Politics

Punishment for governments, more independence for EU parliament

Article published on June 8, 2009
Article published on June 8, 2009
The elections have led to a protest vote against national governments. As a result, the European parliament now has more power to counteract the European council

As much of a paradox as it seems, the strengthening of the green party, voting fragmentation and the increase in eurosceptics and sovereignists in the 2009 European elections will lead to the European parliament being more independent of nationalist pressures from EU governments.

With the obvious exceptions of Poland, Italy and France, these European elections have acted as a categorical punishment for the majority of European governments, especially those formed by socialists or liberals. Clear-cut examples are the socialists in the United Kingdom or Hungary and the moderate nationalists in Ireland, who have raised important questions that threaten to bring down their governments. Other examples are not so dramatic but they represent a clear trend: the defeat of Zapatero in Spain, Sócrates in Portugal and the socialists in Austria and Bulgaria, the liberals in Denmark and the Czech Republic, the conservatives in Greece, Romania and Sweden, etc. Even the great coalition of christian democrats and social democrats in Germany has lost its pulling power against the left, the greens and the liberals.

With the possible introduction of the Lisbon treaty, legislative co-decision between the European council and the European parliament will be the norm, but it must remain clear that the council and the parliament will look after their own different interests. The European council protects the interests of each country or nation while the European parliament deals with more ideological stances relating to the interests of Europe as a whole. The fact that the makeup of the new European parliament does not resemble that of the council guarantees a greater independence for the parliament as regards interests which are exclusively national, some of which to a large extent hamper the development of official reforms that Europe requires in order to become democratic.