EP to push for reform of European elections

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European elections are still governed for the most part by national laws, with political campaigns mostly focusing on national matters. Over the past years, a number of MEPs have been pushing for wide-ranging reforms, including lowering the voting age, transnational lists, and gender balance rules, ahead of the next European elections in 2024. These proposals have now been cemented into a detailed report that will be voted upon on Committee stage.

Last year, the European Parliament had insisted in a resolution that minorities and more than 800,000 citizens with disabilities were effectively excluded from the 2019 voting due to a lack of accessible voting centres or other bureaucratic barriers. Homeless people and prisoners in countries that allow them the vote also faced “obstacles” in exercising their right to vote. Lowering the minimum voting age to 16, changes to campaigning and funding rules, and the establishment of a European Electoral Authority were among the recommendations the EP had brought forward at the time and which are likely to be pushed once again this time round.

On the eve of this vote, Spanish Socialist MEP Domènec Ruiz Devesa said that reforms to the European electoral laws to make constituencies pan-European could increase legitimacy and bring Europe closer to its citizens. He added that “a pan-European constituency would achieve three objectives, which I consider important and interrelated. Firstly, the European political parties would be reinforced, having the power to select transnational candidates, as well as to campaign in support of them and their programme, with their own logos. Some of these candidates would campaign throughout Europe, not only in their states of origin or residence.

The Young European Federalists have been pushing for EU transnational lists at EP elections, saying that with the current system MEPs tend to prioritise domestic issues in their programmes and feel accountable to only a fraction of Europeans who can elect them from specific countries or regions. In a recent proposal to the Conference on the Future of Europe, the organisation suggested that every European citizen would have two votes, one to be cast for a candidate on a (sub)national list drawn by national parties (the same way as it this now), and one to be cast for a candidate on an EU-wide transnational list drawn by European political parties.

The MEPs would then be chosen based on the proportion of all votes cast on their respective (sub)national or EU-wide lists. As a minimum, the overall number of MEPs elected from EU-wide lists can be set at approximately 50 and gradually increased in relation to (sub)national lists to allow the European public to adapt to the new method. European political parties should ensure that their transnational lists reflect the Union’s diversity by drawing candidates from at least 1/4 of the member states and limiting the percentage of candidates from a single member state on each list, the organisation said.

Migration, Cancer, Toys and French Presidency also on the agenda

MEPs will this week assess the implementation of Toy Safety Directive and propose measures to ensure that all toys sold on the EU market, including from non-EU countries and online, are safe. MEPs of the special committee on beating cancer will put forward their recommendations on developing EU policy on the subject in a vote on Thursday. The report focuses on fighting inequalities in prevention, treatment and survivorship across Europe and calls for bigger support for research and innovation, and making treatments more accessible and affordable.

A High-Level Conference on migration and asylum on Friday will look at the current situation and the possible measures, including the new Pact on Migration and Asylum and migration partnerships with non-EU countries. The meeting is organised by the European Parliament and the last three presidencies of the EU (Germany, Portugal, Slovenia).

On Thursday, EP President David Sassoli and political groups’ leaders will be in Paris to meet members of the French government and parliament to discuss the priorities for the upcoming six-month Council presidency, which starts on 1 January 2022. On the same day, MEPs of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee will vote on a report that includes proposals to ensure toys sold on the EU market, including those coming from other countries, are sustainable and safe for use.

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