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EP-EUI History Roundtable: The 1976 Electoral Act 40 Years On: History and significance for European democracy today

Dates:
  • Wed 07 Dec 2016 15.00 - 19.00
  Add to Calendar 2016-12-07 15:00 2016-12-07 19:00 Europe/Paris EP-EUI History Roundtable: The 1976 Electoral Act 40 Years On: History and significance for European democracy today

On 20 September 1976 the ‘Act concerning the election of the Members of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage’ entered into force. It profoundly changed the institutional posture of the European Parliament and is the founding document of a more democratic European Union. While views among scholars of European integration on the exact nature and prospects of European democracy diverge, this anniversary offered an opportunity to look back to the origins of European elections and their historical context, and to take stock of Parliament’s continuing efforts to modernise and Europeanise the EU’s electoral procedure.

Some progress has been made recently to develop the political significance of the European elections, as the 2014 Spitzenkandidaten experience has confirmed. But there are enduring disputes whether a separation-of-powers model inspired by national systems is feasible or desirable for a multi-level polity such as the European Union. Moreover, the challenge of recurring national referendums has left its imprint on public perceptions of what exactly a “democratic” EU could mean. The British people’s decision to leave the Union will reopen several institutional and constitutional debates, not least in the Parliament.

Under current conditions, the impact of the results of European elections on the EU’s policy-making agenda and on popular legitimacy remains unsatisfactory. Since 2008, in the management of the public debt crisis, a trend to favouring inter-governmental instruments, sometimes outside of the EU legal framework could be observed, weakening parliamentary scrutiny of these policies despite the fact that they clearly have a supra-national character (a situation sometimes described as “executive federalism”). As instruments of an inter-governmental nature were continuing to find the approval of many decision-makers, the roundtable discussed short-comings of the current polymorphic electoral system and prepared the ground for further steps to improve the EU’s responsiveness to external shocks in accord with citizens’ expectations and democratic norms.

A policy brief on the roundtable entitled 'EP-EUI joint roundtable : the 1976 Electoral Act 40 years on : history and significance for European democracy today' is now available in the EUI's Research Repository at the link here below.

Sala del Capitolo, Badia Fiesolana DD/MM/YYYY
  Sala del Capitolo, Badia Fiesolana

On 20 September 1976 the ‘Act concerning the election of the Members of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage’ entered into force. It profoundly changed the institutional posture of the European Parliament and is the founding document of a more democratic European Union. While views among scholars of European integration on the exact nature and prospects of European democracy diverge, this anniversary offered an opportunity to look back to the origins of European elections and their historical context, and to take stock of Parliament’s continuing efforts to modernise and Europeanise the EU’s electoral procedure.

Some progress has been made recently to develop the political significance of the European elections, as the 2014 Spitzenkandidaten experience has confirmed. But there are enduring disputes whether a separation-of-powers model inspired by national systems is feasible or desirable for a multi-level polity such as the European Union. Moreover, the challenge of recurring national referendums has left its imprint on public perceptions of what exactly a “democratic” EU could mean. The British people’s decision to leave the Union will reopen several institutional and constitutional debates, not least in the Parliament.

Under current conditions, the impact of the results of European elections on the EU’s policy-making agenda and on popular legitimacy remains unsatisfactory. Since 2008, in the management of the public debt crisis, a trend to favouring inter-governmental instruments, sometimes outside of the EU legal framework could be observed, weakening parliamentary scrutiny of these policies despite the fact that they clearly have a supra-national character (a situation sometimes described as “executive federalism”). As instruments of an inter-governmental nature were continuing to find the approval of many decision-makers, the roundtable discussed short-comings of the current polymorphic electoral system and prepared the ground for further steps to improve the EU’s responsiveness to external shocks in accord with citizens’ expectations and democratic norms.

A policy brief on the roundtable entitled 'EP-EUI joint roundtable : the 1976 Electoral Act 40 years on : history and significance for European democracy today' is now available in the EUI's Research Repository at the link here below.


Location:
Sala del Capitolo, Badia Fiesolana

Affiliation:
Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies
Department of History and Civilization

Type:
Roundtable

Contact:
Sarah Beck - Send a mail

Organiser:
Wilhelm Lehmann (European Parliament and European University Institute)

Attachment:
Programme

Links:
Policy Brief: EP-EUI joint roundtable
 
 

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Page last updated on 10 November 2016