Why transnational lists are neither European nor democratic

07.02.2018 - 10:05
European Parliament

The idea that MEPs are more European, and would therefore better safeguard Europe and European ideas, if they are disconnected from their electorates is absurd and based on an artificial view of what being European is and on what democracy is.

Closing the gap

Europe is not the people we meet in the European Parliament or in the European Commission. Europe is the people of Helsinki and Malmö, of Valencia and Valetta, students and researchers in all of our universities, people who go to work in factories and shops and hospitals. Young, old, women and men.

The idea of transnational lists, where MEPs are elected without constituencies and without responsibility, rejects this true Europe. Therefore, the transnational lists should be rejected.

At a time when people are experiencing a confidence gap between voters and political representatives it would be a mistake to widen the gap even further.

Removing the electoral constituencies in favour of European political groups would weaken the link between Members and their electorate. Consequently, the European Parliament would get MEPs without local support.

This creates a more distant and centralised European Union, rather than a more democratic and accountable one.

Countering populism - the need for clear responsibility

Transnational lists would strengthen the populists and the counterparts of Farage, Le Pen and Wilders. Those who are against the very idea of the European Union but who have no intention of discussing the challenges we face and taking responsibility.

They are the ones who benefit from the lack of scrutiny from a defined electorate. The losers would be the citizens of Europe.

A European constituency with accountability to no one would make the EU a project for the elites instead of a Union rooted in the realities of our citizens.

Keeping the diversity in 'United in diversity'

The success of the European Union stems from the combination of visionary idealism with realistic pragmatism. Our common challenges need to be met with a united response, but the idea that more centralisation equals more Europe is misguided.

European citizens benefit from EU legislation through trade, freedom of movement, a common telecoms market and increased cooperation on foreign and security policy, but Europe goes beyond the institutions in Brussels and Strasbourg. Europe is its countries, regions, villages and citizens.

The words “united in diversity” are not only about unity but also about diversity. You cannot have one without the other.

The dynamism and strength of Europe come from balancing national and European interests, small and big countries, different EU institutions, political parties and regions.

As citizens, we elect our representatives. Our representatives must be connected with their electorate. That’s democracy and that's how Europe can be strong, united and a vision coming true step-by-step, defined by us all together as citizens.


Esther Herranz García MEP and Nuno Melo MEP
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