international law principle of equality among states, and the TEU lays down the principle of the equality of Union citizens while forbidding discrimination on the grounds of nationality,

V. reform of the electoral procedure must also respect the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality and should not seek to impose uniformity for its own sake,

W. Parliament has previously resolved to study the possibility of electing some MEPs on transnational lists, considering that this would impart a genuine European dimension to the campaign, particularly by entrusting a central role to European political parties(15),

X. electoral equality must remain the overriding principle if transnational lists are introduced; the status of Members in Parliament should therefore remain equal regardless of whether they were elected from transnational or national lists,

Y. the TEU provides that ‘political parties at European level contribute to forming European political awareness and to expressing the will of citizens of the Union’(16), and to this end Parliament has called on the Commission, in its resolution of 6 April 2011 on the application of Regulation (EC) No 2004/2003 on the regulations governing political parties at European level and the rules regarding their funding(17), to initiate legislation for a common EU status for European political parties and foundations,

1.  Decides to reform its electoral procedure in good time before the 2014 elections with the aim of enhancing the legitimacy and efficacy of Parliament by strengthening the European democratic dimension and by providing for a fairer distribution of seats among the States in accordance with the Treaties;

2.  Proposes that an additional 25 MEPs be elected by a single constituency formed of the whole territory of the European Union; transnational lists would be composed of candidates drawn from at least one third of the States, and may ensure an adequate gender representation; each elector would be enabled to cast one vote for the EU-wide list in addition to their vote for the national or regional list: voting for the EU constituency would be in accordance with the closed list proportional system; and seats would be allocated without a minimum threshold in accordance with the D'Hondt method(18); further, proposes that an electoral authority be established at EU level in order to regulate the conduct and to verify the result of the election taking place from the EU-wide list;

3.  (i)  Determines that Parliament will initiate a proposal for a decision establishing the redistribution of the 751 seats among States, if justified objectively by figures established by Eurostat before every election; this decision should be adopted before the end of the fourth calendar year of the parliamentary term;

(ii) Proposes to enter into a dialogue with the European Council to explore the possibility of reaching agreement on a durable and transparent mathematical formula for the apportionment of seats in Parliament respecting the criteria laid down in the Treaties and the principles of plurality between political parties and solidarity among States;

4.  Calls on the Commission to bring forward a proposal for a regulation to improve the consistency and comparability of population data provided by the States;

5.  Determines to bring forward the timing of the European elections from June to May;

6.  Calls on States and political parties to promote the better representation of women and minority candidates; considers it important for the legitimacy of the Union that Parliament's composition reflects the diversity of Europe's peoples;

7.  Places equal emphasis on urging political parties to adhere to democratic principles in the selection of candidates;

8.  Calls on the Council, Commission and States to intensify efforts to help EU citizens resident in a State other than their own to participate in the European elections in their country of residence; in this context, requests the Commission to submit a new proposal for the revision of Council Directive 93/109/EC laying down detailed arrangements for the exercise of the right to vote and stand as a candidate in elections to the European Parliament for citizens of the Union residing in a Member State of which they are not nationals(19) and to suggest the abolition of the current information exchange system, whose function might be taken over by an electoral roll at EU level for the elections to Parliament;

9.  Reiterates its long-standing request that the 1965 Protocol on Privileges and Immunities be amended with a view to establishing a uniform supranational regime for Members of the European Parliament(20);

10. Submits to the Council for the amendment of the Treaties the amendments contained in Annex II;

11. Submits to the Council for the amendment of the Act concerning the election of the Members of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage the proposal contained in Annex III;

12. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the European Council, the Council, the Commission and the parliaments and governments of the Member States.

(1)

Council Decision 76/787/ECSC, EEC, Euratom (OJ L 278, 8.10.1976, p. 1) as amended by Council Decision 93/81/Euratom, ECSC, EEC (OJ L 33, 9.2.1993, p. 15) and by Council Decision 2002/772/EC, Euratom (OJ L 283, 21.10.2002, p. 1).

(2)

OJ C 292, 21.9.1998, p. 66.

(3)

OJ C 227 E, 4.9.2008, p. 132.

(4)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2010)0148.

(5)

Articles 10(2) and 14(2) TEU.

(6)

Regulation (EC) No 2004/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 November 2003 on the regulations governing political parties at European level and the rules regarding their funding (OJ L 297, 15.11.2003, p. 1).

(7)

Council Decision 2002/772/EC, Euratom, Article 1(7), point (b).

(8)

Case C-145/04 Spain v United Kingdom [2006] ECR I-7917 (concerning Gibraltar) and Case C-300/04 Eman and Sevinger v College van burgemeester en wethouders van Den Haag [2006] ECR I-8055 (concerning Aruba).

(9)

Case C-135/08 Rottmann v Freistaat Bayern: judgment of 2 March 2010 (OJ C 113, 1.5.2010, p. 4).

(10)

See Council Directive 93/109/EC of 6 December 1993 laying down detailed arrangements for the exercise of the right to vote and stand as a candidate in elections to the European Parliament for citizens of the Union residing in a Member State of which they are not nationals (OJ L 329, 30.12.1993, p. 34) and Parliament's resolution of 26 September 2007 on the proposal for a Council directive amending Directive 93/109/EC as regards certain detailed arrangements for the exercise of the right to vote and stand as a candidate in elections to the European Parliament for citizens of the Union residing in a Member State of which they are not nationals (OJ C 219 E, 28.8.2008, p. 193).

(11)

As proposed in Parliament's resolution of 1 December 2005 on guidelines for the approval of the Commission (OJ C 285 E, 22.11.2006, p. 137).

(12)

Resolution of 11 October 2007 on the composition of the European Parliament (OJ C 227 E, 4.9.2008, p. 132) (Lamassoure-Severin report).

(13)

Declaration of 3 June 2005 by Representatives of the Member States meeting within the Council.

(14)

Council Declaration 6151/02 of 22 February 2002 decided 'that the provisions of this Act should be reviewed before the second elections to the European Parliament held after the entry into force of the amendments to the 1976 Act which are the subject of this Decision' – that is, before 2009.

(15)

Most recently in its above-mentioned resolution of 11 October 2007 (Lamassoure-Severin report).

(16)

Article 10(4) TEU.

(17)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0144.

(18)

The Sainte-Laguë method uses divisors of 1, 3, 5, 7, etc, and was used in the 2009 European elections in Germany, Latvia and Sweden. It produces a slightly more proportional result than the D'Hondt method.

(19)

OJ L 329, 30.12.1993, p. 34.

(20)

European Parliament resolution of 6 July 2006 on modification of the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities (OJ C 303 E, 13.12.2006, p. 830), in which Parliament confirmed its intention to use the Members' Statute as a partial basis for the proposed revision (European Parliament decision of 3 June 2003 on the adoption of a Statute for Members of the European Parliament (OJ C 68 E, 18.3.2004, p. 115)).


ANNEX I - Consolidated version of the Act concerning the election of the representatives of the Assembly by direct universal suffrage annexed to the Council decision of 20 September 1976, and of the subsequent amendments thereto

ACT(1)

concerning the election of the members of the European Parliament

by direct universal suffrage

Article 1

1.      In each Member State, members of the European Parliament shall be elected on the basis of proportional representation, using the list system or the single transferable vote.

2.      Member States may authorise voting based on a preferential list system in accordance with the procedure they adopt.

3.      Elections shall be by direct universal suffrage and shall be free and secret.

Article 2

In accordance with its specific national situation, each Member State may establish constituencies for elections to the European Parliament or subdivide its electoral area in a different manner, without generally affecting the proportional nature of the voting system.

Article 3

Member States may set a minimum threshold for the allocation of seats. At national level this threshold may not exceed 5 per cent of votes cast.

Article 4

Each Member State may set a ceiling for candidates' campaign expenses.

Article 5

1.      The five-year term for which members of the European Parliament are elected shall begin at the opening of the first session following each election.

It may be extended or curtailed pursuant to the second subparagraph of Article 10 (2).

2.      The term of office of each member shall begin and end at the same time as the period referred to in paragraph 1.

Article 6

1.      Members of the European Parliament shall vote on an individual and personal basis. They shall not be bound by any instructions and shall not receive a binding mandate.

2.      Members of the European Parliament shall enjoy the privileges and immunities applicable to them by virtue of the Protocol of 8 April 1965 on the privileges and immunities of the European Communities.

Article 7

1.      The office of member of the European Parliament shall be incompatible with that of:

- member of the government of a Member State,

- member of the Commission of the European Communities,

- Judge, Advocate-General or Registrar of the Court of Justice of the European Communities or of the Court of First Instance,

- member of the Board of Directors of the European Central Bank,

- member of the Court of Auditors of the European Communities,

- Ombudsman of the European Communities,

- member of the Economic and Social Committee of the European Community and of the European Atomic Energy Community,

- member of the Committee of the Regions,

- member of committees or other bodies set up pursuant to the Treaties establishing the European Community and the European Atomic Energy Community for the purposes of managing the Communities' funds or carrying out a permanent direct administrative task,

- member of the Board of Directors, Management Committee or staff of the European Investment Bank,

- active official or servant of the institutions of the European Communities or of the specialised bodies attached to them or of the European Central Bank.

2.      From the European Parliament elections in 2004, the office of member of the European Parliament shall be incompatible with that of member of a national parliament.

By way of derogation from that rule and without prejudice to paragraph 3:

- members of the Irish National Parliament who are elected to the European Parliament at a subsequent poll may have a dual mandate until the next election to the Irish National Parliament, at which juncture the first subparagraph of this paragraph shall apply;

- members of the United Kingdom Parliament who are also members of the European Parliament during the five-year term preceding election to the European Parliament in 2004 may have a dual mandate until the 2009 European Parliament elections, when the first subparagraph of this paragraph shall apply.

3.      In addition, each Member State may, in the circumstances provided for in Article 8, extend rules at national level relating to incompatibility.

4.      Members of the European Parliament to whom paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 become applicable in the course of the five-year period referred to in Article 5 shall be replaced in accordance with Article 13.

Article 8

Subject to the provisions of this Act, the electoral procedure shall be governed in each Member State by its national provisions.

These national provisions, which may if appropriate take account of the specific situation in the Member States, shall not affect the essentially proportional nature of the voting system.

Article 9

No one may vote more than once in any election of members of the European Parliament.

Article 10

1.      Elections to the European Parliament shall be held on the date and at the times fixed by each Member State; for all Member States this date shall fall within the same period starting on a Thursday morning and ending on the following Sunday.

2.      Member States may not officially make public the results of their count until after the close of polling in the Member State whose electors are the last to vote within the period referred to in paragraph 1.

Article 11

1.      The Council, acting unanimously after consulting the European Parliament, shall determine the electoral period for the first elections.

2.      Subsequent elections shall take place in the corresponding period in the last year of the five-year period referred to in Article 5.

Should it prove impossible to hold the elections in the Community during that period, the Council acting unanimously shall, after consulting the European Parliament, determine, at least one month(2) before the end of the five-year term referred to in Article 5, another electoral period which shall not be more than two months before or one month after the period fixed pursuant to the preceding subparagraph.

3.      Without prejudice to Article 196 of the Treaty establishing the European Community and Article 109 of the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community, the European Parliament shall meet, without requiring to be convened, on the first Tuesday after expiry of an interval of one month from the end of the electoral period.

4.      The powers of the European Parliament shall cease upon the opening of the first sitting of the new European Parliament.

Article 12

The European Parliament shall verify the credentials of members of the European Parliament. For this purpose it shall take note of the results declared officially by the Member States and shall rule on any disputes which may arise out of the provisions of this Act other than those arising out of the national provisions to which the Act refers.

Article 13

1.      A seat shall fall vacant when the mandate of a member of the European Parliament ends as a result of resignation, death or withdrawal of the mandate.

2.      Subject to the other provisions of this Act, each Member State shall lay down appropriate procedures for filling any seat which falls vacant during the five-year term of office referred to in Article 5 for the remainder of that period.

3.      Where the law of a Member State makes explicit provision for the withdrawal of the mandate of a member of the European Parliament, that mandate shall end pursuant to those legal provisions. The competent national authorities shall inform the European Parliament thereof.

4.      Where a seat falls vacant as a result of resignation or death, the President of the European Parliament shall immediately inform the competent authorities of the Member State concerned thereof.

Article 14

Should it appear necessary to adopt measures to implement this Act, the Council, acting unanimously on a proposal from the European Parliament after consulting the Commission, shall adopt such measures after endeavouring to reach agreement with the European Parliament in a conciliation committee consisting of the Council and representatives of the European Parliament.

Article 15

This Act is drawn up in the Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Irish, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish languages, all the texts being equally authentic.

Annexes I and II shall form an integral part of this Act.

Article 16

The provisions of this Act shall enter into force on the first day of the month following that during which the last of the notifications referred to in the Decision is received.

Udfærdiget i Bruxelles, den tyvende september nitten hundrede og

seksoghalvfjerds.

Geschehen zu Brüssel am zwanzigsten September neunzehnhundert-

sechsundsiebzig.

Done at Brussels on the twentieth day of September in the year one

thousand nine hundred and seventy-six.

Fait à Bruxelles, le vingt septembre mil neuf cent soixante-seize.

Arna dhéanamh sa Bhruiséil, an fichiú lá de mhí Mhéan Fómhair, míle

naoi gcéad seachtó a sé.

Fatto a Bruxelles, addì venti settembre millenovecentosettantasei.

Gedaan te Brussel, de twintigste september negentienhonderd zesenze-

ventig.

ANNEX I

The United Kingdom will apply the provisions of this Act only in respect of the United Kingdom.

ANNEX II

Declaration on Article 14

As regards the procedure to be followed by the Conciliation Committee, it is agreed to have recourse to the provisions of paragraphs 5, 6 and 7 of the procedure laid down in the joint declaration of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission of 4 March 1975(3).

(1)

N.B.: This document is a consolidation produced by the Legal Service of the European Parliament on the basis of the Act concerning the election of the representatives of the Assembly by direct universal suffrage (OJ L 278, 8.10.1976, p. 5), as amended by Decision 93/81/Euratom, ECSC, EEC amending the Act concerning the election of the representatives of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage, annexed to Council Decision 76/787/ECSC, EEC, Euratom of 20 September 1976 (OJ L 33, 9.2.1993, p. 15), and Council Decision 2002/772/EC, Euratom of 25 June 2002 and 23 September 2002 (OJ L 283, 21.10.2002, p. 1). It differs from the consolidated version produced by the Publications Office of the European Union (CONSLEG. 1976X1008-23/09/2002) on two points: it incorporates an indent to Article 6(1) '– member of the Committee of the Regions' resulting from Article 5 of the Treaty of Amsterdam (OJ C 340, 10.11.1997) and is renumbered in accordance with Article 2(1) of Council Decision 2002/772/EC, Euratom.

(2)

In the versions of Decision 2002/772/EC, Euratom as published in the Official Journal, other than the English and Spanish versions, this period is stated to be one year.

(3)

OJ C 89, 22. 4. 1975, p. 1.


ANNEX II - Proposal for the amendment of the Treaties

TREATY ON EUROPEAN UNION

Amendment  A

Treaty on European Union

Article 14 – paragraph 2

Treaty on European Union

Amendment

2. The European Parliament shall be composed of representatives of the Union's citizens. They shall not exceed seven hundred and fifty in number, plus the President. Representation of citizens shall be degressively proportional, with a minimum threshold of six members per Member State. No Member State shall be allocated more than ninety-six seats.

2. The European Parliament shall be composed of representatives of the Union's citizens.

 

2a. Seven hundred and fifty one representatives shall be elected in the Member States. Representation of citizens shall be degressively proportional, with a minimum threshold of six members per Member State. No Member State shall be allocated more than ninety-six seats.

The European Council shall adopt by unanimity, on the initiative of the European Parliament and with its consent, a decision establishing the composition of the European Parliament, respecting the principles referred to in the first subparagraph.

The allocation of those seats among the States shall be reviewed regularly. Before the end of the fourth calendar year of the parliamentary term, the European Council shall adopt by unanimity, on the initiative of the European Parliament and with its consent, a decision on the allocation of seats during the following parliamentary term.

 

2b. In addition, twenty-five representatives shall be elected in a single constituency comprising the entire territory of the Union.

PROTOCOL (NO 7) ON THE PRIVILEGES AND IMMUNITIES OF THE EUROPEAN UNION

Amendment  B

Protocol on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union

Article 7

Protocol (No 7)

Amendment

No administrative or other restriction shall be imposed on the free movement of Members of the European Parliament travelling to or from the place of meeting of the European Parliament.

Members of the European Parliament shall enjoy freedom of movement throughout the European Union.

Members of the European Parliament shall, in respect of customs and exchange control, be accorded:

That right may not be restricted by law or by order of a public authority or court.

(a) by their own government, the same facilities as those accorded to senior officials travelling abroad on temporary official missions;

 

(b) by the government of other Member States, the same facilities as those accorded to representatives of foreign governments on temporary official missions.

 

Amendment  C

Protocol on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union

Article 8

Protocol (No 7)

Amendment

Members of the European Parliament shall not be subject to any form of inquiry, detention or legal proceedings in respect of opinions expressed or votes cast by them in the performance of their duties.

Members of the European Parliament shall at no time be subject to any form of inquiry, detention or legal proceedings in respect of any action taken, vote cast or statement made in the exercise of their mandate.

 

The European Parliament shall decide, on an application from a Member, whether an action was taken or a statement was made in the exercise of his/her mandate.

 

The European Parliament shall lay down provisions for the implementation of this Article in its Rules of Procedure.

Amendment  D

Protocol on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union

Article 9

Protocol (No 7)

Amendment

During the sessions of the European Parliament, its Members shall enjoy:

1. Any restriction of a Member’s personal freedom shall be permitted only with the consent of the European Parliament, except where he/she is caught in the act of committing an offence.

(a) in the territory of their own State, the immunities accorded to members of their parliament;

2. The seizure of a Member’s documents or electronic records or the searching of his/her person, office or place of residence or interception of his/her mail or telephone calls may be ordered only with the consent of the European Parliament.

(b) in the territory of any other Member State, immunity from any measure of detention and from legal proceedings.

3. A Member shall be entitled to decline to give evidence about information which that Member has obtained in the exercise of his/her mandate or about persons from or to whom he/she has obtained or given such information.

Immunity shall likewise apply to Members while they are travelling to and from the place of meeting of the European Parliament.

4. Investigations or criminal proceedings against a Member shall be suspended at the request of the European Parliament.

Immunity cannot be claimed when a Member is found in the act of committing an offence and shall not prevent the European Parliament from exercising its right to waive the immunity of one of its Members.

5. Consent pursuant to paragraph 2 may be applied for only by the authorities competent under national law.

 

6. Consent pursuant to paragraph 2, or suspension pursuant to paragraph 4, may be granted conditionally, for a limited period or on a restricted basis.


ANNEX III - Draft proposal for a Council decision adopting the provisions amending the Act concerning the election of the Members of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage of 20 September 1976

THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION,

Having regard to of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and in particular Article 223 thereof,

Having regard to the proposal from the European Parliament,

Having regard to the consent of the European Parliament,

Whereas:

(1)  The Treaty provisions concerning the electoral procedure should be implemented,

HAS ADOPTED the provisions annexed to this decision and recommends that they be approved by the Member States in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements.

This decision and the provisions hereunto annexed shall be published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

The Member States shall without delay notify the Secretary-General of the Council that they have carried out the procedures required under their respective constitutional rules for approval of the provisions annexed to this decision.

The amendments shall take effect on the first day of the month following the approval of the provisions of this Decision by the Member States, in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements.


Annex to the draft proposal for a Council Decision adopting the provisions amending the Act concerning the election of the Members of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage of 20 September 1976(1)

Amendment  1

1976 Elections Act

Article 1 – paragraph 1

1976 Elections Act

Amendment

1. In each Member State, members of the European Parliament shall be elected on the basis of proportional representation, using the list system or the single transferable vote.

1. Members of the European Parliament shall be elected as representatives of the citizens of the Union on the basis of proportional representation, using the list system or the single transferable vote.

Amendment  2

1976 Elections Act

Article 2 a (new)

1976 Elections Act

Amendment

 

Article 2a

 

1. For the purpose of allocating seats among Member States in accordance with the principle of degressive proportionality pursuant to Article 14(2a) of the Treaty on European Union, the ratio between the population and the number of seats of each State before rounding to whole numbers shall vary in relation to their respective populations in such a way that each Member elected in a more populous State represents more citizens than each Member elected in a less populous State and also, conversely, that there are fewer Members elected in a less populous State than in a more populous State.

 

2. Where a State accedes to the Union during a parliamentary term, it shall be allocated seats which will be added to the number of seats provided for in Article 14(2a) and (2b) of the Treaty on European Union on a transitional basis for the remainder of that parliamentary term.

Amendment  3

1976 Elections Act

Article 2 b (new)

1976 Elections Act

Amendment

 

Article 2b

 

1. Pursuant to Article 14(2b) of the Treaty on European Union, there shall be one additional constituency formed of the entire territory of the Union from which shall be elected twenty-five Members.

 

2. The European Parliament and the Council, acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, shall establish an electoral authority to conduct and verify the electoral process of the European Union constituency.

 

3. Transnational lists of candidates for election in the European Union constituency submitted by the European political parties shall be admissible only:

 

(a) if composed of candidates resident in at least one third of the States, and

 

(b) if balanced by gender.

 

4. Each elector shall have one supplementary vote that may be cast for the European Union-wide list. Seats shall be allocated in accordance with the Sainte-Laguë method.

 

5. Detailed arrangements for the European Union constituency election shall be laid down in implementing measures to be adopted in accordance with Article 14.

Amendment  4

1976 Elections Act

Article 3

1976 Elections Act

Amendment

Member States may set a minimum threshold for the allocation of seats. At national level this threshold may not exceed 5 per cent of votes cast.

1. Member States may set a minimum threshold for the allocation of seats. At national level this threshold may not exceed 5 per cent of votes cast.

 

2. There shall be no minimum threshold for the allocation of seats from the European Union constituency.

Amendment  5

1976 Elections Act

Article 4

1976 Elections Act

Amendment

Each Member State may set a ceiling for candidates' campaign expenses.

Each Member State may set a ceiling for the campaign expenses of candidates and political parties at the national and/or regional level. The electoral authority shall set a ceiling for the campaign expenses of candidates and political parties at the European Union level.

Amendment  6

1976 Elections Act

Article 5 – paragraph 1 – subparagraph 2

1976 Elections Act

Amendment

It may be extended or curtailed pursuant to the second subparagraph of Article 10(2).

It may be extended or curtailed pursuant to the second subparagraph of Article 11(2).

Amendment  7

1976 Elections Act

Article 6 - paragraph 2

1976 Elections Act

Amendment

 

 

2. Members of the European Parliament shall enjoy the privileges and immunities applicable to them by virtue of the Protocol of 8 April 1965 on the privileges and immunities of the European Communities.

2. Members of the European Parliament shall have the rights and obligations laid down in the Members' Statute and the Protocol on the privileges and immunities of the European Union.

Amendment  8

1976 Elections Act

Article 7 – paragraph 1 – indent 1 a (new)

1976 Elections Act

Amendment

 

– member of a national or regional parliament with legislative powers,

Amendment  9

1976 Elections Act

Article 7 – paragraph 2

1976 Elections Act

Amendment

2. From the European Parliament elections in 2004, the office of member of the European Parliament shall be incompatible with that of member of a national parliament.

deleted

By way of derogation from that rule and without prejudice to paragraph 3:

 

– members of the Irish National Parliament who are elected to the European Parliament at a subsequent poll may have a dual mandate until the next election to the Irish National Parliament, at which juncture the first subparagraph of this paragraph shall apply;

 

– members of the United Kingdom Parliament who are also members of the European Parliament during the five-year term preceding election to the European Parliament in 2004 may have a dual mandate until the 2009 European Parliament elections, when the first subparagraph of this paragraph shall apply.

 

Amendment  10

1976 Elections Act

Article 7 – paragraph 4

1976 Elections Act

Amendment

4. Members of the European Parliament to whom paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 become applicable in the course of the five-year period referred to in Article 5 shall be replaced in accordance with Article 13.

4. Members of the European Parliament to whom paragraphs 1 or 3 become applicable in the course of the five-year period referred to in Article 5 shall be replaced in accordance with Articles 13a and 13b.

Amendment  11

1976 Elections Act

Article 9

1976 Elections Act

Amendment

No one may vote more than once in any election of members of the European Parliament.

Without prejudice to Article 2b, no one may vote more than once in any election of members of the European Parliament. In order to ensure that this principle is respected, the European Parliament and the Council, acting by means of a regulation in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, shall establish an electoral roll at European Union level.

Amendment  12

1976 Elections Act

Article 11 – paragraph 1

1976 Elections Act

Amendment

1. The Council, acting unanimously after consulting the European Parliament, shall determine the electoral period for the first elections.

1. The European Parliament and the Council shall determine the electoral period at least two years before the end of the five year parliamentary term in accordance with Article 14.

Amendment  13

1976 Elections Act

Article 11 – paragraph 2

1976 Elections Act

Amendment

2. Subsequent elections shall take place in the corresponding period in the last year of the five-year period referred to in Article 5.

deleted

Should it prove impossible to hold the elections in the Community during that period, the Council acting unanimously shall, after consulting the European Parliament, determine, at least one month(2) before the end of the five-year term referred to in Article 5, another electoral period which shall not be more than two months before or one month after the period fixed pursuant to the preceding subparagraph.

 

Amendment  14

1976 Elections Act

Article 11 – paragraph 3

1976 Elections Act

Amendment

3. Without prejudice to Article 196 of the Treaty establishing the European Community and Article 109 of the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community, the European Parliament shall meet, without requiring to be convened, on the first Tuesday after expiry of an interval of one month from the end of the electoral period.

3. Without prejudice to Article 229 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the European Parliament shall meet, without requiring to be convened, on the first Tuesday after expiry of an interval of one month from the end of the electoral period.

Amendment  15

1976 Elections Act

Article 12

1976 Elections Act

Amendment

The European Parliament shall verify the credentials of members of the European Parliament. For this purpose it shall take note of the results declared officially by the Member States and shall rule on any disputes which may arise out of the provisions of this Act other than those arising out of the national provisions to which the Act refers.

The European Parliament shall verify the credentials of the Members of Parliament on the basis of the results declared officially by the electoral authority referred to in Article 2b(2) and the Member States.

Amendment  16

1976 Elections Act

Article 13

1976 Elections Act

Amendment

1. A seat shall fall vacant when the mandate of a member of the European Parliament ends as a result of resignation, death or withdrawal of the mandate.

A seat shall fall vacant when the mandate of a Member of the European Parliament ends as a result of resignation, death or withdrawal of the mandate.

2. Subject to the other provisions of this Act, each Member State shall lay down appropriate procedures for filling any seat which falls vacant during the five-year term of office referred to in Article 5 for the remainder of that period.

 

3. Where the law of a Member State makes explicit provision for the withdrawal of the mandate of a member of the European Parliament, that mandate shall end pursuant to those legal provisions. The competent national authorities shall inform the European Parliament thereof.

 

4. Where a seat falls vacant as a result of resignation or death, the President of the European Parliament shall immediately inform the competent authorities of the Member State concerned thereof.

 

Amendment  17

1976 Elections Act

Article 13 a (new)

1976 Elections Act

Amendment

Article 13a

 

1. In the case of the Members elected in the Member States, and subject to the other provisions of this Act, each State shall lay down appropriate procedures for filling any seat which falls vacant during the five-year term of office referred to in Article 5 for the remainder of that period.

 

2. Where the law of a Member State provides for a temporary replacement of a member of its national parliament on maternity leave, that State may decide that such provisions are to apply mutatis mutandis to the Members of the European Parliament elected in that State.

 

3. Where the law of a Member State makes explicit provision for the withdrawal of the mandate of a Member of the European Parliament elected in that Member State, that mandate shall end pursuant to those legal provisions. Such legal provisions shall not be adopted with retroactive effect. The competent national authorities shall inform the European Parliament thereof.

 

4. Where a seat of a Member elected in the Member States falls vacant as a result of resignation or death, the President of the European Parliament shall immediately inform the competent authorities of the Member State concerned thereof.

(This Amendment partly reproduces the wording of paragraphs 2, 3 and 4 of Article 13 of the 1976 Elections Act. See amendment to Article 13.)

Amendment  18

1976 Elections Act

Article 13 b (new)

1976 Elections Act

Amendment

Article 13b

 

1. In the case of the Members elected for the European Union constituency, and subject to the other provisions of this Act, appropriate procedures for the filling of any vacancy for the remainder of the five-year term of office referred to in Article 5 shall be laid down in implementing measures to be adopted in accordance with Article 14.

 

2. Where the law of the Union makes explicit provision for the withdrawal of the mandate of a Member of the European Parliament elected on the European Union-wide list, that mandate shall end pursuant to those legal provisions. The electoral authority shall inform the European Parliament thereof.

 

3. Where a seat of a Member elected for the European Union constituency falls vacant as a result of resignation or death, the President of the European Parliament shall immediately inform the electoral authority thereof.

Amendment  19

1976 Elections Act

Article 13 c (new)

1976 Elections Act

Amendment

Article 13c

 

The European Parliament shall rule on any disputes which may arise out of the provisions of this Act and which involve the law of the Union.

Amendment  20

1976 Elections Act

Article 14

1976 Elections Act

Amendment

Should it appear necessary to adopt measures to implement this Act, the Council, acting unanimously on a proposal from the European Parliament after consulting the Commission, shall adopt such measures after endeavouring to reach agreement with the European Parliament in a conciliation committee consisting of the Council and representatives of the European Parliament.

Measures to implement this Act shall be adopted by the Council, acting by qualified majority, after consulting the Commission, on a proposal from the European Parliament, acting by a majority of its component Members, and with its consent.

Amendment  21

1976 Elections Act

Article 15 – paragraph 2

1976 Elections Act

Amendment

Annexes I and II shall form an integral part of this Act.

deleted

Amendment  22

1976 Elections Act

Article 15 – paragraph 2a (new)

1976 Elections Act

Amendment

Pursuant to the Accession Treaties, the Bulgarian, Czech, Estonian, , Latvian, Lithuanian, Hungarian, Maltese, Polish, Romanian, Slovak and Slovenian versions of this Act shall also be authentic.

Amendment  23

1976 Elections Act

ANNEX I

1976 Elections Act

Amendment

ANNEX I

deleted

The United Kingdom will apply the provisions of this Act only in respect of the United Kingdom.

 

Amendment  24

1976 Elections Act

Annex II

1976 Elections Act

Amendment

ANNEX II

deleted

Declaration on Article 14

 

As regards the procedure to be followed by the Conciliation Committee, it is agreed to have recourse to the provisions of paragraphs 5, 6 and 7 of the procedure laid down in the joint declaration of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission of 4 March 1975.

 

 

(1)

The amendments in this document are based on a consolidation produced by the Legal Service of the European Parliament on the basis of the Act concerning the election of the representatives of the Assembly by direct universal suffrage (OJ L 278, 8.10.1976, p. 5), as amended by Decision 93/81/Euratom, ECSC, EEC amending the Act concerning the election of the representatives of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage, annexed to Council Decision 76/787/ECSC, EEC, Euratom of 20 September 1976 (OJ L 33, 9.2.1993, p. 15), and Council Decision 2002/772/EC, Euratom of 25 June 2002 and 23 September 2002 (OJ L 283, 21.10.2002, p. 1). This consolidation differs from the consolidated version produced by the Publications Office of the European Union (CONSLEG. 1976X1008-23/09/2002) in two respects: it incorporates an indent to Article 6(1) '– member of the Committee of the Regions' resulting from Article 5 of the Treaty of Amsterdam (OJ C 340, 10.11.1997) and is renumbered in accordance with Article 2(1) of Council Decision 2002/772/EC, Euratom.

(2)

In the versions of Decision 2002/772/EC, Euratom as published in the Official Journal, other than the English and Spanish versions, this period is stated to be one year.


EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

THE ELECTORAL REFORM OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

Andrew Duff MEP

Origins

A European Parliament directly elected by universal suffrage is a key feature of the constitutional order of the European Union. As long ago as 1951, Article 20 of the Treaty of Paris on the European Coal and Steel Community provided for an Assembly consisting of ‘representatives of the peoples of the States brought together in the Community’. Article 21(3) said:

The Assembly shall draw up proposals for elections by direct universal suffrage in accordance with a uniform procedure in all Member States.

The Council shall, acting unanimously, lay down the appropriate provisions, which it shall recommend to Member States for adoption in accordance with their constitutional requirements.

This same provision was adopted by Article 138(3) of the Treaty of Rome (1957) which established the European Economic Community.(1)

The Common Assembly of the ECSC urged implementation of the provision as early as 1954.(2) In 1960 the European Parliamentary Assembly drafted a Convention on the introduction of direct elections which it submitted to the Council for consideration.(3) No progress was made on the matter, however, until the summit meeting at The Hague in December 1969 re-established the item on the Council’s agenda. The Vedel Report (1972), mandated by the European Commission, recommended early implementation of the Treaty provision with respect to direct elections.(4) Vedel suggested that the term ‘uniform electoral procedure’ should not necessarily be taken to mean that complete uniformity of electoral system had to be achieved at one step: the Parliament could move towards a single electoral law once it had won extra legitimacy on the strength of its first direct election.

In December 1974, meeting in Paris under the chairmanship of Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, the heads of government took the decision in principle to proceed with direct elections ‘as soon as possible … at any time in or after 1978’.(5) This complemented their decision to transform their own ad hoc summit meetings into the formal European Council - and may even have been a quid pro quo.

The European Parliament had already set to work to revisit its draft Convention of 1960. The Patijn Report proposed a directly elected Parliament with a five year mandate.(6) National electoral systems would apply in the first instance but for a transitional period only, pending the introduction of a more uniform electoral system, presumed to be ready in time for the second elections. Polling would take place across the Community within the same three days. Dual parliamentary mandates would be permitted but not encouraged. A list was agreed of the offices at EC level deemed incompatible with a European Parliamentary mandate. 355 seats (for the then nine States) would be distributed on a proportional basis, as follows: Germany 71, UK 67, Italy 66, France 65, Netherlands 27, Belgium 23, Denmark 17, Ireland 13, Luxembourg 6. The privileges and immunities of directly-elected MEPs would be those of their national equivalents. National discretion would also apply with respect to the eligible age of electors and candidates, the filling of vacancies, the rules for political parties, and MEPs’ terms and conditions. Pending the entry into force of the uniform electoral procedure, Parliament would rule on the verification of the credentials of Members.

The Patijn Report proved to be sufficiently pragmatic for Member States to take it as the basis for negotiation in the Council. The big stumbling block to an agreement continued to be the British government’s refusal to adopt an electoral system of a proportional type whereby seats won in the European Parliament would broadly match the votes cast in the ballot box. Although the lack of a uniform electoral procedure was the cause of great frustration at the time, in retrospect Parliament was surely right to concentrate on getting direct elections introduced in the first place and to postpone the perfection of the system until later.

Direct elections at last

On 20 September 1976 the Council reached agreement on an Act concerning the election of the representatives of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage. The Act, which has the status of primary law and which required ratification by each Member State, was annexed to a Decision.(7)

The Council established a chamber of 410 deputies (for the then nine States), with the four largest States enjoying an equal number of seats. While the objective of a future uniform electoral procedure was repeated, no timetable was set for its accomplishment. Voting was to take place between Thursday and Sunday. Pending the emergence of a uniform electoral procedure, the verification by Parliament of the credentials of those elected would take note of the official results declared in and by each Member State. A conciliation procedure was established with the Parliament to iron out the details.(8) After a certain delay, the first elections to the European Parliament took place in June 1979.

The newly elected Parliament soon addressed the matter of turning the 1976 Act into a uniform electoral procedure. The drafting of the Seitlinger Report focussed on the issue of extending proportional representation.(9) It proposed multi-member constituencies of between three and fifteen MEPs, with seats allocated by the D’Hondt system, and allowed for the possibility of preferential voting for individual candidates within lists. It noted that there could be deviation from the norm on the grounds of ‘special geographical or ethnic factors’. Seitlinger also sought to insist that nationals of one Member State resident in another for more than five years should be given the right to vote in their country of residence. It was proposed that polling be reduced to two days (Sunday and Monday). However, in view of the general political situation in the Community, coupled with continuing British refusal to abandon its simple majority system in single member constituencies, no progress was possible in the Council.

A similar fate awaited Reinhold Bocklet, appointed rapporteur on the matter in the next mandate, 1984-89. His efforts foundered on the obstacle of the British. Ingenuity was not able to marry proportional and non-proportional electoral systems within a framework which could credibly be called ‘uniform’ and which, at the same time, would induce a consensus within either Parliament or Council.

The fall of the Berlin Wall and the integration of East Germany into the Community necessitated a review of the number of German deputies in the European Parliament. After the 1989 elections (in the then 12 states), Karel De Gucht was appointed rapporteur on the dossier. He successfully produced two ‘interim reports’ which pushed things along. In the first, De Gucht repeated Parliament’s earlier proposal for the use of D’Hondt.(10) Concerned about declining turnout in 1984 and 1989, he introduced to the debate the question of how the campaign for the European Parliamentary elections should be run and financed. In his second report, De Gucht proposed that the unified Germany’s number of seats should rise to 99, leaving France, Italy and the UK with 87 each.(11) Finally, De Gucht proposed a top-up system whereby two-thirds of the British seats could be elected by simple majority in single member constituencies, but the remaining third would be distributed proportionately to the total vote of each party.

Nevertheless, despite the efforts of Parliament, it was the election of a Labour government in the UK in May 1997, assisted on this matter by the Liberal Democrats, which finally broke the logjam over the electoral system. For the 1999 elections a closed list system of regional proportional representation was introduced to Great Britain.(12) Similar reforms were made in France in time for the 2004 elections.

Helpful Treaty change

Meanwhile, the Treaty of Maastricht (1992) made some bold advances in the area of European Union citizenship. Article 8b(2) laid down that:

… [E]very citizen of the Union residing in a Member State of which he is not a national shall have the right to vote and to stand as a candidate in elections to the European Parliament in the Member State in which he resides, under the same conditions as nationals of that State. This right shall be exercised subject to detailed arrangements adopted by the Council, acting unanimously on a proposal from the Commission and after consulting the European Parliament; these arrangements may provide for derogations where warranted by problems specific to a Member State.(13)

Helpfully, this provided a legal base for measures to stimulate transnational electoral politics and increase civic participation.

At the same time, the Treaty of Maastricht amended Article 138 to give to the Parliament the right of assent to the Council’s proposal for a uniform electoral procedure. It also introduced a new Article 138a which establishes that:

Political parties at European level are important as a factor for integration within the Union. They contribute to forming a European awareness and to expressing the political will of the citizens of the Union.

Tony Blair’s victory in May 1997 had a beneficial effect on the closing stages of the Intergovernmental Conference which led up to the signing of the Treaty of Amsterdam. First, the new Treaty capped the size of the Parliament at 700 – with 99 for Germany and 87 each for France, Italy and the United Kingdom.(14) It then added a new, cryptic clause, as follows:

In the event of amendments to this paragraph, the number of representatives elected in each Member State must ensure appropriate representation of the peoples of the States brought together in the Community.

Third, the Amsterdam Treaty inserted a new sub-paragraph establishing that the term of office of the Parliament is five years.(15) Fourth, the new Treaty amended Article 190(4) (formerly Article 138(3)), as follows:

The European Parliament shall draw up a proposal for elections by direct universal suffrage in accordance with a uniform electoral procedure in all Member States or in accordance with principles common to all Member States.(16)

This revision reflected the more pragmatic approach of the Parliament as articulated in the De Gucht Report. In particular, the change would allow the Irish to continue to use the Single Transferable Vote (STV) instead of a largest average list system.

Lastly, a new Article 190(5) was usefully added by the Treaty of Amsterdam:

The European Parliament shall, after seeking an opinion from the Commission and with the approval of the Council acting unanimously, lay down the regulations and general conditions governing the performance of the duties of its Members.

The Anastassopoulos Report

Immediately after the signing of the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1997, the Committee on Institutional Affairs appointed Parliamentary Vice-President Georgios Anastassopoulos as its rapporteur on the electoral procedure. His task was to see whether a new proposal could be agreed on the basis of the revised Article 190(4), that is, whether ‘principles common to all Member States’ offered a better basis for uniformity than ‘a uniform electoral procedure in all Member States’.

Anastassopoulos found a ‘very broad consensus’ among States on a number of common principles, including, not least, proportional representation. He dropped the idea of trying to craft territorial constituencies in a uniform manner, but insisted on their creation in States with more than 20 million inhabitants. Notably, he raised the question of whether a portion of seats – he proposed ten per cent - could be distributed proportionately from transnational (gender balanced) lists as from the 2009 elections. National thresholds should remain optional. Preferential voting should be encouraged as a stimulus to turnout. Dual parliamentary mandates would be banned. He proposed bringing the elections forward from June to May (in order to avoid summer holidays in Northern states), and to truncate the time for polling itself to two days maximum. The far-reaching Anastassopoulos Report was adopted by Parliament on 15 July 1998 by 355 votes to 146 with 39 abstentions.(17)

In 2002 the Council modified the 1976 Act in order to codify the introduction everywhere of proportional representation, to allow explicitly STV and preferential voting, to cater for territorial constituencies, to fix a maximum threshold of 5 per cent, to phase out the dual mandate, and to let national law apply to the withdrawal of mandates and the filling of vacancies.(18) The bolder proposals of the Parliament's Anastassopoulos Report were not adopted by the Council.(19)

Nice, Laeken and the Convention

Parliament was unsuccessful in raising the matter of its electoral procedure at the Nice Intergovernmental Conference. Instead, the closing stages of the IGC in December 2000 were marked by the bruising row over the redistribution of seats in the Parliament. In the end, the size of the House for 2004-09 (for the then twenty-five States) was to grow to 732 seats: Germany retained 99, France, Italy and the UK maintained parity on 78, and Spain and Poland had 54 each. (Later, upon the accession of Bulgaria and Romania, it was agreed that from 2009 there would be 736 seats: again Germany was to retain 99, France, Italy and the UK were to fall to 72 each, Spain and Poland to 50.)

The Treaty of Nice modified Article 190(5), as follows:

The European Parliament shall, after seeking an opinion from the Commission and with the approval of the Council acting by a qualified majority, lay down the regulations and general conditions governing the performance of the duties of its Members. All rules or conditions relating to the taxation of Members or former Members shall require unanimity within the Council.(20)

An amendment was made to Article 191 to create a legal base for the creation of a statute for European political parties. The Council was empowered to lay down regulations governing European parties and particularly their financing, in co-decision with the Parliament.

On the road to recovery from the disappointment of the Nice Treaty, the Laeken Declaration, in December 2001, posed various pertinent questions about the future role of the European Parliament. ‘Should the role of the European Parliament be strengthened? Should we extend the right of codecision or not? Should the way in which we elect the members of the European Parliament be reviewed? Should a European electoral constituency be created, or should constituencies continue to be determined nationally? Can the two systems be combined?’ When the constitutional Convention discussed these questions, however, it must be admitted that the electoral system was of a lower order of priority to those of the powers of the Parliament and its place in the inter-institutional balance.(21)

The Convention proposed, sensibly enough, that the electoral system should be subject to a law or framework law of the Council, acting unanimously on a proposal from and with the consent of the Parliament.(22) As far as the shape of the Parliament was concerned, the Convention proposed that the European Council should take a decision, by unanimity, on a proposal from and with the consent of Parliament. The size was capped at 736. ‘Representation of European citizens shall be degressively proportional, with a minimum threshold of four members per Member State.’(23) Furthermore, the Charter of Fundamental Rights was to become mandatory, Article 39 of which set out the right of every citizen to vote or stand in the European Parliamentary elections in the Member State in which he or she resided, under the same conditions as nationals of that State.

The IGC of 2003-04 which followed up the work of the Convention made no change in the procedures but adapted the relevant clause (Article I-20(2)) to read as follows:

The European Parliament shall be composed of representatives of the Union’s citizens. They shall not exceed 750 in number. Representation of citizens shall be degressively proportional, with a minimum threshold of six members per Member State. No Member State shall be allocated more than 96 seats.

This was rather similar to a proposal made by Germany at the time of Maastricht, but at that stage rejected. It has been suggested that the significance of the change of the historic wording – from ‘representatives … of the peoples of the States brought together in the Community’ to ‘representatives of the Union’s citizens’ - was lost on some observers. Although the term 'peoples' is not thought to have any precise legal meaning in the current Treaty, the change to 'citizens' was not accidental: indeed, the elevation of the EU citizen was accentuated elsewhere in the constitutional treaty.(24) And representatives of the Parliament in the Convention and at the subsequent IGCs were hopeful that the change would encourage the further development of transnational politics, leading to a more popular recognition of the post-national political space.

The Treaty of Lisbon

The recent story of the ‘period of reflection’ and the negotiation of the Treaty of Lisbon is more familiar. At the Intergovernmental Conference, Parliament chose neither to press the case for a uniform electoral procedure nor, as had at one time been mooted, for a reform of the privileges and immunities regime.

Away from the constitutional negotiations, there was significant progress. The first statute for European political parties was delivered in 2003, extended to party political foundations in 2007.(25) Likewise, the Statute for Members of the European Parliament was at last agreed in 2005.(26)

While the matter of the electoral procedure was not raised during the Lisbon renegotiation of the constitutional treaty, an intense controversy broke out concerning the proposal to redistribute seats for the Parliament to be elected in 2009. Parliament fulfilled the request of the European Council of June 2007 to make a proposal for the redistribution of seats. Parliament succeeded, in the Lamassoure-Severin Report (2007), in convincingly defining how the principle of degressive proportionality should be applied in practice, thus: ‘the ratio between the population and the number of seats of each Member State must vary in relation to their respective populations in such a way that each Member from a more populous Member State represents more citizens than each Member from a less populous Member State and conversely, but also that no less populous Member State has more seats than a more populous Member State’.(27)

However, one State, Italy, objected to the proposal, consequent on the above, to give it 72 seats compared with the UK (73) and France (74). In the last minutes of the IGC a compromise was reached which raised the size of the Parliament to 751 - that is, 750 plus its President – and the extra seat was given to Italy. Unfortunately, however, this arrangement breached the strict application of the principle of degressive proportionality (as defined by Parliament), because an Italian MEP represents fewer people than a Spanish colleague, despite the fact that Spain is less populous than Italy.(28) Notwithstanding this lapse from purity, the Lamassoure-Severin definition of degressive proportionality has been accepted, at least in theory, by both Parliament and Council.

In any case, after the little drama over parliamentary seats, the Treaty of Lisbon was finally signed on 13 December 2007 and entered into force, eleven months late, on 1 December 2009.

Article 14 of the new Treaty on European Union, as revised by Lisbon, reads as follows.(29)

1. The European Parliament shall, jointly with the Council, exercise legislative and budgetary functions. It shall exercise functions of political control and consultation as laid down in the Treaties. It shall elect the President of the Commission.

2. The European Parliament shall be composed of representatives of the Union’s citizens. They shall not exceed 750 in number, plus the President. Representation of citizens shall be degressively proportional, with a minimum threshold of six members per Member State. No Member State shall be allocated more than 96 seats.

The European Council shall adopt by unanimity, on the initiative of the European Parliament and with its consent, a decision establishing the composition of the European Parliament, respecting the principles referred to in the first subparagraph.

3. The members of the European Parliament shall be elected for a term of five years by direct universal suffrage in a free and secret ballot.

4. The European Parliament shall elect its President and its officers from among its members.

Article 223 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union reads as follows:

1. The European Parliament shall draw up a proposal to lay down the provisions necessary for the election of its members by direct universal suffrage in accordance with a uniform procedure in all Member States or in accordance with principles common to all Member States.

The Council, acting unanimously in accordance with a special legislative procedure and after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament, which shall act by a majority of its component members, shall lay down the necessary provisions. These provisions shall enter into force following their approval by the Member States in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements.

2. The European Parliament, acting by means of regulations on its own initiative in accordance with a special legislative procedure, after seeking an opinion from the Commission and with the approval of the Council acting by a qualified majority, shall lay down the regulations and general conditions governing the performance of the duties of its Members. All rules or conditions relating to the taxation of Members or former Members shall require unanimity within the Council.

In parallel with the long negotiations on treaty revision, the EU made substantial progress in establishing the basic conditions for the uniform election of the European Parliament in spite of the absence of a single electoral law. Of the problems encountered by previous rapporteurs on this dossier, several have already been dispensed with satisfactorily, notably:

· a form of proportional representation has been established in all States;

· the dual mandate is abolished;

· European political parties and foundations have been established and financed;

· terms and conditions of MEPs are harmonised.

There is another category of issues that might have seemed problematical at the outset of the exercise to introduce direct elections but, with the benefit of experience, no longer do so - such as the eligibility of independent candidates and control of election expenses. Here no problems seem to have arisen by the mere application of national discretion and electoral practice.

Notwithstanding the progress made so far, this Report is asked to address the revision of the 1976 Act on direct elections to the European Parliament. And twelve years after Parliament last visited the dossier with the Anastassopoulos Report, and a good four years before any practicable reform of the electoral procedure would be brought into force (in 2014), this indeed seems a good time to initiate further reforms.

Parliament's importance and powers have grown substantially since 1979. This has not been mirrored by the rather limited revisions to the 1976 Act since then. Now the Treaty of Lisbon has at last entered into force, MEPs have become much more powerful. Parliament both needs and deserves an electoral system and an internal organisation which is commensurate with its new duties.

The quest for degressive proportionality

Because the Treaty of Lisbon was not yet in force, the 2009 elections were fought on the basis of the Treaty of Nice (736 seats within a range of 5 to 99 seats per Member State). There will in any case, therefore, have to be a complete redistribution of seats before the 2014 elections to take into account the provisions of the Lisbon treaty as well as demographic change and the possible accession of new States to the Union.(30)

The principle of degressive proportionality is an elegant federalist concept according to which the interests of smaller minorities are protected by awarding the less populous States relatively higher representation than the more populous States. Despite the agreement of the European Council in December 2007 to accept the European Parliament’s proposal, the principle of degressive proportionality has yet to be applied in practice. In the 2004 Parliament, there were ten states which had too many or too few MEPs. In the present Parliament, elected in June 2009, there are nine. Even after the admission of the 18 extra ‘Lisbon’ MEPs, there will remain five 'transgressions', as the chart and graph in Annex II illustrates.

It is important to recognise that the present ‘system’ for the distribution of seats is really no more than a political fix – and one that is constantly unstable. One obvious destabilising factor is that Germany has a rapidly declining population and that the gap between it, on the one hand, and France, the UK and Italy, on the other, with rising populations, will narrow over the coming decades. If Germany remains with the maximum number of seats (96) despite its falling population, the next most populous states will have to be given a much larger number of seats than at present. Such an outcome will severely prejudice the interests of the medium sized states, thus jeopardising degressive proportionality. So demographic change presents a formidable challenge to the continuation of the present arrangements, to say nothing of the political bartering which inevitably accompanies a redistribution of seats.

The Treaty, at least, says that no state shall be allocated more than 96 seats, opening up the option of gradually reducing Germany's tally to reflect its declining population.(31) At the bottom end of the scale, however, there is no such flexibility: six seats is the basic threshold. One recalls that over the next two decades prospective accession states include at least Croatia, Iceland, the six countries of the Western Balkans and Turkey.

The problem of fitting everyone in fairly beneath the ceiling of 751 according to the principle of degressive proportionality lies directly at the door of Parliament which, under Lisbon, acquires the right (and the duty) to initiate changes in the composition of the House during each mandate. Parliament will also be responsible for proposing the temporary addition of MEPs from accession states during a five-year mandate.

The fact that Germans are disproportionately under-represented in the European Parliament formed part of the motivation of the plaintiffs who brought a case against the Lisbon treaty to the German Federal Constitutional Court. In its judgment of June 2009, the Court concluded, after a diverting discussion of the merits of degressive proportionality, that the system as proposed in the Treaty is acceptable because the EU falls short of being a federal state. The Court found that, in spite of the Union’s pretensions to European citizenship, the European Parliament is in fact made up of national contingents. Unlike the Bundestag, the European Parliament is not an assembly of equals. Nor is it the supreme authority of the European sovereign people. Germany’s representation elsewhere in the government system of the Union compensates for what might in other circumstances be considered its unfair treatment in the Parliament. Moreover, the Treaty contains optional instruments of transnational participatory democracy, such as the citizens’ initiative, which usefully complement the role of MEPs.(32)

The Lisbon judgment of the Karlsruhe Court remains controversial. One does not have to accept its findings, however, to take note of the sensitivity of the issue of how the Parliament is to be composed in the future. At the very least, now that the Lisbon is in force, it will be essential for the decision on the future composition of the Parliament to apply scrupulously the principle of degressive proportionality if litigation in the European Court of Justice is to be avoided.

It may well be that the time has come to look more seriously at arriving at a mathematical formula for the distribution of seats which will be durable, transparent and impartial to politics.(33)

Extending the franchise

It is clear that, because nationality laws are highly variable, there is unequal access to the rights of EU citizenship between one Member State and another. Moreover, the position of nationals of one State who live for a prolonged period in another is also far from uniform. This is particularly relevant when it comes to the loss of franchise at home and the ability to acquire it, or not as the case may be, in the receiving State.(34) Add the layer of twenty-seven complex electoral laws on top of twenty-seven nationality laws and one can quickly see why it has hitherto been considered to be impractical as well as impolitic for the Union to launch a programme of wholesale harmonisation.(35)

There still remains, therefore, a serious problem of disenfranchisement of EU citizens who choose to exercise their EU-given right to live in another Member State. The removal of legal obstacles to free movement has not resulted in practice in an extension of the democratic franchise.(36)

Over the years, however, considerable efforts have been made to encourage people to vote in the European elections. Particular attention has been paid to EU citizens living in a Member State other than their own – a growing number of people now comprising about 2 per cent of the EU’s total population. The Barroso I Commission tried to revise Directive 93/109 laying down detailed arrangements for the exercise of the right to vote and stand as a candidate in elections to the European Parliament for citizens of the Union residing in a Member State of which they are not nationals.(37)

Parliament backed the Commission’s proposals to simplify the bureaucratic procedures involved in registering to vote or stand, and in verification by States of the eligibility of such registrations. However, Parliament took issue with the blanket ban in the 1993 legislation against candidates standing in more than one State at the same election, and asked the Council to relax the current restrictions. Parliament based its position on the fact that, while Article 8 of the 1976 Act forbids dual voting, no such express prohibition applies to the matter of candidature and, furthermore, that an extension of the transnational character of the EU polity depends to some extent on the potential possibility to vote for candidates of a different nationality to one’s own. Parliament also sought to ensure that the State of residence is not automatically obliged to prevent a citizen from voting if he or she has been deprived of his or her electoral rights in another State. MEPs are of the view that, in both cases, it should be up to the States concerned to decide on a case by case basis, in order to prevent discrimination. They referred to the stipulation introduced by the Treaty of Maastricht whereby any citizen has the right to vote or stand in the European Parliamentary elections in the State where he or she resides, under the same conditions as nationals of that State.(38)

A more radical option would be to extend the scope of EU law more widely to allow EU citizens the right to participate not only in European and municipal elections but also in national and regional parliamentary elections. Such an initiative at the EU level would be sure to run into accusations of being in breach of the twin principles of subsidiarity and proportionality. The proposal, therefore, which would necessitate a change to Article 22 TFEU would have to be well debated in a Convention which, of course, includes national parliamentarians as well as governments, the Commission and MEPs.

In the absence of such a treaty change, a federally minded core group of States might attempt enhanced cooperation in electoral law. An extension of bilateral reciprocal franchise rights, such as exist between the UK, Ireland, Cyprus and Malta, would be another way to develop the political rights of EU citizens without formal EU intervention.(39) One might also anticipate a petition on the matter of electoral rights under the new provision of the Treaty of Lisbon for citizens’ initiatives.(40) In any event, should the political climate ever become more amenable to boosting the political content of EU citizenship, the Council can always act to extend the scope of citizenship rights without having to resort to the full paraphernalia of an IGC.(41)

Nationality and citizenship

The Italian protest, launched in the Lisbon IGC, about the number of its seats in the Parliament after 2009 was based, in part, on the claim that the new Treaty would shift the basis on which Parliament should be composed from that of population to that of citizens. The two are different, of course, especially in those countries, such as Italy, which have been more reluctant to naturalise their immigrants than others. However, according to Eurostat, it is impossible to be precise about figures, especially at this time of large-scale movement of people across the internal frontiers of the EU. Eurostat continues to argue, in accordance with UN conventions, that total resident population is the most reliable demographic comparator. Eurostat's estimate is that 94 per cent of the EU population is resident in their home state, 4 per cent are non-EU citizens, and that only 2 per cent are EU citizens living in another Member State.

One recalls that the definition of EU citizen depends entirely on the acquisition of nationality of a Member State. There is no way of becoming an EU citizen without being a national of a Member State. It may be regretted that in almost all States the process of naturalisation and the granting of dual citizenship is becoming more complicated than it used to be. And States are acting individually without regard for the effect of their actions on the breadth or quality of EU citizenship.

Such unilateral tendencies are somewhat discordant with the efforts to revise the EU Treaties in a citizen-friendly way. The Treaty on European Union as amended by the Treaty of Lisbon, for example, is robust about what EU citizenship means, as follows:

Article 9

In all its activities, the Union shall observe the principle of equality of its citizens, who shall receive equal attention from its institutions, bodies, offices and agencies. Every national of a Member State shall be a citizen of the Union. Citizenship of the Union shall be additional to national citizenship and shall not replace it.

Article 10

1. The functioning of the Union shall be founded on representative democracy.

2. Citizens are directly represented at Union level in the European Parliament.

Member States are represented in the European Council by their Heads of State or Government and in the Council by their governments, themselves democratically accountable either to their national Parliaments, or to their citizens.

3. Every citizen shall have the right to participate in the democratic life of the Union. Decisions shall be taken as openly and as closely as possible to the citizen.

4. Political parties at European level contribute to forming European political awareness and to expressing the will of citizens of the Union.

The EU has no single definition of its citizenship, therefore, but twenty-seven national varieties. The array of nationality laws among the twenty-seven States of the EU is bewildering.(42) Some States grant special privileges to third country nationals of ancestral affinity; others most emphatically do not. Some have residential rights for ex-colonial subjects; others do not. Member States treat the civic rights of their overseas territories or dependencies in many different ways. There has been no attempt by the EU to harmonise these laws, although there are many instances of imitation among States. The European Court of Justice has asserted that the right of Member States to set their own rules about the acquisition or loss of nationality is constrained by the necessity to respect EU law.(43) In this context, the 2005 decision by Spain to legalise as many as 700.000 immigrants without consulting its partners received a lot of attention.

Whatever approximation may be achieved in electoral law, however, there will still be the outstanding problem of how to distribute seats in the European Parliament. Do the changes made by the Treaty of Lisbon to Article 14 of the Treaty on European Union on the status of EU citizenship really matter in this context? Should we be counting EU citizens rather than national inhabitants? If so, who precisely is the European Union citizen? Or do we follow James Madison’s belief that, in the republic, parliamentary representation is more of a birthright than a civic privilege? The Madisonian approach suggests that the European Parliament represents not only de jure EU citizens (as formally established by the EU Treaty), but that it also represents, and has a duty of care towards, anyone else who abides in the territory of the Union, including minors and denizens. That being the case, and all other things being equal, the traditional method of distributing seats in the Parliament on the basis of total population – to say nothing of counting votes in the Council – still seems to be the right one and should not be amended at least without deeper reflection.

The need for further reform

The European Parliament should not be complacent about its own electoral methods. If it is to continue to regularly preach the virtues of pluralist liberal democracy to other countries it needs also to be more self-critical.

The OSCE/ODIHR conducted its first fully-fledged observer mission to the European Parliamentary elections in 2009. Its findings are interesting.(44) First, the OSCE team was struck by how different the elections were in each State, noting variances in the methods of distributing seats, the possibility to cast preferential votes, the allocation of vacant seats, electoral systems, franchise, candidature, nomination of candidates, constituencies and polling days. The international observers also found it odd that the European political parties are effectively forbidden from electoral campaigning.(45)

The OSCE/ODIHR criticised in particular:

· a lack of harmonization of candidacy requirements throughout the EU;

· a lack of provisions in some States allowing individual candidates to run in the elections in line with OSCE commitments;

· a lack of provisions in some States on voting rights, particularly for prisoners and for EU residents who do not hold citizenship of any State;

· a lack of possibility to appeal to a court decision regarding election results in some States;

· a lack of provisions in some States to ensure adequate access and cooperation for domestic and international observers, in line with OSCE commitments.

Their recommendations included:

· reviewing some of the current practices for awareness-raising campaigns with a view to increasing effectiveness and avoiding possible perceptions of partisanship;

· ensuring that national campaign legislation adequately addresses the activities of European-level political parties;

· unifying the dates of the elections in order to ensure that the publication of results respects both the need for transparency and the need to avoid potential influence on the results in other States;

· improving the process of exchange of information on registered voters so as to protect the equality of the vote and avoid possible multiple voting;

· amending legislation where necessary to provide for an independent media monitoring mechanism to assess whether media provisions are respected during the campaign period.

In their valuable report, which deserves close attention, the OSCE/ODIHR unearthed numerous complaints from EU citizens allegedly deprived of the franchise when resident in States other than their own. The experts back the Commission's attempt to improve the situation with regard to voting and standing as a candidate.

Petitions

The Petitions Committee of the European Parliament has received a number of serious complaints about one or another aspect of the European elections. Several of those stem from EU citizens now resident in Spain or Malta who object to being disallowed from voting in the European elections by the action (or, more usually, non-action) of the local electoral authorities. Other complaints have been received about non-nationals being barred from joining a political party in their new State of residence.

The most glaring cases raised by petitioners of alleged discrimination are found in Latvia and Estonia where as much as 20 per cent and 12 per cent, respectively, of the population which is Russian are regarded as 'non-citizens' for the purposes of the European and other elections.

Several petitioners from Italy wish to exclude all convicted criminals from standing as a candidate to the European Parliament. The general rule across the EU, however, is that once a sentence has been served or a penalty paid there is no further bar to rehabilitation, including electoral participation. Most States leave it to political parties - and ultimately, the voters - to exercise their discretion as to who should be elected to parliament.

Nevertheless, it may be possible, after further investigation, to introduce the right of recall of MEPs, whereby a Member convicted of a crime after his or her election to the European Parliament could be recalled by a petition of voters. This would be particularly appropriate in a case of gross misuse of public funds.

Another petitioner has raised the issue of why in the United Kingdom hereditary peers who sit in the House of Lords are disqualified from standing for election as MEPs.(46)

Petitions have also been received about the disenfranchisement of people (a) from voting after a period of time in elections in their country of origin, and (b) from voting in their new country of residence in national parliamentary elections. As discussed previously, the issue of widening the franchise to national elections would require a treaty change and should, therefore, be properly the subject of a Convention charged to consider the relationship between EU citizenship and electoral reform.

The Convention should be invited to consider all the other issues raised by the Parliament's petitioners and by the OSCE/ODIHR.

Legitimacy and turnout

The European Parliament is correct to wish to have an enhanced standing in the eye of the public so that it becomes the focus of the new European political space, the accepted forum of the single political market: making European laws and budgets, and holding the executive to account. To date, the search for political legitimacy is being undermined by the continuing decline in turnout at elections, by scanty media reportage, by apathetic political parties and, even, by the latent jealousy of some national parliaments about its growing powers. It is hard not to be depressed by the fact that overall turnout in the European Parliamentary elections has fallen steadily from 63.0 per cent in 1979 to 43.1 per cent in 2009.(47)

On any measure, the falling turnout is evidence of a level of disengagement from European affairs. Nevertheless, the overall turnout figures disguise very large variations between countries stemming from their legal, historical and actual circumstances. The length of EU membership, the incidence of corruption, or the imminence of a national general election, for example, make a big difference to turnout.(48) In 2009 the turnout in Luxembourg was over 90 percent, while in Slovakia it was under 20 per cent. The important factor is the gap between national and European voting habits: the EU mean gap in 2009 was 25 per cent, meaning that of every three voters in national elections, only two turned out for the European Parliament. In the Netherlands the ratio was two to one.(49)

Can a formal reform of the electoral procedure rectify the turnout problem? Our criteria for initiating a new bout of reform should be carefully defined. We are not seeking uniformity for uniformity’s sake. In catering for perceived problems at the national level, our approach should be realistic. Gradualism, perforce, has worked over the years to bring forth many of the objectives first articulated by the founding fathers of the Union in the 1950s. This reform is unlikely to be the last: strong parliaments adapt readily to changing societal and political circumstances. In the case of the EU, the pace and scale of future enlargement is a big unknown. Without knowing the future size and shape of the Union, it would be foolhardy to try to settle today the final destiny of post-national parliamentary democracy in Europe.

But we know at least enough about the alternative scenarios for Europe’s future for us to be certain that a strong, vital, directly elected Parliament should be - and will be - at the heart of its system of governance.

Privileges and Immunities

There is important unfinished business concerning the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities. This instrument dates back almost fifty years to a time when Members of the European Parliament were also Members of their national parliaments, and when it was no doubt appropriate that national authorities were responsible for deciding when and how MEPs should be exempted from national law. At the time of the agreement on the Members' Statute in 2005, however, Parliament took the view that the Protocol should be revamped to accord with the Parliament's contemporary status as an independent, directly elected and fully responsible assembly. There have been a number of instances of conflict between the national and EU regimes concerning the verification of the credentials of MEPs and for the filling of vacancies which have exposed real discrepancies over the legal position of MEPs in their 27 different home states. Parliament should now be enabled to take action against the withdrawal of a mandate of an MEP by a State where and in so far as national law is in conflict with the Act or the law of the European Union;

As an integral part of the negotiated agreement on the Members' Statute, Council agreed to review any consequences the Statute might have in terms of primary law. Parliament has asked that its resolution of June 2003 which proposed new provisions on the privileges and immunities of MEPs should be used as a basis for that review.(50) To date, there has been no progress on this matter. What is needed now, after Lisbon, is for these important questions to be placed on the agenda of a Convention tasked to consider all aspects of parliamentary reform.

Gender and ethnic imbalance

The number of women MEPs has more than doubled since the first elections in 1979, and now stands at 35.5 per cent of the total. Here again, there are marked variances among States. In the 2009 Parliament, Finland and Sweden have a majority of women MEPs; less than a third of MEPs from Slovenia, Lithuania, Ireland, Italy, Poland, the Czech Republic and Luxembourg are women; and Malta has none.(51)

We do not propose to impose quotas to redress the gender imbalance. However, political parties should be urged to aim for a target of there being at least 40 per cent of women in 2014, as recommended by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

It should be noted that in almost all States, women’s representation is better in the European Parliament than it is in the national parliaments.

The position with regard to ethnic minorities is much worse. There are very few Asian or Afro-Caribbean MEPs. If EU citizenship is to be made a reality for immigrant communities and their descendants, the political parties must ensure a decent mix of ethnicity among their top candidates.

Drawing conclusions

It is clear from this discussion that there remain a significant number of important questions of electoral procedure which, if addressed effectively, would make the elections to the Parliament more uniform in the future than they have been in the past and should bring benefits in terms of cohesion, legitimacy, efficiency and pluralism.(52)

We have already signalled our view that a Convention on electoral reform is both necessary and desirable to consider in a democratic and comprehensive manner the complex set of interrelated issues of franchise, turnout, composition, privileges and voting system. It would be useful in any case - and if nothing else - to review the different national electoral systems in use with a view to ironing out the more obvious dissimilarities and anomalies.(53)

While it must be a major objective of electoral reform to encourage increased turnout, there will be some proposals - for example, reducing the voting age - which may not be conducive to achieving that goal but which, nevertheless, have some intrinsic merit.

The critical goal is to enhance the European dimension to these elections so that public opinion and the media engage in making political choices about the future of the European Union. Here the role of the European political parties will be critical. Without viable political parties at the federal level, an essential sinew of democracy is missing. That is why it is proposed that, in addition to the 751 MEPs elected in the traditional way from national and regional constituencies, a supplement of 25 MEPs is added to the next Parliament in 2014 to be elected from a single, pan-EU constituency. It is the European political parties which would be responsible for selecting the candidates, ordering their list, and competing with each other for votes. Such an innovation would transform the elections to the European Parliament and increase its representative capability – reflecting the Lisbon treaty change that lays down that MEPs are now to be ‘representatives of the Union’s citizens’ rather than ‘representatives of the peoples of the States’.(54)

Voting for the EU-wide list will, of course, be optional, with a second ballot paper being offered to each voter in the polling stations. One might expect the take-up of this option to grow over time as the electorate became accustomed to the new dimension to politics and the political parties became skilled at campaigning on an EU-wide basis.

If we are to enhance the transnational character of the European Parliament, it would be important at the same time to avoid the alienation of voters by only accentuating the large size of the Union and the perceived distance of ‘Brussels’ from the individual citizen. As persistent Eurobarometer and other opinion polls suggest, the electorate is scarcely well informed about the EU’s system of governance. Voters tend to identify best with smaller electoral districts. They also respond positively to being able to exercise a choice between voting merely en bloc for a preordained party list, on the one hand, and, on the other, being able to indicate a preference for an individual candidate from the party list. Action can be taken to address both of those issues. That is why the Report proposes, first, the mandatory creation of regional, territorial constituencies within the larger States and, second, the compulsory use of the preferential semi-open list system.

These are the key proposals in the Report. They are designed to broaden the democratic legitimacy of the European Parliament by strengthening the idea of European citizenship. They will give the European political parties a raison d'être that they do not have at the moment. They will usefully complement the reforms introduced already by the Lisbon treaty with respect to representative and participatory democracy.

In summary, therefore, the proposals raised in this Report include reforms to:

1.  Create a transnational constituency for 25 additional MEPs to be elected by a second vote according to a preferential list system, gender-balanced;

2.  Make mandatory the establishment of territorial constituencies on a regional basis in the more populous States;

3.  Insist on preferential voting by the semi-open list system (whereby electors can vote for individual candidates within a party list in order to overturn the ordering of the party list);

4.  Introduce a regular review of the distribution of the 751 seats during each Parliamentary mandate in time for the next elections which respects the principle of degressive proportionality and, maybe, accords with a yet-to-be-agreed mathematical formula;

5.  Facilitate arrangements for EU citizens living in a state other than their own to stand as candidates and vote;

6.  Create an EU electoral authority to manage and oversee the transnational list election, and to hear appeals;

7.  Reduce the polling timetable to the weekend in order both to dramatise the vote and to reduce the malpractice of premature disclosure of results (requiring change in Ireland, the Netherlands and the UK);

8.  Shift the elections from June to May in order to expedite the election of the new Commission;

9.  Propose uniform minimum ages for electors and for candidates;

10.  Establish a supranational regime for the privileges and immunities of MEPs;

11.  Explore an extension of e-polling in an effort to mobilise voters and facilitate voting.

The process of reform

The package of reforms proposed here requires a number of instruments of EU primary law to be made according to different procedures.

(a)  The introduction of an EU-wide list for 25 additional MEPs requires a change to Article 14(2) TEU via the procedures laid down for the ordinary revision of the treaty, namely a Convention followed by an IGC, with ratification by all the states.(55)

(b)  Revision of the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities necessitates the same procedure.

(c)  The redistribution of the 751 seats in time for the next elections requires a unanimous decision of the European Council on a proposal and with the consent of the Parliament.(56)

(d)  Other elements concerning the electoral procedure require a special law of the Council, acting unanimously, on a proposal and with the consent of Parliament, acting by an absolute majority of its Members, followed by the endorsement by all national parliaments.(57)

That special legislative procedure may take the form of an amendment to the 1976 Act, as is proposed in this Report. Alternatively, it may, however, be thought more suitable for reasons of transparency to introduce a new protocol to the Treaties on the electoral procedure which would replace the original legislation and incorporate all the different elements of primary law discussed here.

Once the basic reforms proposed here are carried, implementing legislation will be required in due course, for example, to establish the new EU electoral authority.

There will be budgetary consequences both for the EU and States as a result of these reforms.

While different instruments and procedures are required, the reforms constitute a coherent package of measures which should be considered in their entirety. Fortunately, the forum of the Convention provides the perfect mechanism for a comprehensive deliberation on a set of issues which are fairly complex, will have a big impact on national law, and carry important constitutional implications.

A Convention will be in a good position not only to engage the European Council, Commission and national parliaments in a substantive debate on parliamentary reform, but also to stimulate wider consultation with representatives of political parties, academia, electoral officers, non-governmental organisations etc.

It would be appropriate for Parliament, in submitting its proposals to the Council for treaty revision, to indicate at the same time that it will be requiring the holding of a Convention.

The timetable suggests itself: approval by Parliament of its proposals July-September 2010; decision of European Council to convene an IGC, October-December; holding the Convention and IGC, spring and summer 2011; national ratification and European Parliament consent by June 2012, followed by implementing measures; decision on redistribution of seats by May 2013 at the latest, in time for the elections to take place under the reformed system in early May 2014.

(1)

Also Article 108 (3) of the Euratom Treaty.

(2)

Teitgen Report, Committee for Political Affairs and External Relations, Document Nr. 5 1954/1955 and Common Assembly Resolution of 2 December 1954 concerning the powers of the Common Assembly and their use; ECSC, OJ of 11.12.1954.

(3)

Dehousse Report, OJ 37, 2.6.1960.

(4)

Report of the Working Party examining the problem of the Enlargement of the Powers of the European Parliament, Bulletin of the European Communities, Supplement 4/72.

(5)

Paragraph 12 of the Communiqué of the heads of government, Paris, 9-10 December 1974. The UK and Denmark reserved their positions. The decision was confirmed by the European Council in Rome the following December.

(6)

Patijn Report, adopted on 14 January 1975; OJ C 32, 11.2.1975.

(7)

Council Decision 76/787/ECSC, EEC, EURATOM; OJ L 278, 8.10.1976.

(8)

The UK and Denmark annexed declarations concerning their overseas territories; and Germany another with respect to Berlin.

(9)

Seitlinger Report, adopted on 10 March 1982 by 158 votes to 77 with 27 abstentions; OJ C 87, 5.4.1982. Yet see the critical Opinion of the Legal Affairs Committee (rapporteur D’Angelosante).

(10)

De Gucht Report, adopted 10 October 1991 by 150 to 26 with 30 abstentions; OJ C 280, 28.10.1991.

(11)

De Gucht Report, adopted 10 March 1993 by 207 to 79 with 19 abstentions; OJ C 115, 26.4.1993.

(12)

Northern Ireland had enjoyed STV since 1979 because of the overwhelming need to reflect minority opinion in the province. In 1999 10 Liberal Democrats, 2 Greens, 2 Plaid Cymru and 3 UKIP MEPs were elected to the Parliament, witness to the importance of proportional representation to the legitimation of the European Parliament.

(13)

Later Article 19(2) of the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC). The Treaty of Maastricht necessitated a revision of the 1976 Act, in Council Decision 93/81; OJ L 33, 9.2.1993.

(14)

Article 138(2), subsequently Article 190(2).

(15)

This, which became Article 190(3), simply codified the 1976 Act.

(16)

Rapporteur's emphasis.

(17)

OJ C 292, 21.9.1998; Parliament’s resolution is reproduced in Annex I.

(18)

Council Decision of 25 June 2002 and 23 September 2002 amending the Act concerning the election of the representatives of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage; OJ L 283, 21.10.2002.

(19)

For a full account, see Dr George N. Anastassopoulos The Debate on the System of Electing the Members of the European Parliament, foreword by Professor Dimitris Th. Tsatsos MEP, Athens & Brussels, 2002.

(20)

Rapporteur's emphasis.

(21)

The rapporteur was a member of the Convention on the Future of Europe (2002-03) and was one of Parliament’s three representatives to the 2007 IGC.

(22)

Article III-232 of the Draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (2003).

(23)

Article I-19(2) of the Draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (2003).

(24)

Notably, Article I-45(2) which said that ‘Citizens are directly represented at Union level in the European Parliament', (later replicated by the Treaty of Lisbon in Article 10(2) of the Treaty on European Union).

(25)

Respectively, Regulation (EC) No 2004/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 November 2003 on the regulations governing political parties at European level and the rules regarding their funding; OJ L 297, 15-11-2003; and Regulation (EC) No 1524/2007 of 18 December 2007; OJ L 343, 27-12-2007.

(26)

Decision of the European Parliament of 28 September 2005 adopting the Statute for Members of the European Parliament (2005/684/EC, Euratom), OJ L 262, 07-10-2005.

(27)

From paragraph 6 of the Lamassoure-Severin Report, adopted 11 October 2007 by 378 votes in favour to 154 against, with 109 abstentions; A6-0351/2007 (OJ C 227 E, 4.9.2008, p. 132).

(28)

The political agreement on the redistribution of seats was confirmed by the European Council on 14 December 2007 (paragraph 5 of the Presidency Conclusions). .

(29)

References to the Treaty of Lisbon are from the consolidated version of the Treaties, OJ C 115, 9.5.2008.

(30)

In the event that Croatia joins the EU during the term of the 2009-14 Parliament, its seats will be added temporarily to the 751, as per the precedent of Bulgaria and Romania. Likewise with Iceland.

(31)

Article 14(2) TEU. However, one notes that the now redundant draft decision of the European Council on the composition of the 2009-14 Parliament requires that ‘the minimum and maximum numbers … must be fully utilised to ensure that the allocation of seats … reflects as closely as possible the range of populations’. This is, frankly, bizarre.

(32)

Federal Constitutional Court Judgment of 30 June 2009, especially paragraphs 279-297; http://www.bundesverfassungsgericht.de/entscheidungen/es20090630_2bve000208en.html

(33)

See, for example, Victoriano Ramirez et al, 'Degressively Proportional Methods for the Allotment of the European Parliament Seats Amongst the EU Member States' in Mathematics and Democracy, Springer, Berlin 2006.

(34)

UK citizens, for example, lose the right to vote in UK elections after 15 years abroad.

(35)

The EU’s approach to date has been rightly tentative: see Directive 2004/38/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States; OJ L 158, 30-04-2004.

(36)

See Dimitry Kochenov, 'Free Movement and Participation in the Parliamentary Elections in the Member State of Nationality: An Ignored Link?' in Maastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law (MJ), 2009, no. 2.

(37)

OJ L 329, 30.12.1993.

(38)

Duff Report (A6-0267/2007) on the Proposal for a Council Directive amending Directive 93/109/EC of 6 December 1993 as regards certain detailed arrangements for the exercise of the right to vote and stand as a candidate in elections to the European Parliament for citizens of the Union residing in a Member State of which they are not nationals. Adopted by the Parliament on 26 September 2007 (OJ C 219 E, 28.8.2008, p. 193) the matter remains unresolved in the Council.

(39)

For a full discussion of these issues, see Jo Shaw, The Transformation of Citizenship in the European Union: Electoral Rights and the Restructuring of Political Space, Cambridge, 2007.

(40)

Article 11(4) TEU.

(41)

Article 25 TFEU.

(42)

See Rainer Bauböck, Eva Ersbøll, Kees Groenendijk and Harald Waldrauch (eds), Acquisition and Loss of Nationality: policies and trends in 15 European states, Institute for European Integration Research, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna, January 2006.

(43)

See, for example, Cases C-369/90 Micheletti[1992], C-145/04 Spain v. United Kingdom [2006] (Gibraltar) and C-300/04 Eman and Sevinger v. College van burgemeester en wethouders van Den Haag [2006] (Aruba).

(44)

OSCE/ODIHR Expert Group Report, Elections to the European Parliament, 4-7 June 2009, Warsaw, 22 September 2009.

(45)

Regulation EC 2004/2003, as amended in 2007.

(46)

The answer is because, ironically, the residuary aristocratic element in the House of Lords is the only part of that chamber which is itself elected (by their peers). 'Life peers' are not elected to and cannot resign from the House of Lords.

(47)

See Annex III.

(48)

In Belgium, Cyprus and Luxembourg voting is compulsory.

(49)

See the study by Richard Rose and Gabriela Borz, Variability in European Parliament Turnout: political causes and implications, Studies in Public Policy Number 466, Centre for the Study of Public policy, University of Aberdeen, 2010.

(50)

See OJ C 068E, 18-03-2004, pp. 115-126 and OJ C 303E, 13-12-2006, pp. 830-831.

(51)

See Annex IV.

(52)

The rapporteur is grateful for the stimulus provided by the participants in a workshop on Citizenship and Electoral Procedure, held in Brussels on 25-26 March 2008. Papers were contributed by Betty de Hart, Dieter Gosewinkel, Sara Hagemann & Simon Hix, Eva Østergaard-Nielsen, Ken Ritchie and Jo Shaw. These papers and a summary of the discussion can be found at: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/activities/committees/hearings.do?body=AFCO&language=EN

(53)

See Annex V.

(54)

Article 14(2) TEU and Article 189 TEC, respectively.

(55)

Article 48(2), (3) and (4) TEU.

(56)

Article 14(2) TEU.

(57)

Article 223(1) TFEU.


ANNEX I TO THE EXPLANATORY STATEMENT: Resolution on a draft electoral procedure incorporating common principles for the election of Members of the European Parliament (Anastassopoulos Report)(1)

The European Parliament,

–    having regard to the motion for a resolution by Mr De Vries on the uniform electoral procedure for the election of Members of the European Parliament (B4-0723/96),

–     having regard to its reports on a uniform electoral procedure, and in particular its resolutions of 10 October 1991(2)and 10 March 1993(3),

–     having regard to the Act concerning the election of the representatives of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage annexed to the Council Decision of 20 September 1976,

–    having regard to the proposal of 22 October 1996 on a uniform electoral procedure which was tabled by the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany at the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) and which reproduces the key aspects of Parliament’s resolution of 10 March 1993,

–    having regard to Article 138(3) of the EC Treaty and the modification thereof effected by the Treaty of Amsterdam,

–    having regard to Rule 148 of its Rules of Procedure,

–    having regard to the report of the Committee on Institutional Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Citizens' Rights (A4-0212/98),

A.  whereas the Treaty of Amsterdam introduces the concept of 'principles common to all Member States', following the guidelines set out by Parliament in its resolution of 10 March 1993 referred to above, which did not explicitly propose a uniform electoral system but merely general guidelines,

B.   whereas the Government of the United Kingdom has tabled a bill in Parliament, introducing regional proportional representation for the European elections in 1999,

C.  whereas the negotiations on enlargement will probably lead to ten new Member States joining the European Union,

D.  whereas a very broad consensus has emerged among the Member States on determining a number of common principles,

E    whereas those principles are intended to be implemented in the first instance at national level in a union of peoples and states; whereas the number of Members elected in each Member State is intended to guarantee appropriate representation of the peoples of the states brought together in the Community,

1.   Welcomes the agreement reached by negotiators at the IGC establishing a number of common principles; is convinced that some of the provisions can enter into force for the next European elections, particularly a system of proportional representation, the minimum threshold, incompatibilities and measures aimed at reaching the objective of equality between men and women, whereas others should be phased in;

2.   Considers that there is a general consensus on introducing voting based on a system of proportional representation, and that this should be incorporated into the European electoral system;

3.   Notes that it is impossible to establish a system of territorial constituencies in a uniform manner and that there has to be a distinction based on the population of each Member State; emphasises, however, that a system of territorial constituencies must not affect the principle of proportional representation, in accordance with Article 2 of the draft Act;

4.   Considers that, with a view to a European political awareness and the development of European political parties, a certain percentage of seats could be distributed on a proportional representation basis within a single constituency formed by the territory of the Member States;

5.   Observes, where the use of a threshold is concerned, that this should remain optional and in any event should not exceed 5% of the votes cast nationally;

6.    Notes the stimulus to participation represented by preferential voting, which should, however, remain optional for each Member State;

7.   Considers that when lists of candidates for European elections are drawn up account must be taken of the objective of equality between men and women and that it is primarily a matter for the political parties to achieve this objective directly;

8.   Proposes that European elections should be held on a date in the month of May, so as to maximize the turnout by avoiding the school summer holidays, which start at the beginning of June in several Member States;

9.   Recommends that the number of days on which elections can be held should be reduced to the absolute minimum, with a view to reaching a consensus on a single voting day, or, if this is not possible, no more than two days (e.g. Saturday and Sunday);

10. Calls on the Council to examine the following draft Act and to adopt it speedily so as to enable it to enter into force as soon as possible;

11.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution and the draft Act annexed to it to the Council, the Commission and the parliaments and governments of the Member States.

(1)

Adopted on 15 July 1998; OJ C 292, 21.9.1998.

(2)

OJ C 280, 28.10.1991, p. 141.

(3)

OJ C 115, 26.4.1993, p. 121


ANNEX II TO THE EXPLANATORY STATEMENT: Distribution of Seats (2009 - 2014)


ANNEX III TO THE EXPLANATORY STATEMENT: European Parliament Voter Turnout (1979 - 2009)


ANNEX IV TO THE EXPLANATORY STATEMENT: Gender Imbalance


ANNEX V TO THE EXPLANATORY STATEMENT: European Parliament: Current Electoral Practice in Member States

 

Constituencies

 

Preferential voting

 

Distribution of seats

 

Threshold

 

Franchise

 

Candidature

 

Nomination of candidates

 

Polling days

 

AUSTRIA

Single national constituency

Yes

 

D'Hondt

 

4%

Age: 16

- Registered EU citizens

 

Age: 18

- Registered EU citizens

 

Fee of € 3600 per list;

candidate must be supported by 3 MPs, one MEP or 2600 registered voters

Sunday

BELGIUM

Three linguistic electoral colleges (Dutch, French, German); and four regional constituencies:

1. Flanders (Dutch electoral college),

2. Wallonia (French electoral college),

3. Brussels-Hal-Vilvorde (BHV) (either Dutch or French electoral college), 4. 2 cantons (German electoral college)

Yes

D'Hondt

 

No

Age: 18

- Registered EU citizens

- BE nationals resident in other member states (BE nationals residing outside the EU cannot vote in EP elections);

- voting compulsory: failure to vote carries a penalty

 

Age: 21

- Registered EU citizens

- Must speak the relevant language of electoral college

 

Endorsement of candidates:

- by 5 BE MPs belonging to relevant linguistic group;

- by 5000 registered voters in Wallonia, Flanders & BHV;

- by 200 voters registered in the German speaking constituency

 

Sunday

BULGARIA

Single national constituency

Yes

Hare-Niemeyer

No

Age: 18

- EU citizens resident for 3 months or in another member state

 

Age: 21

- EU citizens resident for 2 years or in another EU member state

-

 

- Individuals need 10.000 signatures and pay 10.000 leva (€ 5100);

- Political parties need 15.000 signatures and pay 15.000 leva (€ 7700);

- Coalitions need 20.000 signatures and pay 20.000 leva (€ 10.250)

Sunday

CYPRUS

Single national constituency

 

No

 

D'Hondt / Droop

 

No

Age: 18

- CY and EU citizens resident 6 months before the elections;

- Special electoral roll;

- Voting is compulsory (but no penalty)

Age: 25

 

 

 

Sunday

CZECH REPUBLIC

Single national constituency

Yes: each voter has 2 votes. To be elected need 5% of votes delivered for his/her political party

D'Hondt

5%

Age: 18

- EU citizens resident for 45 days;

 

 

Age: 21

- EU citizens resident for 45 days;

 

 

- Only political parties or coalitions may nominate candidates;

- Fee of 15.000 crowns

(€ 585)

 

 

Friday & Saturday

DENMARK

Single national constituency

 

No

 

D'Hondt

No

Age: 18

- DK citizens with permanent residency in EU;

- Registered EU citizens

Age: 18

- Any person with right to vote in EP elections;

 

 

- Parties represented in the Folketing or EP;

- New parties need signatures of voters corresponding to at least 2% of votes in previous Folketing election;

No fixed day

ESTONIA

Single national constituency

 

No

 

D'Hondt

 

Age: 18

 

Age: 21

 

- Registered political parties submit lists;

- A deposit of 5 times the minimum monthly wage

Sunday

FINLAND

Single national constituency

 

Yes

 

D'Hondt

No

Age: 18

- Registered EU citizens

 

Age: 18

- Registered EU

 

- Political parties or voters' association (formed of at least 2000 persons) nominate candidates

Sunday

FRANCE

Eight regional constituencies

 

No

 

D'Hondt

5%

Age: 18

- Registered EU citizens

 

Age: 23

- Registered EU citizens

 

- Gender equality

 

Sunday

GERMANY

Single national constituency - but members elected from either Land or Federal lists

 

No

 

Sainte-Laguë

(according to change of law 17 March 2008; BGBl. I, p. 394)

5%

Age: 18

- Registered EU citizens

 

Age: 18

- Registered EU citizens

 

- Lists submitted by political parties established in EU;

- For Federal list: parties with less than 5 representatives in EP, Bundestag or Land parliaments need 4000 signatures;

For Land list: 2000 signatures needed

Sunday

GREECE

Single national constituency

No

Variant of Hare

3%

Age: 18

 

Age: 21

 

- Lists submitted by political parties or coalitions;

Sunday

HUNGARY

Single national constituency

 

No

 

D'Hondt

5%

Age: 18

- Registered EU citizens

 

Age: 18

- All voters have right to stand for election as candidates on party lists

- Lists submitted by registered party and 20.000 endorsements (a voter can only endorse one list)

Sunday

IRELAND

Four regional constituencies

 

Yes

 

 

 

Single Transferable Vote (STV)

 

No

Age: 18

 

Age: 21

 

- Lists submitted by registered political parties;

- Independent candidates need 60 signatures of persons on the electoral register and from the same constituency

Friday

ITALY

(under current review)

Five regional constituencies

 

 

Yes - and votes can be transferred from one constituency to another

 

Hare

 

No

 

 

Age: 18

- Registered EU citizens;

- IT citizens in other EU states may vote at Italian consulates or by post; IT citizens residing outside EU if they return to vote in IT;

- Voting not compulsory but a 'civic duty'

Age: 25

- Registered EU citizens

 

- Individual nominations need 30.000 signatures, 10% of which must come from each sub-region of the constituency;

- Political parties and groups with at least one seat in EP or in IT parliament can submit lists without signatures

 

Saturday / Sunday

LATVIA

Single national constituency

 

No

 

Sainte-Laguë

 

No

Age: 18

 

Age: 21

 

 

- Lists submitted by registered political parties;

- Deposit of LVL 1.000 (€ 1.450)

Saturday

LITHUANIA

Single national constituency

Yes

 

Hare-Niemeyer

5%

Age: 18

 

Age: 21

 

- Only political parties can nominate candidates;

Sunday

LUXEMBOURG

Single national constituency

 

Yes - electors have 6 votes

 

D'Hondt / Hagenbach– Bischoff

 

No

Age: 18

- EU citizens resident for 5 years;

- Voting is compulsory

 

Age: 18

- EU citizens resident for 5 years

- Lists need 250 signatories of registered voters or of one MEP or of members of the Chamber of Deputies;

- Lists must be composed of a majority of LUX nationals

Sunday

MALTA

Single national constituency

 

Yes

 

STV

No

 

Age: 18

 

Age: 18

 

- Deposit of 40 Maltese pounds (€ 95) (reimbursed if 10% of vote)

Saturday

NETHERLANDS

Single national constituency

 

Yes

D'Hondt

 

No

Age: 18

- Registered EU citizens

 

Age: 18

- Registered EU citizens

 

- Parties not represented in the EP must pay a deposit of € 450;

- Lists must be accompanied by at least 30 signatures of voters

Thursday

POLAND

Thirteen regional constituencies

 

No

 

D'Hondt / Hare-Niemeyer

5%

Age: 18

- Registered EU citizens

 

Age: 21

- EU citizens resident for 5 years

 

- Lists need at least 5 names and 10.000 signatures of voters of the relevant constituency

Sunday

PORTUGAL

Single national constituency

 

No

 

D'Hondt

No

Age: 18

 

Age: 18

 

- Lists must contain candidates equal to the number of MEPs to be elected, plus 3-8 substitutes

Sunday

ROMANIA

Single national constituency

 

No

 

D'Hondt

5%

Age: 18

- Registered EU citizens

Age: 23

- Registered EU citizens

- Lists need 200.000 signatures; independent candidates 100.000

Sunday

SLOVAKIA

Single national constituency

 

Yes

 

Droop

5%

Age: 18

- Registered EU citizens resident and present on election day

Age: 21

- Registered EU citizens

 

- Political party deposit of 50.000 SKK (€ 1510)

 

Saturday

SLOVENIA

Single national constituency

 

Yes

 

D'Hondt

4%

Age: 18

Age: 18

 

- Political parties submit lists supported by four members of the National Assembly or at least 1000 voters;

- Independent candidates endorsed by 3000 signatures

Sunday

SPAIN

Single national constituency

 

No

 

D'Hondt

No

Age: 18

- Registered EU citizens

 

Age: 18

- Registered EU citizens

 

- Parties or coalitions submit lists with 15.000 signatures of voters or of elected representatives

Sunday

SWEDEN

Single national constituency

 

Yes

 

Sainte-Lagüe

Parties must obtain 4%; candidates must obtain 5% of the total number of votes cast for his/her party

Age: 18

- Registered EU citizens

 

Age: 18

- Anyone entitled to vote may stand for election

 

- No conditions

 

Sunday

UNITED

KINGDOM

Twelve regional constituencies

 

 

Great Britain: No

 

Northern Ireland: Yes

Great Britain: D'Hondt;

 

Northern Ireland: STV

No

Age: 18

- Registered EU citizens resident for 1 year

 

Age: 21

- Registered EU citizens resident for 1 year

- Deposit of £ 5.000 (€ 6750);

- Nominations in constituencies must be endorsed by 30 voters

Thursday

 

 

Exchange rates as of February 2008


RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

19.4.2011

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

20

4

0

Members present for the final vote

Andrew Henry William Brons, Carlo Casini, Andrew Duff, Ashley Fox, Matthias Groote, Roberto Gualtieri, Enrique Guerrero Salom, Zita Gurmai, Gerald Häfner, Daniel Hannan, Stanimir Ilchev, Constance Le Grip, David Martin, Morten Messerschmidt, Algirdas Saudargas, György Schöpflin, József Szájer, Indrek Tarand, Rafał Trzaskowski, Guy Verhofstadt

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Elmar Brok, Zuzana Brzobohatá, Marietta Giannakou, Íñigo Méndez de Vigo, Helmut Scholz

Last updated: 23 May 2011Legal notice