Call for an interinstitutional agreement on the procedure to elect the Commission President
Proposals to increase turnout, ensure citizens can exercise their right to vote and accessible participation
The Committee on Constitutional Affairs is proposing ways to enhance the democratic aspects of the upcoming European elections.
In the draft report, endorsed on Wednesday with 19 votes for, two against, and two abstentions, MEPs demand efforts to increase voter turnout in the 6-9 June 2024 elections, especially among mobile citizens –those living in a different member state to the one of their nationality-, and call on the Council to move quickly towards adopting the new European electoral law.
They regret that recently proposed innovations for mobile citizens will not be applied in time for next year’s elections, as well as restrictions preventing European political parties from fully participating in European election campaigns.
The report demands that democratic standards be applied when candidates are being nominated, including lead candidates for President of the European Commission. European political parties should announce their candidates for the top Commission job at least twelve weeks before election day.
MEPs also call for the new rules on political parties and foundations and political advertising –both currently under negotiation between Parliament and the Council- to be in place for the 2024 electoral campaign.
The lead candidate system in 2024
MEPs complain that the lead candidate system to elect the European Commission President was not applied in 2019 and insist that a clear and credible link between voters’ choice and this position is needed. They highlight that, based on the Treaties, this election depends on securing a majority in Parliament and call on the European Council to stop the practice of striking deals behind closed doors.
The draft report calls for an agreement between Parliament and the European Council to ensure that the lead candidates, jointly with the presidents of the European political parties and of their respective parliamentary groups, engage in negotiations immediately after the European elections to put forward a common candidate, before the European Council can make a proposal.
The lead candidate of the European political party with the most seats in Parliament should lead in the first round of negotiations, with Parliament’s President steering the process if needed. In the absence of a common candidate, the President of the European Council should engage in consultations with the political leadership mentioned above prior to putting forward a proposal.
Co-rapporteur Sven Simon (EPP, DE) commented: “Voters need clarity about how their vote affects the choice of people and policies in the Union. Unlike in 2019, we must not make promises we cannot keep. The lead candidate process needs to become credible again. Whoever is elected President of the newly formed Commission needs clear backing by voters and a majority in Parliament.”
Co-rapporteur Domènec Ruiz Devesa (S&D, ES) said: “With the adoption of this report in our committee we are paving the way for recommendations to the European political parties to strengthen the European dimension of the next European elections. We would also like to see concrete post-electoral procedures to increase the visibility of the role played by the European political parties and citizens for the election of the President of the Commission.”
The draft report is provisionally scheduled to be on the agenda at the 20-23 November plenary session in Strasbourg.
The lead candidate, or Spitzenkandidaten process, was run for the first time in 2014, and a second time in 2019, with contrasting results. The Spitzenkandidaten process is one of the measures proposed by the Conference on the Future of Europe (proposal 38.4).