Why does the EU matter?
Experts comment in advance of the European Elections on 26 May
The United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union (EU) and right-wing populist parties are on the rise and calling the EU’s central concepts into question. Amidst of all these challenges, the European elections will be held on 26 May 2019. Europe Day, May 9th, is meant to commemorate the same day in 1950 when the French foreign minister Robert Schuman unveiled his plan for the foundation of the European Coal and Steel Community. This plan would become the cornerstone of the EU. So why does it matter today? Three political scientists from the University of Bamberg sat down to answer this and other questions, and beginning 27 May 2019, they will also be available to answer questions concerning election results.
Why should EU citizens vote in this election?
Dr. Ariadna Ripoll Servent, Assistant Professor of European Integration: “The elections on 26 May are more important than ever. It is a chance for citizens to decide which kind of Europe they desire and whether they want extreme and populist political forces to have a say in decisions that concern all of us. The European Parliament can now decide on highly relevant topics for our future, including climate change, energy, migration and terrorism. It also shapes international policies on development and trade. A rise in populist parties in the next European Parliament could make it more difficult to reach agreements and, thereby, could harm transparency and democracy inside the only directly elected EU institution.”
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– European institutions, especially the European Parliament
– Euroscepticism and populist parties
– Decision-making processes in political institutions
– Domestic and security policy, particularly migration, borders and data protection policy
What effect is the impending Brexit having on the European elections?
Dr. Thomas Saalfeld, Chair of Comparative Politics: “There’s a great deal of uncertainty, because the government in London hasn’t yet reached an official decision on Britain’s participation in the European election. It’s likely that Great Britain will participate in the election and that candidates will have to be selected very quickly. Voters will elect a total of 73 British representatives and the recently established Brexit Party is expected to fare quite well. What’s not clear is how long the newly elected British representatives will remain members of the European Parliament. This depends on the date of the United Kingdom’s exit. Only after the actual Brexit would the European Parliament be scaled back to the planned 705 representatives. Continuing UK participation means that new British representatives would have a say in the selection of the Commission President. The expected increase in parties critical of the EU could complicate the Parliament’s legislative tasks.
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– Organisational characteristics of parliaments and political parties, parliamentary conduct
– Governing in coalitions
– Political representation: governing in the interest of the electorate
– Impact of electoral systems
Can the EU govern efficiently and democratically?
Lara Panning, Political Science research assistant for European Integration: “What a lot of citizens don’t know is that the bulk of EU legislation takes place in informal negotiations. A small group of political experts from the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission meet to broker legislative compromises. When an agreement is reached, they publicly put these results to a vote in session. Because informal doesn’t automatically mean undemocratic, we are working with Dutch, Danish and Scottish colleagues to study these complex procedures. We’re also assessing these institutions’ ability to negotiate successfully, to encourage or supress political competition and to avoid the influence of particular interest groups.”
– Informal negotiation processes at the EU level
– EU Institutions, particularly the European Commission and the European Parliament
– Rising populism and Euroscepticism