Chopin, Jamet, Priollaud: A Political Union of Europe

Extr. from policy paper European issues 252, Fondation Robert Schuman.


Strengthening the legitimacy and role of the European Parliament

  • Greater proportional representation would strengthen the democratic legitimacy of the European Parliament. The present composition is far from the principle of democratic equity in terms of representation: the number of MEPs per inhabitant is for example twice as high in Finland as it is in France. But since citizens all have to have the same political rights in a democratic system, their vote should also have the same weight[22]. In others words the number of inhabitants per MEP should be same in all countries (with a minimum representation however to guarantee that even the least populous Member States are represented) [23], which is an objective criteria that is hard to cri-ticise. Given the substantial increase in the powers of the European Parliament over time, enhancing the democratic legitimacy of this institution, which incidentally is the only one to be elected by direct universal suffrage, is a true stake, as the jurisprudence of the German Constitutional Court regularly points out.[24].
  • A modification like this would require a revision of article 14 §2 TEU according to the ordinary treaty revision procedure (IGC preceded by a Convention).
  • Acknowledging the European Parliament’s and Council’s joint right to legislative initiative. The “monopoly of initiative” enjoyed by the European Commission only applies to the “community pillar”. Indeed in the second (common foreign and security policy) and the third pillar (justice and internal affairs) the Member States have a joint right to initiative with the European Commission. It might be appropriate to extend this rule to the policies in the community pillar, not with the aim of res-tricting the Commission’s prerogatives, but rather to add a democratic element to the initial stage of the decision-making process. Sharing the initiative between the Commission (which would retain this prerogative), the MEPs and the governments of the EU Member States (in the shape of a joint right to initiative between these two branches of European legislative power) would be valuable for two reasons, in comparison with the system in force at present: firstly it would meet the democratic requirements that form the base of representative democracy (in which the executive and legislative bodies share the power in putting laws forward); to give the citizens the feeling that they are being heard and that their European and national representatives are able to convey their will[25]. This innovation might be presented as a complement to the citizens’ right to initiative introduced by the Lisbon Treaty.
  • A modification such as this would require a revision of the treaties (art. 225 TFEU) according to the ordinary procedure (IGC preceded by a Convention).
  • Give the European Parliament the opportunity to play a greater role in terms of supervising excessive deficits as part of a modification of article 126 TFEU. The European Parliament should in particular be able to decide by a simple majority on the launch of an excessive deficit procedure on the basis of a recommendation made by the Commission if the Council decides not to follow the Commission’s opinion.

This reform would require a modification to the treaty according to the simplified revision procedure of article 48 § 6 TEU.


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