Empowering EU Voters (cepInput)
In a year from now, Europe will go to the polls. But how legitimate and democratic is an election in which turnout is low, no uniform binding rules apply and Spitzenkandidaten (the party nominees for President) play only a minor role? The Centres for European Policy Network (cep) calls for uniform procedures, issues and campaigns to strengthen the Parliament, and for a lowering of the voting age to 16 across the EU.
"Germany has already adopted a lower voting age. This should be brought in everywhere to guarantee equal electoral weight for all Member States and in order to involve the younger generation in decisions at an early stage and thereby discourage them from protesting," states Andrea De Petris. The cep lawyer has been sounding out possible measures for reform, together with Europe expert Stefano Milia in Rome, economist Victor Warhem in Paris and European law expert Patrick Stockebrandt in Freiburg.
The authors are sceptical about plans to allow online voting in the future. They argue that the technical and legal standards are inadequate to guarantee free, equal and secret elections throughout the EU. "Careful consideration should be given to whether the risk of possible electoral interference does not outweigh the desired benefits," Stockebrandt stresses.
The experts believe that having supranational issues and parties that take precedence over purely national interests is a more important consideration than transnational lists and the associated process of narrowing down the lead candidates. The aim should be to have a combination of transnational lists, European constituencies and lead candidates.
The cep researchers take a positive view of the idea of permanently declaring 9 May not only an election day but also a public holiday in all 27 Member States. "This could draw attention to the election, increase participation and thus give the result greater legitimacy," says Stefano Milia. In Victor Warhem's view, many French people will fear that uniform election rules could reduce the scope for national decision-making.
It has recently become increasingly apparent that, despite a greater willingness to reform on the part of EU citizens, few changes can be expected by 2024.