The Meaning of the Recent European Union Parliamentary Elections

Spiegel Online International wrote earlier in the week about the EU’s parliamentary elections. From those elections, there could be a power shift away from the European Council, made up of the heads of the EU member nations, toward the European Parliament, made up of Members of the European Parliament elected by the citizens of the member nations.

This power shift is possible because of two things: one is that the citizens cast their votes for their MEPs based in large part on dissatisfaction with the EU leadership in what in the US would be the Executive Branch—including the European Commission President—with the proximate outcome of a large increase in the number of MEPs representing various euro-skeptic parties at the direct expense of the pro-EU parties.

The other is that these citizens, through their new MEPs, now want their say on who their next Commission President should be, and they have a clear preference. However, the Commission, the traditional determiner of the President with the EU Parliament simply rubber stamping the choice, want to retain that decision, and they want someone else.

That’s a long introduction with which to get to the point of this post. The IOS had this to say, in part, on the matter:

[I]n many countries, the vote’s outcome was more a reflection of domestic political frustrations than a broader statement on European issues.

That, though, is the nature of federations. The constituent states vote their individual interests as determined by the citizens of those states, by design, and compromises among those states’ MEP contingents occur, to be implicitly ratified or rejected by the states’ citizens in the next round of MEP elections—Adam Smith in the political world.

As long as the EU continues to not understand that simple fact, it always will be fraught with the sorts of economic and political failures it has experienced—and still is experiencing— every time there’s even a minor crisis in politics or economics.

It appears as though the misunderstanding will continue for a long and dangerous time.

It comes down to who, in the end, is responsible for choosing the next head of the Commission, a body of 33,000 employees that is in charge of proposing new legislation and monitoring compliance with EU treaties. Is it up to the voters? Or up to the governments of EU member states?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *