Reinvigorating European elections: The implications of electing the European Commission

Author (Person)
Publication Date 2004
ISBN 1-86203-160-6
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Europe's voters went to the polls in June 2004 to elect 732 Members of the European Parliament. In the past European Parliament (EP) elections have been characterized by low turnout, with an emphasis on national rather than European issues. The evidence suggests that this year's elections will be little different despite the enlargement of the Union on 1 May. The lack of interest in EP elections arises because Europe's citizens do not believe that their votes will change much: they do not lead to a change of government in the EU and they do not directly change the direction of EU policies. And, at the same time, there is a strong sense that the EU interferes in areas where it has no business to be while failing to act on issues such as foreign policy and immigration, where voters would like it to act.

In order to enhance interest in EP elections, it is necessary to reform the Union so that it undertakes only those tasks that cannot be performed so well at the local or national level, and to ensure that it performs those tasks that it undertakes effectively. This will enhance popular support for the Union but will not on its own make EP elections more interesting to the voters. Thus European elections should contribute directly to the formation of the European Commission, a key part of the Union's executive. This could be done by direct or indirect election of the Commission President or the whole College of Commissioners.

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