E uropean V iew
Volume 3 - Spring 2006
Wilfried Martens Editorial • Jan Peter Balkenende European Values and Transnational Cooperation as Cornerstones of Our Future European Union • Luciano Bardi EU Enlargement, European Parliament Elections and Transnational Trends in European Parties • José de Venecia The Expansion of International Party Cooperation: CDI Creating Bonds among Asian Centrist Parties • Afonso Dhalakama Political Parties in Africa as Instruments of Democracy • David Hanley Keeping it in the Family? National Parties and the Transnational Experience • Thomas Jansen The Emergence of a Transnational European Party System • Kostas Karamanlis European Parties and Their Role in Building Democracy: The Case of the Western Balkans • Ernst Kuper Towards a European Political Public: The Role of Transnational European Parties • Robert Ladrech The Promise and Reality of Euro-parties • Doris Leuthard The Swiss Referendum: A Political Model for the European Union? • Gutenberg Martínez Ocamica Party Cooperation between Continents: ODCA and a Proposal for the EPP • Annemie Neyts The Evolution and Function of the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party • John Palmer The Future of European Union Political Parties • Hans-Gert Pöttering The EPP and the EPP-ED Group: Success through Synergy • Poul Nyrup Rasmussen The Future of the Party of European Socialists • Fredrik Reinfeldt European Parties and Party Cooperation: A Personal View • Ivo Sanader Transnational Parties in Regional Cooperation: The Impact of the EPP on Central and South-East Europe • Justus Schönlau European Party Statute: Filling the Half-full Glass? • Steven Van Hecke On the Road towards Transnational Parties in Europe: Why and How the European People’s Party Was Founded • Andreas von Gehlen Two Steps to European Party Democracy • Alexis Wintoniak Uniting the Centre-right of Europe: The Result of Historical Developments and Political Leadership
A Journal of the Forum for European Studies
EUROPEAN VIEW European View is a journal of the Forum for European Studies, published by the European People’s Party. European View is a biannual publication that tackles the entire spectrum of Europe’s political, economic, social and cultural developments. European View is an open forum for academics, experts and decision-makers across Europe to debate and exchange views and ideas. EDITORIAL BOARD Chairman: Wilfried Martens, President of the European People’s Party, former Prime Minister, Belgium Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister, Sweden Elmar Brok, Member of the European Parliament, Germany John Bruton, former Prime Minister, Ireland Mário David, Member of Parliament, Portugal Vicente Martínez-Pujalte López, Member of Parliament, Spain Loyola de Palacio, former Vice-President of the European Commission, Spain Chris Patten, former Member of the European Commission, United Kingdom Jan Petersen, former Foreign Minister, Norway Hans-Gert Pöttering, Chairman of the EPP-ED Group in the European Parliament, Germany Alexander Stubb, Member of the European Parliament, Finland József Szájer, Vice-Chairman of the EPP-ED Group in the European Parliament, Hungary Andrej Umek, former Minister for Science and Technology, Slovenia Per Unckel, former Minister of Education and Science, Sweden Yannis Valinakis, Deputy Foreign Minister, Greece ADVISORY BOARD Antonio López-Istúriz, Christian Kremer, Luc Vandeputte, Kostas Sasmatzoglou, Ingrid Goossens, Guy Volckaert EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Tomi Huhtanen Assistant Editors: Galina Fomenchenko, Mélanie Dursin, Marvin DuBois, Maureen Epp, Richard Ratzlaff, John Lunn For editorial inquiries please contact: European View Editor-in-Chief Rue d’Arlon 67 1040 Brussels email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel. +32 2 285 41 49 Fax. +32 2 285 41 41 Url: www.epp-eu.org/europeanview The Forum for European Studies is a think-tank dedicated to Christian Democrat and like-minded political values, which is engaged in open, comprehensive and analytical debate. European View and its publishers assume no responsibility for facts or opinions expressed in this publication. Articles are subject to editing and final approval by the Editorial Board.
This publication is partly funded by the European Parliament.
contents • Editorial...........................................................................................................................................................................................................5 Wilfried Martens • European Values and Transnational Cooperation as Cornerstones of Our Future European Union.......................................................................................................................................................................7 Jan Peter Balkenende • EU Enlargement, European Parliament Elections and Transnational Trends in European Parties.............................................................................................................................................................................13 Luciano Bardi • The Expansion of International Party Cooperation: CDI Creating Bonds among Asian Centrist Parties. ........................................................................................................................................................................21 José de Venecia • Political Parties in Africa as Instruments of Democracy...........................................................................................31 Afonso Dhalakama • Keeping it in the Family? National Parties and the Transnational Experience....................................................................................................35 David Hanley • The Emergence of a Transnational European Party System. ..................................................................................45 Thomas Jansen • European Parties and Their Role in Building Democracy: The Case of the Western Balkans .......57 Kostas Karamanlis • Towards a European Political Public: The Role of Transnational European Parties.............................63 Ernst Kuper • The Promise and Reality of Euro-parties...............................................................................................................................73 Robert Ladrech • The Swiss Referendum: A Political Model for the European Union?...................................................................81 Doris Leuthard • Party Cooperation between Continents: ODCA and a Proposal for the EPP................................................87 Gutenberg Martínez Ocamica • The Evolution and Function of the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party..............................93 Annemie Neyts • The Future of European Union Political Parties...........................................................................................................101 John Palmer • The EPP and the EPP-ED Group: Success through Synergy..................................................................................111 Hans-Gert Pöttering • The Future of the Party of European Socialists. .............................................................................................................121 Poul Nyrup Rasmussen
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• European Parties and Party Cooperation: A Personal View.................................................................................129 Fredrik Reinfeldt • Transnational Parties in Regional Cooperation: The Impact of the EPP on Central and South-East Europe...................................................................................................................................................................135 Ivo Sanader • European Party Statute: Filling the Half-full Glass?. ..................................................................................................143 Justus Schönlau • On the Road towards Transnational Parties in Europe:Why and How the European People’s Party Was Founded........................................................................................................................................................153 Steven Van Hecke • Two Steps to European Party Democracy...........................................................................................................................161 Andreas von Gehlen • Uniting the Centre-right of Europe: The Result of Historical Developments and Political Leadership...........................................................................................................................................................................173 Alexis Wintoniak • Annex The EU regulation governing political parties at European level and the rules regarding their funding..........................................................................................................................................................................................179
Editorial By Wilfried Martens One year after the French and Dutch referenda on the European Constitution, the potent political message of its rejection continues to resound: Europe will not be shaped automatically. As long as the European Union cannot count on a greater degree of support from its citizens, it will remain a fragile edifice. Established by treaties, the institutions of the European Union cannot, by their nature, fully and flexibly respond to the challenge of this unique moment in the history of the European Union. The only way to ensure the success of our common European future is for European political leaders and their political parties to take full responsibility for this challenge and show the way forward for Europe. In order to carry out this task, the political parties at the European level have for years been developing their role, transforming themselves from umbrella organizations to dynamic actors in European politics, not only through European elections, but also in all other aspects of European political life. Today, European parties are actively engaged, at all levels, in the major institutions of the EU: the Council, Commission, Parliament, Committee of Regions, etc. For example, the European People’s Party (EPP) organises its own summit of heads of government and opposition leaders prior to each European Council summit. Such informal meetings are also taking place at the various other levels of the EU. These meetings are becoming increasingly important for European political development as the EU becomes more multidimensional and parallel political dynamics in different EU Member States need to be taken to account. But political parties can succeed in this huge task of convincing European citizens of the importance of our common European future
only if two conditions are met. First, European parties must propose valid answers in the ongoing debate on the identity, the development and the borders of the EU of the future. Second, to put those answers into action, European parties must have sufficient input into the European decision-making process; the parties must also be provided with the necessary legal and financial foundation for playing their role at the European level. In order to justify their existence, the European political parties are obliged to continuously develop alternative policies which can stimulate the unification process. It is up to us, the European politicians, to come up with a comprehensible plan for Europe’s development and deepening and also to communicate this plan clearly to the citizens of Europe. Shaping a clear vision for Europe is the common responsibility of all European parties. Most of the European level parties are committed to providing new impetus to Europe. But goodwill is not sufficient. For a political party, it is necessary to count quantitatively if it is to have sufficient weight in the current decision-making process to implement its vision: few things are possible without political parties. Transnational European parties, some of which have been in existence for many years, have gone through different stages of development. For example, the process of integrating new member parties into the EPP was essential, if highly controversial. How else was the EPP to escape marginalisation? How else would the EPP have been able to make the kind of difference it has made—I think particularly of our initiative in establishing the European Convention and the EPP’s subsequent vital participation? How else will it be able to go on making a difference, today and in the future? Volume 3 - Spring 2006
Transnational parties, by definition, have to undergo a profound debate on the matter of their core principles. For the EPP, being a select but weak club of so-called pure Christian Democrats, isolated from a separate conservative force—a situation that could only have had the effect of weakening our own position and that of the centre-right as a whole—was no real option. ‘Unity in diversity’ remained—and remains—the motto that the EPP needs to implement. Thus I fully accept the process of opening up the EPP to other traditions. This has to be managed with a measure of caution; it is necessary to maintain the identity of the EPP itself. When Europe is changing, however, European political parties need to change as well. Apart from the particular situation in which the EPP finds itself today, I am quite convinced that all political parties at the European level find themselves in a better position to exercise their huge responsibility than they were in 15 years ago. This is due primarily to the improvement of the legal and financial basis on which they can build their organisation and develop their activities. Thanks to the Regulation on European level Political Parties,1 political parties can now count on public funding. They have legal status, through obtaining legal personality in the country where they are registered. This should be considered a great step forward in building a European political space with real transnational parties. A strong impetus has been given to the Europeanisation of the democratic party system and the politicising of the European decisionmaking process.
legal. Henceforth, abuses or the improper use of public funds will be almost impossible. The work is far from finished, however, as a full fledged ‘statute’ for European level parties is not yet complete. Together with the changing European political system, the role of European parties is changing and becoming more important. European parties did play an essential role in facilitating and even managing EU enlargement; now their role has been highlighted by the challenges Europe is facing. This development is not limited to Europe. Regional cooperation between parties from different countries is growing on other continents. Global party cooperation is becoming both richer in content and greater in importance. Decisionmakers, the media and academics are showing a growing interest in the newly developing role of transnational parties. In this new context, European parties and their evolution are on the front line of a phenomenon which, I believe, may one day become an example for global political development.
Wilfried Martens is the President of the European People’s Party.
Thus the EPP has had legal personality since 2004 and receives public funds directly from the European Parliament—a minimum amount and additional funds a rato based on the percentage of votes it receives—as do all the other recognised European level parties. The system is now transparent and completely No 2004/2003 of the Council and the European Parliament of November 2003.
Jan Peter Balkenende
European Values and Transnational Cooperation as Cornerstones of Our Future European Union By Jan Peter Balkenende In a comparatively short space of time, the European Union has undergone tremendous change and has been confronted with challenges that are unique in its relatively short history. Since the turn of the millennium, the Union has expanded significantly (it now accounts for over a quarter of the world’s GNP) and made a huge success of the reunification of the European continent. It has also altered its role and position within a changing global arena, with countries like China and India on the rise and challenges ahead such as energy supply. At the same time, it has recently had to face up to terrorist attacks and growing internal differences, and it was unable to convince its citizens to take the next step towards a closer Union by accepting the proposed Constitutional Treaty. After the French and Dutch rejection of the Treaty, the Member States agreed to a period of reflection during which all these different and diverse developments could be given proper consideration, so that European citizens could be given a sound and satisfactory response. It is already clear that this response will deal with not just traditional policy-oriented, topdown political initiatives, but also a new way of ‘communicating Europe’ by giving the people a more central role in the debate. ‘The people’ have often been absent in the elitist European decision-making of the past decades. That will not be possible anymore. Far from being the end of the road, the Union’s current impasse is therefore in fact a new beginning. Some people have concluded from the French and Dutch ‘no’ votes that European
integration has come to a standstill. Personally, I don’t believe that at all. The majority of Europeans—including the ‘no’ voters—support European integration. Polls have shown that, in many areas, EU citizens want even closer cooperation than their governments are ready for—for instance, in the fight against international terrorism. There can be no doubt that, even without a Constitution, the EU will continue to exist and seek solutions that serve the interests of its own people and the rest of the world. Fortunately we are still managing to make progress on key issues, like the deal on the new financial perspectives for the next seven years and on the start of accession talks with Turkey. The European Union will emerge from this period of reflection even stronger if we have the courage to communicate more openly and honestly with each other. Our future Europe will be shaped by civil society, business, NGOs, and cultural and academic entities, not just by politicians and policymakers in Europe’s capitals and Brussels’ institutions. European values and transnational cooperation will become a central theme. Current state of affairs At the start of the twenty-first century, it is clear that the concept of partly sharing sovereignty with a supranational organisation (the European Commission), combined with upholding intergovernmental primacy in other fields, has been successful. Even the harshest critics of the EU have to concede that the seeds of peace, freedom, prosperity and stability have taken root across the European continent. In fact, despite the current political debate within the EU, the winds of change are blowing these seeds further eastward into Turkey and the Balkans.
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European Values and Transnational Cooperation as Cornerstones of Our Future European Union
More recently we have seen positive results in Ukraine and Georgia as well. You could call it the post-modern European dynamic: differences at all levels are settled at the negotiating table, not on the battlefield. We have been there and do not want to go there ever again. This principle is already endorsed by twenty-five Member States with a combined population of over 455 million—with more countries yet to come. Together they constitute not just an economic, but also a democratic space in which people can move and trade freely. For me personally, this is Europe’s greatest achievement. However, this should not lead to complacency and a passive approach to European issues. The French and Dutch ‘no’ votes were clear signals to continue and intensify our public debate on the future of Europe. Both highlighted a change in the public’s attitude towards Europe. The desire for peace and stability is no longer a convincing argument for further European integration. Sixty years is apparently such a long time that we have begun to take peace and prosperity for granted. Similar processes can, to a lesser extent, be witnessed in Central and Eastern Europe, even though the memory of oppression is still fresh. This approach is clearly no longer sufficient. Here, the Union is faced with a dilemma. In a way the EU has fallen victim to its own success: people do recognise the added value of closer European cooperation in a globalising world, but they no longer accept the way the European project is being communicated to them. A similar development can be seen in the Netherlands. Despite the result in the Dutch referendum, more than three-quarters of Dutch people still answer ‘yes’ to the question ‘do you support EU membership?’ The question for Dutch citizens seems to be not whether the European Union should continue to widen and deepen, but how this should be done. Two different debates are important here. The first centres on the very policy-oriented way political decision-makers have communicated with the public over the last few decades on European
integration matters. The ever-increasing influence of EU decision-making and legislation is recognised by the public; but the politically elitist method of reaching agreement, which has grown historically, needs to be revised in this new era: people want more public involvement and information. The other debate centres on the sharing of power and sovereignty within the Union. The European Union is not a ‘superstate’. It is based on the principle of subsidiarity. This means that decisions are taken at the closest possible level of government to the public: wherever possible at local or national level, and only at international level when the scale of the problem calls for joint action. So the European Union should not concern itself with the content of education, social security and tax policy. But it does exist to deal with state aid to businesses and environmental standards for cars. In a common market, these issues transcend national boundaries. If effective action can be taken at local or national level, the European Union does not need to be involved. It only needs to act if a transnational approach is the only solution. Member States must formulate a clear overview of the current distribution of power, including the possibility of ‘renationalising’ some parts of traditional ‘European’ policies. The relatively positive outcome of the Eurobarometer and other polls after the Dutch ‘no’ vote is one of the reasons why I’m convinced that these negative referendum results stemmed from developments beneath the surface, which had been neglected by too many decisionmakers for far too long. We have had a rude awakening, but it may have been just the wakeup call we needed. From this positive starting point, we shouldn’t blame each other or force Member States to take a specific position, but think about how we can make the most of this opportunity for reflection and reform. In the following paragraphs I would like to give an outline of my own view of where the Union currently stands.
Jan Peter Balkenende
What is at stake? At a time of rapid globalisation, in order to remain successful, nations have to act together even more intensively than before. We can only combat terrorism and international crime by joining forces. We can only secure jobs and prosperity through economic cooperation and by making rules that create the same opportunities for all. We can only avoid the dangers of climate change and rising sea levels by taking joint action. We can only tackle air and water pollution by acting together. Countries cannot solve these problems on their own: transnational challenges require transnational solutions. It is in our common interest to push Europe beyond simply the consolidation of national vested interests. We should pursue the reforms needed, display solidarity with less prosperous people both inside and outside the EU, and listen better and communicate more transparently with our citizens. The Union should do so along two lines. The EU must intensify and improve its implementation of the policies that will guide us through the coming decades. These are policies in the areas of research, innovation, international environmental issues, immigration, energy (supply and security) and the fight against transnational crime—indeed, all policy areas that stem from a globalising world and that, by their very nature, call for a transnational approach. However, this policy-oriented approach is at best only part of the solution, if not part of the problem. I’m fully convinced that the current debate on the future of Europe goes deeper. The European Union’s tremendous economic growth has made it possible to spread prosperity and stability to the new Member States. At the same time it has led to an increase in cultural, political and social diversity. As this diversity has grown, it has weakened people’s sense of belonging to a larger whole. The last few decades have been a time of spectacular growth
for the EU, from six Member States to twentyfive. But how many Dutchmen or Britons could find Slovenia on a map? And what percentage of Slovaks know where Belgium is? Moreover, immigrants now make up 10% of the Dutch population. In the cities, half of all young people are the children of newcomers. We see the same ethnic and cultural diversity in France, Belgium, Germany, the Baltic States and elsewhere. In other words, people don’t feel European. Europe is perceived as an abstract construct, as being distant and not representing the wishes of the people. Diversity is a good thing; it enriches society. However, it has a downside as well: it can lead to uncertainty and conflicting ideas. Sometimes it even leads to distrust and, as we have sadly witnessed, to violence. It’s not just the diversity of countries within the Union that has grown. Diversity within the Member States themselves has also increased dramatically. As I said at the Collège d’Europe in Bruges in April last year, our challenge now is not preventing countries from drifting apart, but preventing people from drifting apart. It is interesting to note that one of the EU’s founding fathers, Jean Monnet, mentioned this important element of successful integration. He understood two things quite clearly. First, peace demands our constant attention, even in times of peace and prosperity. For this idea Monnet is often quoted and praised. However, he put forward a second very important element as well: conflicts and violence can only be resolved if nations move beyond nationalism. Lasting peace only has a chance if Member States and nations are willing and able to cooperate and build something that stands above borders: transnational cooperation as a cornerstone for lasting European integration. His words are as true today as they were half a century ago. There is also another factor in the mix. My generation—the baby boom generation—grew up with an image of Europe as an economic enterprise: a business partnership. Far less
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European Values and Transnational Cooperation as Cornerstones of Our Future European Union
was said about the other side of European integration: Europe as a political project designed to preserve common values and put them into practice. A rapidly expanding Union, increasing diversity and an image of Europe as an economic enterprise: these three factors have helped weaken people’s sense of commitment to the European project. We run the risk of ending up with a European house that looks strong from the outside, but is crumbling on the inside. During the Dutch EU Presidency in 2004, we drew attention to European values and what they meant for our future. The Netherlands organised a series of international conferences where this theme was debated by a range of thinkers from around the world. There was general agreement that, even on this diverse continent, certain values bind us together. Freedom, respect for human rights and the rule of law, solidarity and equality—these values are universal. And it is precisely these values that make it possible to live in a Europe that encompasses so many differences. A number of guidelines for action emerged from the conferences: • European governments and the European Union must take a firm stand against any individuals or groups who attack our rights and the values on which they are based. • We must strengthen the vital role of education in transmitting values and improve mobility in Europe. People, ideas and knowledge are still not circulating enough. • There is still an urgent need to ‘communicate Europe’ to our citizens. All these issues are currently high on the European agenda. I would like to present a general overarching approach as a basis for our joint actions in the future. From unity in diversity towards diversity within unity? The former Polish foreign minister and current member of the European Parliament Bronislaw Geremek once said, “We have Europe. Now we 10
need Europeans.” We have learned that this takes time. One cannot expect 450 million Europeans in 25 different countries with over 20 different languages to feel closely connected with one another. What’s more, many people are afraid that the Union has too much influence over their daily lives. Many have difficulty identifying with an expanding European Union, the euro and potential new Member States. These factors may well undermine the European Union from within. That is why we Europeans should continue to give careful thought to what binds us. We should be able to have an EU-wide debate on the core values of European integration. These core European values are at the foundation of everything we do in Europe—from our security strategy to the Lisbon agenda. If we don’t make those values explicit, how can we expect people to get excited about Europe? We should think of values as our inspiration. If we don’t talk about our common inspiration, we will never be able to act boldly on the major issues of our time: security, sustainable economic growth and the integration of newcomers. And we will never feel European! People don’t get enthusiastic about complex explanations on interinstitutional agreements by politicians. People don’t start to feel European because European decision-makers tell them to. People want to be inspired by new concepts of cooperation. People demand European solutions to transboundary problems. People want European political leadership. Where do we go from here? How do we put this new dynamism into daily practice? The maxim of the European Union is “unity in diversity”. This implies that Europeans are united in working together for peace and prosperity despite their many different cultures, traditions and languages. The scholar Amitai Etzioni, whose ideas I agree with firmly, compares it to a mosaic, with many different colours within a single frame. This framework consists of shared core values. Values are an element that binds. Values are guidelines, which must not be taken for granted. Democracy, freedom, solidarity, respect, equity and tolerance are at the heart
Jan Peter Balkenende
of my view of our future Europe: a European society with peacefully coexisting minorities sharing a common set of core values. In other words, to uphold these common values, we need to invest in serious community building. We have to actively translate these values into concrete proposals and actions. These proposals and actions will create the necessary equilibrium. The EU should make ‘diversity within unity’ the central theme of its communication strategy for EU citizens. We will only see a coherent and unified Europe in the twenty-first century if all concerned—politicians, companies, NGOs, civil society and academics—invest in and endorse European values. As Etzioni has said, if the EU is not to deteriorate into little more than a free trade zone, serious community-building measures are essential. These measures would aim ultimately at ordinary people transferring to the European community and to their region more of the kind of commitment, loyalty and sense of identity they now attach to their nation. Until this is done, the current structure will not be able carry the heavy loads being imposed on it.1
have partly shifted their focus to the regional, transboundary level. National boundaries are tending to fade, and European concepts are considered to be at least one step too far. This development has influenced both national and European political parties. A perfect example: the committee that will write the CDA election programme for next year’s national elections no longer consists solely of Dutch Christian Democrats. We take great pride in the fact that Mr Peter Altmaier of the German CDU will actively take part in the drafting process and is a full member of our election committee. It’s just an example, but to my mind a highly revealing one. This is the way forward in Europe: shared values within transnational groupings, based on core values shared by other minorities, all accepting European values as their common basis.
Jan Peter Balkenende is the Prime Minister of the Netherlands.
This is where transnational cooperation comes into play. European citizens are increasingly being confronted with transnational developments. Transboundary cooperation in a growing number of policy areas can be seen. European integration has enabled people to cross internal borders extensively. However, their values don’t change when they cross the border. European citizens seek a new kind of representation that coincides with their interests and demands. National parties no longer have a monopoly, or the authority to act as the sole source of representation. On the other hand, people don’t feel European yet. European political parties are still considered distant— notwithstanding the excellent work of our European People’s Party in and outside the European Parliament. In other words, people
Amitai Etzioni, “How to build a European Community”, U.S.-Europe Analysis Series, July 2005.
Volume 3 - Spring 2006
EU Enlargement, European Parliament Elections and Transnational Trends in European Parties By Luciano Bardi This article aims to assess the impact that the direct elections to the European Parliament (EP) have had on the development of genuine European, transnational political parties (Europarties henceforth). Our focus on Europarties is justified by the fact that they have been considered important actors in the European Community’s (EC) and subsequently in the European Union’s (EU) development; this has been true at least since Ernst Haas suggested that the growth of Europarties provides an essential analytical focus for an assessment of the EU’s political system.1 Especially since the EP’s first elections based on universal suffrage were held in 1979, scholarly interest in the development and potential role of EU-specific parties has been conspicuous. Academic books and articles on the topic are too numerous to be individually discussed here. On balance, however, we can affirm that most have found a positive association between EP elections based on universal suffrage and the development of Europarties. Such views are often based on the simple consideration that elections are the necessary prerequisite for the development of a democratic system and, consequently, also of the elements, such as political parties, that are essential components of democratic systems. As a result, most authors do not elaborate on the desirable characteristics of would-be Europarties; others limit themselves to considering the EP party groups, that is, the party structures directly and visibly produced by EP elections. This certainly is an important limitation that has led to the neglect
to date of other important party components, such as central and territorial organisational structures. Especially the latter are completely absent from the Europarty literature, not only in empirical analyses (which is hardly a surprise, given that such structures are non-existent), but also in more prescriptive works. In this case the omission is more serious, if it is accepted that Europarties should be a link between European citizens and EU institutions. Transnational federations are undoubtedly very weak institutions in terms of visibility, number of members, professionalisation and financial resources. Far more than the parliamentary groups, the transnational federations have suffered from the need to respect the specificities and objectives of their national components. Within the two largest federations, the European People’s Party (EPP) and the Party of European Socialists (PES), the national components often seem to be concerned about justifying their actions at the national level. This limits their ability to act decisively at the European level. The important role played by federations, above all in working out common positions at intergovernmental conferences, has overshadowed their growing internal differences. Their lack of cohesion is due to the ever-larger number of delegations of which they are composed, the result of successive EU enlargements and the extension of membership to parties of diverse traditions. This is particularly true of the EPP, which has added a large conservative component to its original ChristianDemocratic nucleus. The European Liberals, Democrats and Reformists (ELDR), now the group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats
E. B. Haas, The Uniting of Europe: Political, Social and Economical Forces 1950–1957 (London: Stevens & Sons, 1958).
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EU Enlargement, European Parliament Elections and Transnational Trends in European Parties
for Europe (ALDE), have also had problems of cohesion as a result of diverse ideological orientations and the general weakness of their national components. For the GreensEFA, on the other hand, the widespread antibureaucratic attitude and the clear preference for decentralised, more grassroots decision-making of many of its delegations have translated into an evident reluctance to create a full-fledged transnational party organisation. This has made it easier for the Green federation to maintain a pan-European nature, that is, its openness to Green parties in countries outside the EU. More generally, however, the difficult growth of transnational federations can be explained by the lack of a ‘demand for Europe’ from the base. Aware of this, the national parties that make up the basic components of the federations find it more productive to represent their electorate directly through representatives at the European level (ministers) than to strengthen the federations. At the moment, this is the main obstacle to the rise of Europarties able to carry out effectively the representative function at the European level. When the focus is on EP party groups as a whole, however, the general impression one gets from the literature is a positive one. Since the direct elections, we have witnessed the strengthening of EP party groups, which appear to be more lasting and more inclusive than their pre-elections predecessors; this is taken to indicate that direct elections have been good for Europarty development. Here, consistent with a research focus that I have been following for several years, I will present a slightly different view, which takes into account the discontinuities that EP elections may cause in Europarty institutionalisation. I will also try to extend my analysis, albeit briefly, to the extraparliamentary components of Europarties.
EP elections are a necessary prerequisite, but they are certainly not sufficient for Europarty development, that is, for their effective transnationalisation; moreover, in some circumstances, they can also disrupt the process of Europarty institutionalisation. There is agreement in the literature, albeit sometimes only implicit, that the institutionalisation of the Europarty system requires very stable, inclusive and cohesive EP party groups; that is, EP party groups exhibiting a durable composition and structure, capable of attracting the largest possible number of national party delegations from individual Member States and displaying a homogeneous ideological orientation and voting behaviour. There is evidence that EP party groups have proven capable of great progress in response to the incentives (material resources as well as better positions in parliamentary committees and other components of the EP) provided for their formation and functioning.2 Positive trends in the consolidation of EP party groups have indeed been observed in the course of the first five terms following direct elections to the EP, but the process of party group consolidation seems to have also suffered interruptions and even reversals resulting from EP elections results.3 There are several possible explanations for these reversals. For one thing, the fragmentation of the electoral arena permits the survival at the European level of practically every relevant—and sometimes even not so relevant—component of most national party systems. This makes the EU party system very sensitive to individual national party system realignments and to Member State specific voter opinion trends. Moreover, the very high proportionality of many of the 25 electoral laws contributes to this phenomenon. Even parties with negligible support on an EU-
F. Attinà, ‘The voting behaviour of European Parliament members and the problem of the Europarties’, European Journal of Political Research, 29 (17), 1990, pp. 557–79; F. Jacobs, R. Corbett & M. Shackleton, The European Parliament, 5th ed. (London: Cartermill, 2003); T. Raunio, The European Perspective: Transnational Party Groups in the 1989-1994 European Parliament (Aldershot: Ashgate, 1997). 3 See L. Bardi, ‘Parties and party systems in the European Union’, in K.R. Luther & F. Mueller-Rommel (Eds.), Political Parties in a Changing Europe: Political and Analytical Challenges (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002) pp. 292–322. 2
wide level can obtain seats in the EP because of the over-representation of the smaller Member States. Second, the continuing expansion of the EU can be either a positive or a negative factor for Europarty evolution. Previously isolated national delegations may find allies to form a party group among the representatives of newly incorporated Member States. But the incorporation of new delegations into existing party groups can prove to be problematic. In some cases, EP elections can be very disruptive, especially for the more recent and smaller EP party groups; as a result, elections can be a negative factor in party system consolidation. On balance, however, these two sets of factors, which have their effects during the parliamentary term as well as at election time and both favour and potentially hinder Europarty development, have produced an overall positive trend in EP party group consolidation. In the last two years, the general context in which Europarties are developing has undergone some significant changes. With the sixth direct elections to the EP held in June 2004, the effects of the latest EU enlargement from 15 to 25 countries came to bear on the EP and on the Europarty system. The 732 member strong EP now represents approximately 455 million European citizens whose cultural and political milieus reflect unprecedented diversity. As a result, it was anticipated that the disturbances to the party system normally associated with elections would be even greater than in the past. Furthermore, although the implications of this were contested, Europarties were for the first time regulated by a new statute defining their role and organisation, even outside of the EP.4 It is expected that the new statute, perhaps
for the first time, will give a strong impetus to the development of the extra-parliamentary organisational structures of the Europarties. EU Enlargement and the 2004 elections As we had anticipated, the 2004 elections were an unprecedented event in the history of the Europarty system in terms of the sheer numerical impact of the delegations from the new Member States on the existing party groups, and also because of what we could broadly define as qualitative differences between the newcomers and the longer-established parties from the older Member States. Both factors could have an impact on Europarty development. Whilst we can only speculate on the consequences of the latter, we are able to study empirically the effects of the former. We know from the literature that the institutional development of EP party groups can be assessed by monitoring their inclusiveness and cohesion. The inclusiveness of the groups in the EP can be observed from diachronic changes in group membership and, more specifically, from trends in the number of members and number of countries represented. The cohesion of the groups, on the other hand, can be observed from the degree of agreement shown in rollcall votes by the MEPs composing the groups. Empirical studies of these phenomena have cumulatively produced a positive assessment of EP group institutionalisation.5 Here we will perforce limit ourselves to updating the analysis of inclusiveness as it is too early in the term to collect sufficient data for an assessment of cohesion. We will also consider, through an analysis of appropriate indicators, the impact of the 2004 elections on the Europarty system.
Statute for European political parties, EP and Council regulation No 2004/2003, 4 November 2003. For a summary of these results, see L. Bardi, â€˜Parties and party systems in the European Unionâ€™ (see n. 3).
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TABLE 1 Europarty system indicators 1979–2006
No EP party groups*
% of nonattached MEPs or in One-Party Groups****
PES, EPP-ED, ELDR/ALDE Total Seat percentage
EP I 1979–1984
EP II 1984–1989
EP III 1989–1994
EP IV 1994–1999
EP V 1999–2004
EP VI 2004–2006
Adapted from (Bardi, 2002). The last update reflects EP composition in March 2006. Note: For EP I – EP V, the first figure in each cell refers to the beginning and the second to the end of the relevant term. * Non-attached counted as one group 1 ** N = ------- where si represents the seat shares of the i parties in the system ∑ si2 (Laakso and Taagepera, 1979). *** In 1994–1999 the non-attached AN and FN delegations are included as individual one-party groups. In EP V no non-attached delegations had enough members (10) to qualify as one-party groups. **** Includes non-attached MEPs.
TABLE 2 Number of Member States represented in the five largest EP party groups 1979–2004
EP official sources 16
The groups connected to the three historic transnational federations—the PES, EPP-ED and the ELDR/ALDE—certainly represent the core of the Europarty system; their overall inclusiveness must be considered a positive indicator of its institutionalisation. The figures in Table 1 clearly show the ability of these groups to absorb the national party delegations from old and new Member States, even as they more than tribled (from 54 to 169) between 1979 and 2004. Above and beyond the absolute number of MEPs belonging to the three groups, of significance is the percentage with respect to the total number of MEPs: close to 76%. Table 2 shows that the EPP-ED has MEPs from all Member States, while the PES and the ELDR/ ALDE, penalised in some countries by electoral thresholds that they find difficult to surpass, are represented in 23 and 20 respectively of the 25 Member States. These figures also indicate an overall positive trend towards inclusiveness. The Greens-EFA and the EUL/NGL have grown out of two groups that have a long history in the EP, the Rainbow group and the Communists. They have gone through innumerable changes and in some cases real transformations. In general, they include fewer national components than transnational groups. Nonetheless, the figures relative to these groups in Table 2 point to reassuring levels of inclusiveness. Table 1 also provides data for a discussion of the evolution of the Europarty system. The table includes values for five measures of EU party system institutionalisation. The operationalisation of the number of parties and groups is selfexplanatory. One-party group scores and the percentage of MEPs not belonging to transnational or multi-party groups, that is, one-party group members plus the non-attached, are included in the table as a measure of overall MEP resistance to Europarty incorporation. Conversely, total seat percentages for the three transnationalparty groups are included to monitor the size of the Europarty system’s core. Finally, Laakso’s index for the effective number of parties once the total number of parties is known adequately measures the relative size of parties.
A general indication emerging from the data is that the Europarty system is on the path to consolidation. Despite the large number of national parties that obtain representation in the EP, the number of EP party groups has remained fairly stable. In fact, the party/EP-group ratio has risen constantly over the years: 21.1:1 in 2004, as compared to a low of 6.8:1 in 1979. The party groups are thus demonstrating the ability to incorporate new parties. The Europarty core has grown, even if not dramatically, from slightly under two thirds to just above three quarters of the EP’s total membership. At the same time, the relative weight of the larger party groups has increased, as demonstrated by the effective parties indicator, which declined markedly between 1984 and 2004. The disappearance of one-party groups and the impressive decline since 1979 in the percentage of MEPs that belong to one-party groups or are non-attached confirm this impression. Within this fairly clearcut picture, a contrast can be observed between the values immediately following an election and those registered at the end of each term. Generally, all party-system institutionalisation indicators are much more positive at the end of each term than at its beginning. Overall, these findings, based on post-election and end-of-term data for the first five elected EPs and only post-election results for the sixth, confirm the research hypotheses suggested by the literature. The hypothesis that institutional and political pressures in the course of the legislative term favour inter-group cooperation and eventually foster group integration is indeed consistent with the data. At the same time, the hypothesis that elections can produce very disruptive effects on the Europarty system appears to be confirmed, although recent elections show a possible reversal in this trend. Finally, single-party groups—for as long as they have existed—have represented a real obstacle to the institutionalisation of the Europarty system, as have the non-attached MEPs. They could reemerge in the future, but it is more likely that the category will become permanently extinct, even though a residual group of non-integrated national party delegations will probably survive among the non-attached. Volume 3 - Spring 2006
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It would thus seem that the 2004 elections have not had a measurable negative impact on the Europarty system. The quantitative measurements of a number of indicators are in line with those of previous parliaments, when EU membership was much smaller. It might be too soon, however, to discount the possible qualitative effects of enlargement. The majority of the countries involved had to simultaneously convert to democracy, develop capitalist and pluralist societies, adopt full national sovereignty and meet EU conditions within a relatively short period of time. From this perspective, the efforts of Europarties to proactively bring the political forces of future Member States into the European mainstream had important implications both for themselves and for party and party-system development in the candidate countries.
or at least maintain their numerical force in the enlarged EP and, as we shall see in our discussion of the new statute, a source of possible financial advantage. In the 2004–09 parliament, the new entries account for 158 out of the 732 seats or almost 22% of the total—a percentage that no Europarty can afford to ignore.
Paradoxically, the success that Europarties have demonstrated in attracting the overwhelming majority of the new national party delegations might cause a further weakening of their identity and cohesiveness. It is still unclear, in fact, whether such efforts have been able to overcome the cultural and value differences articulated in the parties and party systems of the new, developing Member States. These may well spill over into broader EU political processes with unpredictable effects on Europarty development.
The statute’s provisions may well be able to consolidate more effectively than has been the case up to now the various party components operating at the European level: transnational federations, parliamentary groups and national parties. In fact, even if the statute practically identifies Europarties with federations, the provisions for their constitutions and for their access to financing link them with the other two components. The preamble reiterates the wording of Article 191 TEC on the importance of Europarties in shaping a European consciousness and for expressing the political will of EU citizens.
EU enlargement, the Statute governing European political parties and Europarty federations Whatever its effects on EP party groups, EU enlargement may lead to a strengthening of the party federations.6 Because of the EU’s size following the entry of the ten new members, the federations may find new incentives and opportunities for action. In fact, the federations see the inclusion of the parties coming from the new member countries as a way to strengthen
The statute for European political parties, approved in November 2003, is a concise document that defines the role of European political parties and the requirements for receiving funding from the European Union. Much space is dedicated to the aspects directly linked to financing, perhaps because the statute was in part justified by the need to use public funds to promote democracy in the new member countries.
The requirements for the recognition of Europarties, in addition to a desire to participate in the EP elections, are the following: legal status in the country in which the Europarty has its headquarters (almost inevitably Belgium); representatives elected to the EP, the national or the regional parliaments in at least one quarter of the member countries or at least 3% of the votes in the last EP elections in at least one quarter of the Member States;7 and respect shown in the
Bardi and Ignazi, Il parlamento europeo, 2nd ed. (Bologna: Il Mulino, 2004) pp. 126-8. This clause, and the fact that the total financing also depends on the party’s size, constitutes an incentive for Europarties to attract kindred parties from new Member States.
party’s platform and actions for the principles of freedom and democracy, respect for human rights, the fundamental freedoms and the rule of law on which the EU is founded. These are not particularly restrictive conditions and, even if the statute prohibits the financing of national parties with European funds, few will renounce the financial opportunities offered by the new regime. This has already led to an increase in the number of Europarties. The Party of the European United Left was founded in Rome in May 2004; others could follow suit. That such a large share of resources—85% of the total—is allotted to parties with representatives elected to the EP should lead to the consolidation of links to parliamentary groups. Greater integration of the various components should foster greater institutionalisation. This undoubtedly positive picture is counterbalanced by two provisions, one contained directly in the statute, the other in its implementation rules, which keep the federations in a subordinate position with respect to their national components and the parliamentary groups. In fact, the latter have been made directly responsible for the management of the funds for party financing. This was done at the insistence of the EP since the funds are taken from the budget of the EP rather than that of the EU, as the federations would have preferred (this would have given them greater financial autonomy). Furthermore, the provision of the statute that makes the allocation of public funds conditional on 25% co-financing from other sources makes national parties, above all the stronger and richer ones, decisive in constituting and maintaining Europarties. These resources can only be found at the national level, either directly through contributions from member parties—up to a ceiling of 40% of the total, which is in any case more than the amount needed for co-financing— or through the party’s contacts among the public and in the business sector. These are in general very weak, a situation not likely to improve in the near future. The biggest shortcoming of the
statute is that it does not address the issue of how to effectively link Europarties to European citizens and their societies, beyond the general statement that such linkage is the main reason for the existence of the federations. This function is still performed exclusively through the national parties, who therefore remain the principal gatekeepers of EU-level representation. It is therefore unlikely that the federations, even if more integrated, will play a primary role in the Europarties in the near future. In conclusion, both EU enlargement and the statute for European political parties seem to favour a further expansion of Europarties and of the number of transnational federations. While this would be a positive outcome, fostering greater integration among the various components of the Europarties, it is unlikely that this would challenge the primacy and reduce significantly the autonomy of national political parties, even at the European level. This is destined to be the state of affairs as long as national parties are able to reap the rewards of the direct representation of the interests of citizens through the intergovernmental institutional circuit and to take the place of federations in linking civil society to European institutions.
Luciano Bardi is Professor of Political Science at the University of Pisa. He is the author of several articles on European Parties. Recently he has been co-author of ‘Il parlamento europeo’ (2004) and editor of ‘Partiti e sistemi di partito’ (2006).
Volume 3 - Spring 2006
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The Expansion of International Party Cooperation: CDI Creating Bonds among Asian Centrist Parties By José de Venecia The world’s centre of gravity is shifting to the Asia Pacific. The Centrist Democrat International (CDI) is expanding into Asia because it recognises the continent’s increasing prominence in the global community. The end of the ‘Cold War’ has not just seen a seismic shift in the configuration of global political power; it has also seen a revolutionary change in the global economy. The emergence of China, India, Russia, Brazil and other onceclosed economies has redrawn the map of world trade. These emerging economies are radically changing the relative prices of labour, capital, goods and assets around the globe. And because the largest of them are Asian, they are also shifting the world’s centre of economic and political gravity from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific. Since early 2005, Asia has produced a full third of the gross global product. In Asia today are to be found both the fastest growing economies and the rising powers of our time. Well before 2040, China is likely to become the largest economy and India the third largest, after that of the United States. Japan should then be fifth, after the European Union. Moreover, today’s Asia has become the focal point of humanity’s fears of nuclear war and its hopes for a hundred years of peace. Asia’s first transnational party In January 2006, eight political parties from seven Asian states met in Manila to launch the Asia Pacific’s first centrist transnational party, whose eventual goal is to organise Asian solidarity. Among the CDI Asia-Pacific’s founding parties are the nationalist icons of Asia’s struggle for independence, represented initially by Pakistan’s
Muslim League. Alongside these historic parties there are also young parties—South Korea’s Uri Party, Thailand’s Thai Rak Thai and our own Lakas Christian-Muslim Democrats—which are as new as Asia’s eminence in the global community. The other political parties are: UMNO of Malaysia; Funcinpec and the Cambodia People’s Party, Cambodia; and the Party of the People’s Unity of Kazakhstan. On this occasion, I think it fit and proper for our grouping to explain its motives, purposes and ideals as forces of the middle and to proclaim the political principles that have brought us together. Twelve political principles At the CDI Asia-Pacific and the CDI Executive Committee meetings in Manila last January, I unveiled 12 major political principles that encompass initiatives through which the CDI’s Asian parties and 110 political parties worldwide can hopefully make some significant contributions to Asia and the world. I reiterate these 12 principles, which I hope the centrist political parties will address in addition to their existing programs and platforms: 1. find common ground between the forces of capitalism and the forces of socialism; 2. reconcile the forces of extremism and excessive fundamentalism with the forces of moderation as an antidote to terrorism; 3. reach out to the forces of the Extreme Left and the Extreme Right; 4. bridge the social and income gaps between the rich and poor by creating an Asian middle class and ensuring opportunities for all; 5. reconcile the principles of politics with the principles of religion—the role of the Volume 3 - Spring 2006
The Expansion of International Party Cooperation: CDI Creating Bonds among Asian Centrist Parties
state and the role of the Church must be delineated; reconcile the forces of spirituality with the forces of secularism; public life can be empty without a moral purpose, and society can be rootless without some transcendent foundation; rationalise relations between strong central governments, distant provinces and outer islands in the case of nations with pluralist and multi-ethnic societies; rationalise the needs of development with the need to care for the environment; bring together the great religions, great civilisations and great cultures to avert a clash of religions and a clash of civilisations through Interfaith dialogues; reconcile the forces of nationalism with the forces of globalisation; rationalise the workings of the market with the social responsibilities of the state; and build strong family values and faith in a living God to mirror the great Asian and CDI community we envision.
Democracy must work for ordinary people As centrist political parties, we see our role as that of helping to broaden and deepen Asian democracy. We reject every type of extremist politics, whether on the Right or on the Left. We are acutely aware that unrestrained zeal to make the world better could make it worse. And we accept that we cannot be for democracy only when the majority rule works in our favour. We believe that it is through mutual tolerance, conciliation and compromise that the business of government is carried out, civic order maintained and the common purpose served. And we believe democracy to be more than just a set of procedures for holding elections and passing laws. We regard democracy as a whole system of political and social values. Procedural democracy and formal entitlements for citizens are a beginning. But they are not enough. We believe authentic democracy to be possible only
in a state ruled by law. And we see our central task as making democracy in Asia work for ordinary people—by serving their needs, wants and hopes. Defeating the forces of extremism The historian Eric Hobsbawm has described the period in which we live as “The Age of Extremes”. And it is true that the twentieth century was one of both great creativity and great destructiveness. The past hundred years have raised great hopes, but they have also destroyed many illusions and ideals. We in the CDI Asia-Pacific do not see ourselves as living in a world of binary opposites: in a world of mutually exclusive alternatives. On the contrary, we believe that our work is to confront the forces of extremism with the forces of moderation. There are two main extremist positions in our time. One is that of those who would use terrorism in the name of religion. And the other is held by those who would defeat terrorism even if it means deploying arbitrary police powers, curtailing the civil liberties of their own people and even waging pre-emptive war. The harsh response by Western powers to the terrorist threat has helped create this frightening world we now find ourselves living in. Terror: a true crime against humanity We regard the use of terror for political and military means as a true crime against humanity—and terrorism as a barbaric act that no appeal to religion can ever justify. But we agree with Pope John Paul II that the culpability of terrorists is always personal—and cannot be extended to the nation, ethnic group or religion to which the terrorists may belong. We further believe that, while injustices existing in the world can never be used to excuse acts of terrorism, the anti-terrorist coalition is also duty-bound to alleviate the poverty, oppression
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and marginalisation of peoples which facilitate terrorist recruitment. We condemn just as strongly every arbitrary means that governments resort to in their counter-terrorist campaigns, just as we condemn every form of discrimination and prejudice against minority and migrant populations.
with basic human needs. And because no single policy will spur development, the effort to grow needs a comprehensive approach. Development must be both socially inclusive and flexible enough to adapt to changing circumstances. Making poverty history
Reconciling the ‘two nations’
Development must focus on basic human needs
Since the eighteenth century, social reformers— inspired by scientific progress, the political revolutions in Europe and the promise of the new international economy—have believed it possible to protect people against the hazards of poverty and insecurity. But until now, the spectre of widespread want still haunts our countries. Over these past 250 years, parts of the world have so improved their material conditions that they find it hard to imagine the poverty in which so many of their fellows still live. Yet even now, one-quarter of all the people in the world still subsist on less than the equivalent of one American dollar a day. What is worse is that some countries are growing even poorer— relatively, and sometimes absolutely. Yet given the revolution in information and communication technology, it has also become more and more difficult to segregate poverty and wealth—to prevent the poor from realizing the possibilities of modernisation. Thus, in the end, the peace and prosperity of the rich depend on the wellbeing of all the poor.
We recognise that, as Asia’s economies mature, governments must begin to make key development policies with more sophistication, and accuracy, than those based on the traditional measures of GDP growth and a rise in individual incomes. We regard the task of reducing poverty as a moral challenge to political leaderships in the developing countries. Hence, we recognise that our basic task must be to make our economies grow, so that they can lift up the common life. Because growth trickles down too slowly, the state’s efforts at development must deal directly
To remove poverty from among us, our overriding concern must be to make the economy grow. Nowadays the poor benefit from growth just as much as everyone else because economies have changed in ways that allow them to participate more fully during times of growth. Our national parties must help keep the Asia Pacific focused on development. Between 1990 and 2002, more than 280 million East Asians—a number equivalent to the entire population of the United States—pulled themselves out of extreme poverty: 233 million in China alone and 48 million in Southeast Asia.
We believe that our urgent need is to bridge the income and social gap between the rich and the poor in national society—and between the rich and poor countries in the international community. In Asia, Latin America and Africa, the ‘Privileged’ and the ‘People’ are still culturally as well as economically separate. Yet development, if it is to be meaningful, should leave no one behind. We of the Asia Pacific must also speak out for fair global trade. We must oppose every form of discrimination against migrant groups as well as minority religions and ethnicities in hybrid societies made up of a plurality of populations. And we must do all we can to prevent the collapse of weak states in the Third World, for failed states will export their rage, their violence and their plagues to the rest of global society.
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Practical programs for the alleviation of poverty We believe that, in our interdependent world, the peace and prosperity of the rich depend on the well-being of all the others. For this reason we endorse the proposal for a Debt-forEquity Program that the Philippines has made to the United Nations, the rich countries and the international lending agencies. The UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, gave this proposal his endorsement as an imaginative approach to fighting poverty, and the Italian government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was one of the G8 powers to give it immediate support. During a visit to Washington, DC in mid-September last year, I gave senior officials of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund separate extensive briefings on the details of the Program. The Program calls for the creditor-countries to plough back into the economies of the debtorcountries, over an agreed period, fifty percent of the debt-service payments they receive in national anti-poverty projects in accordance with the UN’s Millennium Development Goals. These payments would be ploughed back—either as equity or social investments—in reforestation, mass-housing, safe water systems, hospitals, school-buildings, infrastructure, micro-financing and other anti-poverty programs. This proposal we endorse as a complement to the agreement by the G8 countries to write off multilateral debt owed by the 20 poorest countries, mostly in Africa. We also endorse the proposal for an Asian AntiPoverty Fund and an Asian Monetary Fund made by Cambodia and the Philippines. The AntiPoverty Fund will back up the micro-banks that lend working capital to Asia’s entrepreneurial poor. The Asian Monetary Fund will come to the aid of Asian countries in crisis—faster and more substantially than the World Bank-IMF was able to do for Thailand and Indonesia in 1997.
Fair global trade The poor countries’ proportionate share of global trade has been declining, partly because of continuing protectionism in the rich economies. Yet an end to unfair trade practices, particularly in agriculture, by the rich countries could lift millions of the world’s poorest peoples out of destitution. It would also strengthen the rulesbased multilateral trading system if the rich countries would give up the subsidies they pay their farmers. This year these subsidies run to some one billion dollars a day; and they are, in reality, paid not by rich-country treasuries, but by the farmers of poor countries, in the form of lower prices for their products. Finding common ground between capitalism and socialism To establish the political and social stability that we need to pursue our goal of eliminating poverty and building up our middle classes, we need to find common ground between the forces of socialism and the forces of capitalism. We must seek ways to bring personal interest and the interests of the national community into harmony. We must find common ground between market forces and the social responsibilities of the state. Capitalism triumphant The fall of Communism and the failure of state management of the economy have left capitalism as the remaining political-economic ideology. The failed Marxist experiment proved conclusively that the private and the individual cannot be banished altogether from human life. Capitalism has been better able to adapt to changing reality, and to deliver a measure of political stability as well as material prosperity. Free enterprise has come a long way since a nineteenth-century British Cabinet debated whether it was right to restrict the import of
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beef known to be infected with foot-and-mouth disease. Governments in capitalist countries now routinely intervene in the economy: through macro-economic policy to prevent capitalism’s cycles of boom and bust, and through social legislation to mitigate the human costs of its natural drive to maximise returns. Interventionism under socialist governments had been even more ambitious. It was guided by the principle that the more complicated society becomes, the more it requires central organisation to avoid falling into chaos. But in the wake of the collapse of Communist regimes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, few people still subscribe to the concept of the state as the administrator of all society. As the Austrian political economist F.A. Hayek observed, “It was the fatal conceit of socialism to believe that wise government bureaucrats could guide society to a better future.” The European concept of a social market Among the market economies, America’s entrepreneurial capitalism is the most vigorous. It is proving the best able to cope with the demands of the modern world economy. America’s culture of individualism is a weighty influence on the side of open markets and democratic political systems. But the Rand Corporation also notes that unregulated capitalism has dramatically increased inequality, effectively excluding from mainstream education and health care a larger and larger segment of America’s population. Unwilling for their countries to pay these social costs of growth, Europe’s Social Democrats are seeking the middle ground between pure market economies and the elaborate safety nets of the ‘Welfare State’. They are turning away from runaway entitlements which have invited abuse and trying to bring people from welfare to work. The challenge that Europe’s new-type socialists see for themselves is how to modernise their economies—by adapting to market forces—
while combining capitalism and the market with a strong public sector and a clear government role in the economy. Certainly the European ‘Third Way’ is one path the world community might explore in connection with moving toward a more benign global economy: one that reconciles open market forces with a measure of social justice. Caring for the casualties of capitalism Unless some catastrophe befalls our world, the age of closed political-economic systems seems over. The central question of our time is how to create, simultaneously, material wealth and social cohesion in free societies. If we are to keep our societies stable and tranquil, we must find answers for those adversely affected by capitalism. Given the growth of global interdependence, future booms and busts are likely to become much bigger. We need to minimise the intensity and frequency of capitalist crises. We must find ways of preventing the speculative excesses inherent in the way capitalism works: the manias and panics, and the alternating waves of greed and fear. And we need to find relief for the casualties produced by its cycles of creative destruction. Even as we harness the vigour of self-interest in the service of economic growth, we must recognise its limits. We must never forget that the market is merely a tool that stimulates the production of social wealth with the greatest efficiency. The mechanisms of the market cannot by themselves produce a decent, moral society. Only by striking the balance between the market and the state can our societies combine economic competitiveness with the well-being of ordinary people. Equality of opportunity but not of outcome In the idea of equality, we can discover the common ground between socialism and the capitalist ethic to which centrist democracy subscribes.
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The Expansion of International Party Cooperation: CDI Creating Bonds among Asian Centrist Parties
Historically, classical socialism’s most emotional appeal has been its concept of equality. The strongest element in socialist thought has been its protest against the lack of means that excludes some social classes from the heritage of civilisation which others enjoy. In the past, however, the promotion of social justice has often been confused with the imposition of equality of outcome. The result was a neglect of society’s need to reward effort and responsibility. As centrist democrats, we accept that there will be a natural amount of inequality in any community. People differ by nature in skill, health and strength, and unequal fortune is the natural outcome of this social diversity. We seek equality not in the Communist sense of a forcible redistribution of wealth. We seek for every individual equality in political rights, in access to procedural justice and in access to basic education. And we seek equality of opportunity, as far as this ideal is possible. But we do not seek equality of outcome, which is impossible to guarantee. Wealth as stewardship We recognise the power of self-interest in generating economic growth. But we also believe that ‘free’ enterprise should not mean enterprise free from public accountability. Our political beliefs emphasise the dimension of duty and social responsibility inherent in the possession of wealth. We regard property as a stewardship. Though wealth should be privately owned, we enjoin its owner to make public use of it: to use his wealth to benefit the community. This concept expresses the mutual dependence between the free market and the human community. The state and the economy We see the state’s basic role as that of providing the framework within which individual
enterprise can flourish. This framework has four components. The first is political stability, which guarantees peace and order. The second is the rule of law, which assures the security of business contracts and a level playing field of competition. The third component is sound macro-economic policy. Among other things, this should guarantee the stability of prices and the integrity of the currency. And the fourth is physical infrastructure, which private industry cannot itself provide. The state should not only provide highways and power plants, piers and irrigation systems; it must also invest in ‘soft’ public facilities such as health care, education, skills training and so forth for its human capital. In a word, effective states and efficient markets should be the key objects of our striving. The connection between the two is plain. Without government, there can be no private property— and therefore no markets. Only in a society with clear and secure individual rights are there strong incentives for people to produce, invest and engage in mutually advantageous trade. And the right to property and the security of contracts, on which markets are founded, only an effective state can guarantee. We also need the state to provide the requisite social protection for those groups in the national community that globalisation might put at risk. And we need effective states to deliver the social services such as primary health care and basic education that equip people to pursue lives of great fulfilment. The limits of state interventionism As Centrist Democrats, we also have an acute sense of the limits to what the state can do. Our first principle is still to leave to private initiative the day-to-day workings of the market economy. We also realise it is much easier to have impartial administrators once the state discontinues its involvement in large-scale economic regulation.
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Limited government should also reduce the incidence of corruption in office. As a degenerative disease of governments, corruption can cause legitimate authority to disintegrate and the entire state to collapse. Deregulating the economy—thus spurring competition—and generally allowing the market more elbowroom should limit the illicit opportunities of political office. Limited government is much more likely to be uncorrupted government. The proper role of government in the economy is not to help business people avoid competition. The role of government is not to award subsidies, protective tariffs, preferential loans and other economic crutches. The role of government is to challenge national industry to strive for excellence, to innovate and to measure itself against the best in the world. We hold no hard-and-fast theory about the extent, and the limits, of state intervention in the economy. The rule of thumb is to limit the scope of state activities to those that are most crucial, but to strengthen the state’s capability to intervene decisively in these key activities. Reconciling nationalism and globalisation ‘Globalisation’ refers to the way trade, investment and industry are spreading around the world in a uniform pattern, transcending political frontiers and national cultures. In recent years its perceived disadvantages have generated an ideological backlash, which has itself become a worldwide counter-movement. The common complaint made by the weaker states is their perceived loss of autonomy in a globalised world dominated by the rich nations. But globalisation is not likely to be reversed in our time. Not only does engagement in the global economy promise the best results as a development model, but the only alternative— autarky under the command economy—has become discredited with the collapse of the Soviet Union. On balance, globalisation can
be more beneficial than disadvantageous to the developing country whose leadership is intelligent enough to blunt its sometimes brutal impact on vulnerable communities and working people by balancing economic growth with social development. The countries best able to take full advantage of globalisation are those with open societies and relatively open economies. Today the challenge before the Asia-Pacific countries is for them to grasp, together, the opportunities globalisation presents, while working together to minimise their shared vulnerabilities to its risks. Because it is focused on a specific community, nationalism is the perfect counterpoise to the universality that globalisation represents. And nationalism can adapt to this new age simply by cultivating a broader sense of the national interest. The nationalism of weakness that, in the Third World, has expressed itself in economic protectionism and political xenophobia must give way to a new nationalism unafraid to measure itself against the best in the world. Development and the environment We also need to reconcile the needs of development with our need to care for the environment. As centrist democrats, we regard mankind not as the masters of creation but as stewards of nature. The earth is not ours to deal with as we please, because it is only temporarily in our care. It belongs not just to us but also to generations yet unborn. And as the Book of Proverbs says, it is a wise person who ensures that there is an inheritance for his children’s children. The state and the citizen The classical Greeks believed that the citizen was educated and perfected by fully taking part in the civic life of his city-state. Participation in politics, in managing public affairs, was a right, a duty and an education for every citizen. The
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Athenians regarded the man who took no part in public affairs not as one who minded his own business but as a man good for nothing. In the age of the nation-state, the individual citizen’s participation in managing public affairs has become severely limited. In the typical representative democracy, this is often confined to voting in competitive elections and the occasional plebiscite. The difficulty of understanding the complexities of public affairs has also increased. Even the increased availability of political information in the media may simply strain citizens’ capacities to keep up with the intricacies of electoral politics. As centrist democrats, we recognise the imperative need of democratic countries to improve citizens’ capacities to engage intelligently in the nation’s political life. Most everywhere in the Third World, the raging popular struggle is the struggle for justice and human rights. It is not poverty or deprivation as such that compels ordinary people to rebel, but deprivation and a sense of injustice. Hence, government must be seen to deliver justice in its most elementary sense to local peoples, to local communities and, particularly, to women, children and other vulnerable groups in the national community. The spiritual and the secular in human life Most people accept that the secular state is appropriate for our time, because of its respect for human rights, its ability to tolerate dissent and the freedom of expression it allows. But they also recognise that the secular state has not entirely lived up to its own promises of political freedom, economic prosperity and social justice. In post-modern society, the triumph of secularism has also resulted in the deconsecration of human life. In the richest nations, society has largely cut itself off from its moral foundations. The pursuit of economic wealth has degenerated into the worship of worldly things—into what Pope
John Paul II called an “idolatry of the market”. The former Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend George Carey, has deplored the “tacit atheism” of modern society. And we all know how empty public life can be without a moral purpose, and how rootless society can be without some transcendent foundation. We recognise that ordinary people need a ‘sacred canopy’ in order to make sense of the world, because meaninglessness is a threat to our need for an orderly universe. The world’s need for interfaith dialogue As the forces of globalisation compel peoples who once lived apart to interact, conflicts between them are liable to intensify unless we are able to inculcate new rules of civic behaviour respectful of foreign cultures and religions. We urgently need a dialogue between religions and cultures, a dialogue of civilisations, to restore the social order shattered by the terrorist attacks, and to achieve the multi-cultural understanding which is the only basis for the long-term security of the global community. These dialogues are best institutionalised through an Interfaith Council in the United Nations system. The dialogue must start from the premise that, in the campaign against terrorism, force by itself is not enough. The campaign against terrorism must also be a war of ideas. We must not merely aim to defeat terrorism; we must win people’s allegiance by the power of our values and our ideals. We must not only isolate radicals and extremists. We must help poor countries to prosper; and we must aim to create a world order that offers full participation to all the world’s peoples. For we can have peace only when Christian and Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu, Catholic and Jew can dwell safely side by side: “every man under his vine and under his fig tree” (1 Kings 4:25). Creating space for alternative faiths The former American president, Bill Clinton,
José de Venecia
says memorably that the twenty-first century will be defined by a simple choice the nations must make: whether to emphasise their ethnic, ideological and religious differences or their common humanity. But nations can never make the right choice as long as their peoples insist that “Our faith must reign supreme!” since this claim can only be affirmed by the negation of all other faiths. So we must all reinterpret our traditions to embrace pluralism in culture and in society. We must all learn to create space, in our nations and in our hearts, for alternative faiths. After all, every great religion arose from the same wellspring of faith: accepting as its central belief God’s direct and decisive intervention in human history by revealing Himself to mankind. Thus religious pluralism is a vital ingredient of the world we need to organise for those who will come after us. An Asia without dividing lines For us, the vision of an Asia without dividing lines has become a possible dream. We will encourage the rise of regional groupings as the building blocks of an Asian community. In Southeast Asia, unification has already enabled ASEAN to safeguard the region from continuing to be an arena of great-power competition, as it was for most of the last 150 years. South Asia, too, is moving toward community. The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), incorporating eight neighbouring economies in a regional free-trade area, came in force into 2005. While free-trade agreements will not end national enmities, economic disparities and religious-ethnic rivalries, economic integration will enable neighbour-states to begin looking beyond the armed peace of the balance of power to the unforced peace of the balance of mutual benefit. For the international community, Asia’s rise will begin to balance the tripod of global interdependence in this new century—
whose pillars are Europe, America and Asia. Already Europe and North America have functioning, continent-wide economic and political groupings. Only the Asian pillar must yet be completed and put in place. Helping to organise Asian integration is our primary reason for being. Building peace that will endure We regard peace as the only firm foundation for building prosperity in the poor countries. To build peace that endures in the Asia Pacific, we must first, and most urgently, prevent confrontations between the great powers in the hemisphere. Then we must complete building an Asia-Pacific community: a ‘federation of nations’ incorporating all those states with legitimate stakes in the continent. This vision is not as utopian as it sounds. We have before us the example of Western Europe, which has put an end to its civil wars and come close to realizing the philosopher’s ideal of “perpetual peace”. And the groundwork has been laid for this effort: in the networks of regional organisations that are beginning to link our separate countries. These networks will strengthen as economic cooperation among the Asian states extends to culture, politics and mutual security. Thus the foundation stones for an Asia-Pacific community have already been laid. CDI Asia Pacific will dedicate itself to ensuring that these bonds of solidarity grow stronger and endure. Making a road to the future We have no precedent on which we can model our hope of community for our giant, complex and fractured continent. But as Lu Hsun, the most brilliant writer of modern China’s early revolutionary period, reminds us, “Hope cannot be said to exist. Nor can it be said not to exist. It is just like roads across the earth. For actually the earth has no roads to begin with, but when
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many people pass one way, a road is made.” By organizing Asia’s first transnational political party, we in the Centrist Democrat International Asia-Pacific have begun making that road. And we are travelling together, on behalf of the Asian future, toward our hope of peace and community—for ourselves and for those who will come after us.
José de Venecia is the President of the CDI Asia-Pacific and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Congress of the Republic of the Philippines.
Political Parties in Africa as Instruments of Democracy By Afonso Dhalakama
Any examination of the current political context in Africa must start with the recognition that, with very few exceptions, democracy has been a reality in Africa for only a few years—and even this has been democracy in its initial stages. I would like to begin this analysis by reviewing the way in which democracy and political parties have developed in Africa. I will then go on to reflect on the emergence of CDI Africa in the current context and on the responsibility that centrist political parties and their associated transnational organisations have and the role they are destined to play on the continent. Prior to the colonial period, the history of Africa was one of continuous conflict between the different ethnic groups, who fought to control resources and to seize land and power. There was very little development in Africa during this time: destruction of infrastructures and the taking of life formed part of everyday reality and naturally there was no democratic process or development. This was followed by the colonial era, and while this period did see some development, this was largely focused on meeting the needs of the colonial powers. Very little power was devolved to local leaders and no elections were held with participation by local Africans. There were no political parties—or at least none with any significant participation. The advent of independence brought much frustration for local populations. Conflict and destruction were widespread, with the result that there was very little development: democratic processes held out no guarantees and were instead used by a small minority to
seize and retain power. During this period, political parties were little more than a means of obtaining power. They were not used as democratic institutions. Dictators rose to power, capitalising on a certain illusion of freedom and independence and manipulating ethnic imbalances. They pursued their own personal interests rather than advancing the development of the country. These new leaders had little contact with their communities and little or no political liability. Again, it was a period without much development—and in some cases the little that had been achieved previously was destroyed. In the great majority of countries, when the colonial powers negotiated independence, they handed over power to specific political movements or a single political party, thus giving these groupings an advantage over others founded later. In the vast majority of cases— Kenya is one of few exceptions—and especially in Southern Africa, power was handed over to communist movements or parties. Together these parties created a strong axis of power, ensuring continued power through the creation of the single-party system and keeping tight political, social and economic control through their ideological principles. For many years this situation prevented the creation of new parties, with such initiatives being banned as an ‘attack on communism’ and on the established principles. The ruling communist parties in different African states created a special line of collaboration— ‘Frontline’—founded on the fight against apartheid, especially in South Africa. It was very active among political movements and parties and continues to operate to this day despite the fact that apartheid has now been completely
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eradicated and South Africa is a democratic, multi-racial country—one of the few working democracies in Africa. With the end of the wars in countries such as Mozambique, Angola and Namibia in the 1990s and later, new parties emerged and guerrilla groups were transformed into political groupings. An added problem is that when the parties— created after power had been obtained through political movements—lose power, either (exceptionally) through elections or (more commonly) through a coup d’état, internal struggles ensue that cause the party to splinter or simply disappear. These parties only survive on the basis of the political and economic wellbeing they are capable of providing. They have no real foundation that would allow them to remain in opposition once the benefits have run out or the ideological basis on which they came to power has been transformed, with more personal interests prevailing. Wars in countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda and continuous coups d’état and violent overthrows of governments all hinder the stability of political parties. Opposition parties suffer continuous pressure and persecution because the established governments view them not as the opposition but as an enemy, which might seize their power and its associated privileges (especially the economic ones). At the same time, in most countries that lack a democratic system that allows rotation of power (the majority), the economic treasury of the state is too closely linked to the economic treasury of the party. The line of separation is so fine as to be at times invisible, giving ruling parties more privileges and opportunities for widening even further the gap between themselves and the opposition parties. All these circumstances and difficulties mean that in certain areas of the African continent, and especially those where a socialist ideology
prevails, only the parties in power have any chance of developing partisan relations with other parties. There are two clear areas where relations exist between the ruling parties: Frenchspeaking Africa and countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC). With rare exceptions, these relations consist largely of mutual support to help keep their members in government. The creation in January last year of the regional organisation of the CDI (Centrist Democrat International), CDI Africa (which now has sixteen member parties), offers new prospects for collaboration between our associates and any future members. This new collaboration, which includes both ruling and opposition parties, will be of great value in developing democracy in Africa. On the one hand, plans have been made to set up a team of delegates to the African parliament from member parties, who will work together, speaking with a single voice and defending positions which would be difficult to maintain in isolation. A committee will be created to support parties in their election campaigns and to monitor electoral processes. Here, the experience gained in recent elections will be of great use. Apart from the regular meetings, which will be useful for exchanging ideas and experiences, we also want to establish collaboration and personal relations between the various parties. One essential area to which the European Union cannot continue to turn a blind eye is the lack of transparency in African elections. Ongoing electoral fraud—manipulation in the preparation of the electoral census (which is where fraud begins) and in voting and votecounting—creates conflict, despite the presence of international observers, whose reports, either through ignorance, convenience or conformism, do not always reflect the real situation. There can be no development in Africa if there is no democracy, and there will be no democracy
if the political parties—in government and in opposition—are not strengthened. It is therefore essential that the European Union creates programmes of support for these parties, covering not only ideology, but also practical issues (organisation, preparation of leaders and media presence) as well as supervised economic support to allow greater democratic development. None of the funds that Europe earmarks multilaterally or bilaterally will achieve the desired results if we do not achieve stable and true democracy. This is the challenge the European Union must face in the coming years. Achieving this aim requires freedom of the press, as well as solid and capable political parties. The discovery of oil (or its recent availability) makes democratic change all the more difficult. Oil interests often accept entirely unsustainable situations, as is the case with Equatorial Guinea and its continuous violations of human rights. Quite simply put, this is immoral. If we do not take effective action and advance with clear, firm steps in the democratisation of Africa, we face serious problems, which will have indisputable repercussions, especially in Europe. Chinese expansion into Africa poses a further threat. Particularly striking are the words of the Chinese President, who said last year during an official visit to Gabon, “Chinese cooperation does not depend on good governance and democracy in African countries.” It was a clear statement of support for abuse by dictators and a great disappointment for parties striving for democracy in their countries. China’s attitude is based on its need for raw materials such as minerals, oil and wood to power its ongoing development and, at the same time, its need for less demanding markets on which to sell its products. However, this whole development is enormously damaging to European interests and offers the false democracies of Africa a chance to gain time and their leaders an opportunity to remain
in power. This is why it is necessary, within the CDI, to augment the close collaboration between CDI Africa, which I have the honour of chairing, and the European organisation, the EPP, chaired by former Belgian prime minister, Vice President of the CDI, Wilfried Martens. It is important to understand that all African states need collaboration and an understanding with their European colleagues, and this must take place within the CDI, in collaboration with the EPP. African leaders need EPP’s experience and its international weight, especially in their fight against the anti-democratic abuses that exist in many African countries. We need to work together to defend human rights and freedom of the press, to strengthen political parties and to bring about true transparency in elections. Only in this way can we work together to change Africa’s future. CDI Africa must set its sights on creating strong links among all African member parties, based on dialogue and cooperation. This will make it possible to address the African Parliament, the African Union and the various governments with a single powerful voice, denouncing abuse and human rights violations and working to develop and reinforce democracy. Our most pressing political mission in Africa is to form modern political parties and associated think-tanks. If we are not successful in this task, we run the risk of contributing to the disintegration of democracy, political chaos and economic collapse in Africa. With this task in view, we are going to create a work group this year to spearhead relations with the African Parliament and coordinate all delegates from the CDI Africa group. I have no doubt that the EPP will be eager to let us benefit from its extensive experience in this highly important project. Other vitally important matters for CDI Africa are to work to make free and transparent elections a reality in Africa and to ensure rotation of power in government. We know this is no easy task and that it will require great effort and much
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work. It may take many years before we see promising results, but it is very important that we start work now on this task that is so crucial for the fate of the continent.
African citizens serious projects articulated by honest, prepared and responsible parties. The time has come to rekindle citizens’ faith in democracy and their hope for a better future.
The bad example of populism in Latin America could all too easily spread to Africa, setting back many years a continent already beset by problems. To avoid such scenarios, we must commit ourselves to achieving five basic objectives:
We in CDI Africa are committed to meeting those expectations and to making our centrist parties an answer to Afro-pessimism, an answer to corruption, an answer to imperfect democracy, to fraudulent processes, to a lack of democratic participation, to unstable governments and institutions, to the unpunished violation of human rights and to underdevelopment.
1. strong, stable, effective and responsible democratic institutions; 2. sustained and equitable economic growth; 3. the defence of human rights; 4. the prevention and resolution of conflicts; 5. greater strengthening of democracy, with increased participation and more political and social commitment on the part of the citizenry. For all of these reasons, it is essential to strengthen our parties within CDI Africa. In doing so, we have the backing of the EPP and all the regional organisations, the ODCA-CDOA in Latin America and CDI Asia-Pacific. Through our regional organisations, we want to make the parties more responsible to the citizenry, proposing specific programmes that involve a real commitment to the electorate, reflect their real concerns and offer concrete solutions. CDI Africa’s member parties are eager to become instruments of communication between institutions and voters, reinforcing the former’s role in democracy in their countries and strengthening the latter’s conviction that democracy is the foundation of both their own development and that of their country. Paradoxically, political parties in Africa are seen on the one hand as the key institutions for representative democracy and at the same time as absolutely incapable of performing their functions, which are essential for the effective functioning of democracy. The time has come to end this paradox. The time has come to offer
Only in this way can political parties become true instruments of democracy. Only in this way can Africa look to the future with hope.
Afonso Dhalakama is the President of CDI Africa.
Keeping it in the Family? National Parties and the Transnational Experience By David Hanley Discussion of transnational parties (TNPs) focuses heavily on their activities at the level of the European Union (EU), whether as actors in the European Parliament (EP), or as political entrepreneurs outside the EU. All such analyses use a top-down approach. The TNPs are considered actors in their own right, more or less unitary, and operating in a distinct space, namely the peculiar competitive environment of the EP.1 Less attention is paid to the bottomup approach, that is, looking at the TNPs from the point of view of the various national parties which created them and still sustain them to a large extent. Officially, the EU endorses the concept of TNPs because, according to Article 191 of the Maastricht Treaty, they are important factors for integration in that they help raise citizens’ awareness of Europe. Even supposing that all national parties are in favour of such a development, there are a number of questions which supporters of TNPs must answer with regard to national parties. Why should a national party invest in a TNP? What can it hope to gain? What are the costs? Can we answer such questions simply and directly? In particular, might not different party families vary in evaluations of and approaches to the TNPs? Building on an ongoing research project, this article suggests preliminary answers to these questions. Party and nation Parties are contemporaneous with their nation states. Our understanding of party, nourished by the models of Rokkan, has proceeded on 1
the basis of locating these organisms within the context of their own national states. Parties arose out of the famous cleavages, moments of high tension within European societies as they began to modernise economically and politically. Parties reflected the social interests of groups polarised on either side of these cleavages. Thus most countries have ended up with a party system where property owners are represented by conservative or liberal parties, and workers by socialists or communists; in some cases, Christian parties arose to defend the Church against the attacks of liberal, rationalist modernisers. A further fault-line in modern societies, the territorial cleavage associated with state-building, would pit centralising parties against parties which defended the periphery: those outlying parts of the newly consolidated states, often with cultures or languages of their own, that resisted being drawn into the modernising orbit of strangers in the capital. The modernisation of agriculture, with its consequent urbanisation, would pit town against country, parties of the urban interest—be they liberal or conservative—against agrarian or peasant parties. In short, then, parties belong to families associated with cleavages, but these cleavages took place within distinct nation states. Parties could only be supremely national organisations, rooted in the history and culture of their nation state, and as much a part of the familiar institutions as the national museum, broadcasting service or football team. Parties could only take root in a ‘Westphalian’ nation state which had developed a certain level of economic, political and cultural cohesion, or which, as Bartolini insists, had managed to draw its boundaries clearly.
Some scholars dismiss the TNP summarily. For Daniel Seiler they are not true parties while Peter Mair believes that there is no true competition in the EP because this body does not sustain an executive. We do not share these views.
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Parties as institutions: selfpreservation
As well as having deep national roots, parties developed structures and needs which span any national boundary. Panebianco has focused on the material basis of party. His stressing of the egotistical dimension of party activity is a necessary corrective to much writing that takes party ideology or self-description at face value.2 We know that parties tend, if successful, to institutionalise (to use his terminology), i.e. they build up an infrastructure and resources of their own. This then becomes a stake in the calculations of political actors, as the party can now offer careers (administrative and representative), honours, prestige, etc. The party exists as an actor in its own right, with its own interests, which it will obviously seek to enhance. One consequence is that a party must be constantly on the lookout for new opportunities to extend its influence, both to enhance its own base and to satisfy its voters. The life of modern parties is a continuing search for sources of influence, in the widest sense. As the field of possible influence expands, so the party must spread into it; parties follow opportunities as trade once followed the flag. Every new arena sets new challenges for parties: how do they respond in a way that enables them to keep control of the agenda, the voters and, if possible, the decisions? Long before the concept of ‘multilevel governance’ came into vogue, parties had been operating at many different levels. Modern parties first spread out of parliaments into the new institutions of local government which rapidly arose across Europe. But if parties spread easily to sub-national levels, why should they not spread outside national frontiers, if the occasion arose? Parties are rooted in their own state, but there is nothing unconditional about their link to this state. They must preserve
themselves and represent their supporters, and these two processes are intimately connected. If therefore these tasks might need to be carried out partly beyond the national territory, then parties should not, as rational, self-preserving actors, have difficulty with this notion. All this depends on precisely what opportunities or pressure for transnational action might arise. Party beyond the frontiers One could develop an argument about the prehistory of transnational collaboration between parties—going back to the nineteenth century, and especially the Socialist International—and discern long-term trends which may be relevant to today’s national parties and their transnational relationships. Bearing in mind spatial constraints, we will simply point out that all party families felt compelled to invest in transnational structures long before the advent of a political regime such as the EU, and will restrict our remarks to the period of European integration. European integration is generally perceived by parties as an opportunity and a threat. It forces them to make choices. Parties in government (hence involved in the European Council) continually have to decide on what bases to pool decision-making power, previously their own (in theory). Parties in opposition have to decide how far to oppose or agree with the governing party. Additionally, though, whether in government or opposition, parties are involved in the European Parliament (EP), a key stage in the EU legislative process. Its structures have from the beginning been transnational, starting with groups in the ECSC Assembly, organised according to classic party families.3 These structures have grown from ad hoc coalitions in the Assembly, through informal steering groups and then confederations of party families with an existence separate from the parliamentary
A. Panebianco, Political Parties: Organisation and Power (Cambridge: CUP, 1988). A. Kreppel, The European Parliament and the Supranational Party System: A Study in Development (Cambridge: CUP, 2002).
group, to the self-proclaimed TNPs of the 1990s: the PES, the EPP, the ELDR, etc. Experts see this process as driven from outside. National governments signed up to integrated structures, which then developed institutional logics of their own (e.g., the Common Assembly); then in a later stage, they increased their power within the decision-making triad of the EU, thus becoming a more attractive investment proposition for national parties. At every stage of this process, national parties had to frame an institutional, transnational response to this changing landscape of governance and did so as shown above. Understanding national parties’ responses Broadly speaking, national parties had a range of options for the construction of their transnational vehicles. Oskar Niedermayer set out a ladder of collaboration, with his famous triptych of contact/cooperation/integration. The first stage implies a low level of contact between parties, while the second implies recognisable structured cooperation between them. Party Internationals, or some of the bi- and multi-level activity that neighbouring parties of the same family might pursue in a given region, would count as an example of the mid-to-lower end of the cooperation scale. Today’s TNPs, or the older ones at least, might be seen as stronger examples of cooperation. Few, however, would dare to regard them as real examples of the highest stage, viz. integration.4 For this involves a significant re-ordering of the structure of national parties: they would have to become (to an extent that one could argue about) parts of a wider transnational organism, to which they would have abrogated their most important powers (such as the ability to draft their own programme, select their own leaders or candidates, dispose of their own resources, pursue alliances and so on). Integration in Niedermayer’s sense really means that national
parties would become subordinate organs of a TNP. A more realistic option for national parties might be to create a less ambitious vehicle. In Niedermayer’s terms, it would not go beyond cooperation; to borrow from a popular current theory of institutional analysis, it would be an agent controlled by its various principals, the national parties. Principal/agent theory is mostly used to describe the relationship between national governments and non-elective regulatory bodies to which they have made over a certain limited number of powers (these can include bodies as variegated as the European Court of Justice or regulators of water supply). Purists can argue about whether such theories fit exactly the relationship between national parties and TNPs, but at a basic level they capture the fundamental logic of this situation: only give up what is strictly necessary and make sure that what powers you have conceded are well policed. The mainsprings of principal/agent theory are widely understood. Typically, a principal (usually a national government or another state-level institution) entrusts, alone or in concert with other principals, a function or set of functions to a notionally subordinate actor, the agent. Adequate resources have to be provided for the function to be discharged. The principals may in some cases create this agent directly. The latter, usually an institution in its own right, is expected to carry out these functions for the benefit of the principal(s), or, as the formula has it, to save the principal(s) a number of transaction costs. Transposed to the EU framework, this theory has been used to study the delegation of functions by principals (national governments) to supranational agents (the Commission or ECJ), but also, increasingly, to a host of new, secondary institutions.5 Principals have one main concern, to stop their
An exception is K. M. Johansson and P. Zervakis (eds.) European Political Parties between Co-operation and Integration (Baden-Baden: Nomos, 2002). 5 M. Pollack, The Engine of European Integration: Delegation, Agency and Agenda-Setting in the European Union (Oxford: OUP, 2003). 4
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agents from acquiring any autonomy. They do not want them to develop their own policies or to begin to interfere with areas that are the principal’s responsibility. The best way to assure this is to give the agent comparatively few powers and have the means of checking him should he step out of line. Such an eminently clear and rational framework can in our view easily be applied to TNPs and their national member-parties or principals. From the time of the Internationals to today’s TNPs, there has been a process of delegation by national parties to a transnational organism, which they have created. All the problems associated with principal/agent relationships have surfaced at various times within the history of the TNPs and their predecessors. What benefits are expected from delegation? What functions and resources should be delegated? What mechanisms are there to prevent disobedience? What sanctions? It should be clear from the above that we think that the logical step for national parties is to create an agent that is adequate but not strong, in the shape of a TNP, and to keep it on a tight rein. The uses of TNPs for national parties National parties obtain clear benefits from these structures which they have created. We will study the EP groups and the TNPs successively, as they are by no means the same animal. There is a clear division of labour between the two. The group is adequate for coordinating the parliamentary activities of member parties. It is the locus of compromise, where national delegations can discuss ongoing legislation, agree on amendments or, in extremis, when the national interest of a delegation leads it to differ from the group line, accept that difference. Such instances are comparatively rare since the trend has been towards increased homogeneity of voting, as Simon Hix’s European Parliament Research Group has shown. If parliamentary collaboration were all that was necessary, EP groups would be a good illustration of
Niedermayer’s cooperation, or of a weak agent carrying out limited functions for a strong national principal. But other transnational functions need to be addressed, and here the party comes into its own. Today’s TNPs have assumed the symbolic, identity-consolidating roles which Internationals traditionally performed for party families, by a process we term decantation. This consists in regulating the admission of new members to the family. In newly emerging polities, such as the countries of Eastern and Central Europe after 1989, the party situation is fluid, with many new parties emerging, old ones re-emerging and existing ones, such as the communists, striving to readapt themselves. The TNPs played a decisive role in clearing up this confused scene. Building on contacts established by the German and other foundations, they were able to identify sustainable members for their family, excluding the dubious or short-lived, and sometimes encouraging rivals to merge. The TNPs could help with expert advice and training, as well as symbolic encouragement such as visits or seminars by leading politicians. EU membership for these countries was the catalyst which permitted such activity; decantation was not immediately successful in every case, though the overall results are impressive when we see how far party families have been consolidated. This decantation still continues in the Balkans and on the eastern fringes of the EU. This was a function which the old Internationals first began to carry out late in the nineteenth century. Another was the think-tank function, if one can so describe the rich debates which the Socialists conducted on the nature of socialism and how to attain it. Today’s TNPs have resumed this think-tank function much more. And given their new resources, they are likely to continue apace, providing new options for their family, alongside the input from member parties and EP groups, which are necessarily narrower in their focus. This capacity to paint broad pictures might become a more valued function of the
TNPs over time. The TNPs might build more actively on their think-tank function. They could coordinate campaigns on given issues on a crossnational basis. Some families are particularly attracted by this possibility. The most important role is, however, generally agreed to be that of elite coordination, mainly via the pre-summits which TNPs increasingly hold prior to European Council meetings. Heads of government and heads of opposition parties can discuss issues, agree a line or at least find out where they can afford to differ. Such close networking has proved highly effective in terms of Council outcomes; Simon Hix and Christopher Lord demonstrate in particular the effectiveness of the EPP in the run-up to monetary union.6 There is an increasing tendency, therefore, to see the TNP as an elite network or club. The advantages of a weak TNP for national parties are, then, considerable. It can perform some symbolic functions of identity-building and socialisation of new members. It can be asked to be a ‘blue skies’ thinker on policy options or broad future trends. Its parliamentary group (by no means coterminous with the party) can be used to carry out precise legislative work in a body, the EP, which plays a growing role in the EU policy process, albeit more limited than that of national parliaments. To enable this agent to discharge these functions on behalf of its national principals, it can even be put on a sound legal and financial basis, as was done under the European Party Statute. This represents only a limited transfer of sovereignty from national parties, however. They still control the major functions associated with political parties. National parties choose candidates for EP elections; they are free to use TNP manifestoes or not. Membership is still usually in the control of national parties: few TNPs have individual members, though some are moving towards the idea (some have
registered sympathisers rather than members in the classic sense). National parties still make their own policy on EU and other matters, being free to use TNP output or not. And within the decision-making of the TNPs, national vetoes still prevail on all matters except those for which the European Council uses QMV. National parties still have a financial say in the operations of the TNPs, as the first 25% of their finance has to come from outside the EU budget—in other words, they need donors. Finally, the operations of the EP groups depend not on the TNPs, whose names they (sometimes) bear, but on consensus between national delegations, which are supervised with varying degrees of rigorousness by parties back home. All this bespeaks TNPs with limited functions, subjected to strong controls. Further development of the TNPs is certainly feasible, though it depends on the institutional evolution of the Union, or more accurately, on whether national parties in government are willing to adopt more supranational ways of doing business (e.g., having some of the MEPs elected on genuinely transnational lists, having agreed candidates for Commission President run by TNPs, and so on). For now, the TNPs can be understood as weak agents supervised by strong national principals. Such are the benefits which strong national parties might expect from the creation of TNPs and associated groups in the EP. Yet even a very general model of the national–transnational party relationship such as this allows for wide variants in the way national parties can construct their transnationality. Of the possible variables which may affect their choice, the most obvious seems to be the party family: does the cleavage from which a party stems bear heavily on the way it envisages its transnational action?
S. Hix and C. Lord, Political Parties in the European Union (Basingstoke: McMillan, 1997).
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The family dimension of TNPs: patterns and variants How do the different families make use of their TNPs? At this stage, it would seem that there are some common uses, and some practices specific to different families. All families without exception value the symbolic functions of the TNPs. They, like the Internationals before them, actually define who is a member of the family; they check credentials and act as gatekeepers through the process of decantation described above. By being a locus of interaction among members, they help keep alive a sense of common purpose and belonging. Any social organisation or community needs identity props of this kind; members need to be reminded who they are (and, by the same token, who they are not, i.e. rival groups). Political parties are no different from any other organism in that respect; any analysis that forgets this identity dimension does so at its peril. Thus all TNPs help, by their very existence, to ‘keep it in the family’. That said, some TNPs have more difficulty than others in defining the family and keeping it together. Paradoxically, the EPP is a case in point. We know how skilfully this formation has expanded beyond its original Christian Democrat core to embrace numerous likeminded (“geestesverwante”, in Wilfried Martens’ phrase) centre-right parties, whose combined weight today outnumbers that of the original Christian Democrat core. The EPP has cleverly used membership of the parliamentary group as a staging post to full membership; in this way parties such as Forza Italia or Partido Popular were inducted relatively easily. The growth of the EPP as biggest party, with high voting cohesion, confirms the success of this policy of federating the centre-right. The exception is, of course, the British Conservatives,
who never got beyond an increasingly semidetached membership of the EP group. It seems at present that they will end their alliance with EPP and try to reconfigure the old European Democrat group. One wonders if they will gain by so doing, even in the domestic political arena at which their gesture is aimed. From the perspective of TNPs as identity builders, however, the Conservatives’ story illustrates the limits of family belonging: if there are certain issues that you cannot accept, then you cannot, in the end, belong. As a national party, the Conservatives clearly think that this is a price worth paying. The limits to transnational commitment in the face of clear priorities in domestic politics could not be better illustrated. Other EPP parties have found the networking function extremely useful. Most are regular members of government and have clearly learned how to coordinate their activity. One can argue that the movement of the economy and society towards a more deregulated and free-market approach, together with the rise of consumerism and individualism, have made it easier for the EPP’s members to converge. But the existence of the TNPs has helped make that convergence faster and smoother. The other major TNP, the Party of European Socialists (PES), shows a different trajectory. While it apparently has had little difficulty in integrating members (even the reformed communists of Eastern and Central Europe), it experiences difficulty in developing common positions. Robert Ladrech and Simon Lightfoot have shown that the PES has already struggled to frame a common approach to employment, while on environment, another key priority for socialists, it has never got beyond very general policy orientations.7 Some powerful parties, notably in Southern Europe, cannot agree to the strict sort of norm pioneered by their friends in, say, Scandinavia. Another tension inside the party, which soon turns up in any interview
R. Ladrech, Social Democracy and the Challenge of the European Union (Boulder: Lynne Riener, 2000); S. Lightfoot, Europeanising Social Democracy? The Rise of the Party of European Socialists (London: Routledge, 2005).
with a national official, is that between statists/ regulators and deregulators, exemplified by British Labour on the one hand and the French or Walloon Socialist Party (PS) on the other. For the French PS, now that it is in opposition, increased investment in PES activity is a way of winning over to one’s ideas colleagues who might be future interlocutors at the European Council, once they return to government. In many ways, little has changed for the socialists since the old International: they value the PES as a locus for the confrontation of ideas (its think-tank function is undergoing a major development under the energetic leadership of P. N. Rasmussen), but are as yet reluctant to see it develop more integrative policymaking functions. The smaller families tend to value TNPs more, albeit with qualifications. The Liberals have probably the highest level of agreement on European integration, and even though there are tensions between pure market liberals and social liberals, these tend to be manageable. Perhaps, given this high level of accord, national parties have under-used the ELDR as a resource. However, the current president, Annemie Neyts, has plans to revive the party as a forum for debate; in her view, member parties have avoided addressing squarely the question of how to take integration further, and this must be ended.8 Members should thus see the think-tank function of the party strengthened. The other key function of the ELDR must be to strengthen the liberal presence in Eastern and Central Europe. Struggling parties, such as ODA in the Czech Republic, badly need help from Brussels to build up a party machine, train cadres, drive merger negotiations with other small groups and so on. Smaller TNPs usually have less experience of government. This may explain why they were the most reluctant to adopt the form of a TNP and make full use of the European Party Statute.
Thus the networking functions of leaders’ meetings were for a long time activities in which they under-invested. This is beginning to change, as Greens and ex-communists of the Party of the European Left (PEL) increasingly embark on these activities. Particularly attractive to more activist parties of this type are the Europe-wide campaigning possibilities which their TNPs can coordinate. Both Greens and ex-communists have strong roots in civil society, the Greens via the social movements out of which their party came and the communists thanks to their connections with unions and other working class groups. Green officials have told us of their keenness to use the European Green Party (EGP) to coordinate Europe-wide campaigns on issues such as climate change. Ex-communist parties have to find a role for themselves now that the days of the ‘vanguard party’ are over; they focus increasingly on campaigns of extraparliamentary mobilisation, merging their efforts with, among others, the anti-globalisation movement. National party officials are keen to use the PEL as a coordinator and amplifier of such work. Such campaigning fits in easily with the PEL membership’s general hostility to further integration and its arguments in favour of a more social Europe. If the PEL is mainly dealing with older parties which are being recycled, so to speak, the Greens are concerned to build up parties of a new family. The European Green Party is seen by parties from Eastern and Central Europe in particular as a means of support and legitimation. Of particular interest is the close cross-frontier cooperation which, under EGP aegis, exists between the Czech Greens and their more experienced and better resourced sister-parties in Austria, Bavaria and Saxony. The cases of the Greens and ex-communists thus reveal another paradox. The Greens generally favour more integration (with notable exceptions, such as
Interview with author, November 2005.
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the English or Scandinavians), including within their own TNP. The ex-communists strive to resist such developments, believing they can best exert influence at national level. Yet both are able to use the new opportunity of a TNP to press their strategies, countervailing though these may be.
Panebianco’s ideas about how parties grab any opportunity to survive or grow. They show the importance of political opportunity structures. Here are national parties seizing a transnationally generated chance to fund actions whose ultimate purpose is to counter transnationalism! Conclusion
The smallest party of all, the European Free Alliance–Democratic Party of the Peoples of Europe (EFA-DPPE), has the most difficult task. Its members are by definition active not at statewide level but within regions of nation-states, whose legitimacy they challenge to various degrees. For such parties—with few MEPs and, in most cases, little opportunity to share in regional government—membership of a TNP is about belonging to a shared community of minorities, about mutual support and publicity, and learning from each others’ experiences. Once they had seen, after initial coolness, that the EU could be an opportunity to outflank or gain leverage on those nation-states whom they contested, regionalists were among the earliest to invest in transnational structures. In the Europe of Regions to which most of them aspire, such collaboration seems more natural. A final, intriguing case is the Eurosceptic family, incarnated in the Independence and Democracy Group in the EP. On the face of it, such a group is an accidental coming together of parties who want either to quit the EU or to downsize its activities considerably. It might be thought that such parties would simply form an EP group in order to play a spoiling role. Certainly, many of them disapprove on moral or political grounds of the idea of public money being used to finance European parties. Recent developments suggest a change in attitude, however. At time of writing, two would-be parties from this group have applied for registration under the Statute. Interviews with officials suggest that the eventual TNP structures (if the applications are accepted) will be minimal, with the funding being used to fuel anti-integration campaigns in Member States. This runs parallel to what the PEL is doing. Both cases powerfully demonstrate
These few selected and generalised examples only hint at the complex ways in which national parties can relate to their TNPs. We have treated the problem at the party family level. Obviously if one went down a further level and looked at individual national parties inside each family, an even wider variety of cases would arise. For the present, we can offer limited conclusions. All party families find membership of a TNP useful for various basic functions. The primary one is identity-building and consolidation, via the decantation of new members; TNPs are the major means of ‘keeping it within the family’. But networking and providing fora for reflection are also important. Beyond that, divergences begin to creep in. We may briefly speculate about some of the reasons for this diversity. Size is not all-important: there is no automatic correlation between how big a TNP is and how its members view it. The PES is one of the biggest and, on the level of identity, best integrated, but members seem reluctant to let it develop. The EPP has also built up its bulk, but that does not attract automatically, as the UK Tories show. And, arguing a contrario, smaller parties like those of the PEL long scorned the idea of a TNP, seeing no advantage in joining their efforts. Yet the even smaller regionalists were always keen. Closeness to government does not always affect parties’ attitude to TNPs in the same way. Most members of the centre-right EPP are ‘natural parties of government’ and have found the networking of the EPP—even (especially?) when they are in opposition—to be highly useful. Yet the UK Conservatives are an exception to
this rule. The age of parties is no guide, either. The ex-communists belong to an old family but took a long time to accept the idea of a TNP. The Greens, much younger, have gravitated to transnational solutions much more quickly. The radicalism, real or presumed, of party families is no guide either to their transnational postures. Both the ex-communists and Greens are radical in quite different ways but arrive at opposing conclusions so far as the purpose of TNPs is concerned. One could develop all these lines of argument further, but a preliminary conclusion might run as follows. For the present, TNPs exist for all the families; limited but real use is being made of them. Within this very general parameter, there are, as we have seen, some variations across party families and, though this is outside the scope of this paper, between different national parties in the same family. Such genuinely transnational activity as there is has developed because national parties have at different times decided to let some of their functions go to these limited transnational agents. Given the present mood of mistrustful intergovernmentalism in Europe, it is likely to be some time before this situation develops and the TNPs move on to a further stage of development.
David Hanley is a Professor in the School of European Studies at Cardiff University.
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The Emergence of a Transnational European Party System1 By Thomas Jansen
Public political debate and decision-making are basic to a democracy, a system that enshrines the citizen’s right to become personally involved if he or she so wishes. It is fundamental that people see the community in which they live as their business and feel comfortable with that fact. The same goes for the European Union, whose success depends on its citizens’ participation and consent. There are arguments about what shape the Union should take and competition for power in and between EU institutions. It is therefore essential that these debates take place out in the open. This public debate is carried on by the rival political parties. As European integration deepens, such parties represent a vital social force. But if they are to be effective they need to organise themselves to represent the will and the interests of their constituents among Union citizens. What are European parties? Article 191 of the Treaty on European Union states: “Political parties at European level are important factors of integration in the Union. They contribute to developing a European consciousness, and to expressing the political will of the citizens of the Union.” Formulations along these lines can be found in the draft European Constitution solemnly signed in Rome on 28 October 2004 by the European Union heads of state and government. Under the rubric ‘Democratic Life of the Union’, Article 46/4 reads: “Political parties at European level contribute to forming European political awareness and to expressing the 1
will of Union citizens.” Article II-72/2 (in the Charter of Fundamental Rights) develops the idea by stating: “Political parties at Union level contribute to expressing the political will of the Union’s citizens.” But what are these political parties at European level, or as we call them, ‘European parties’? Any definition must be based on observing the political structures that have called themselves European parties since their appearance during the final decade of the twentieth century, though in fact their origins go back to the 1970s. We are speaking about federal associations of national or regional parties from several Member States of the European Union. They are in agreement about their orientation and objectives, and are committed to permanent cooperation on the basis of an agreed statute and to a political programme decided by the relevant political bodies. Their terrain is the political system of the Union, and their deputies belong to the same groups in the European Parliament. This definition of European parties covers the federations of traditional political families organised at Union level: the Social Democrats, the Christian Democrats and Liberal Democrats, the European Greens, and the European Alliance Party. In terms of their structure and modus operandi, as well as their ambition and field of operations, they are transnational. How they see themselves and also how they behave is an indication of their importance as actors in the Union’s political system—a system they take responsibility to shape and develop. Other political forces represented in the European Parliament have not been able to organise
This contribution is based on the introduction of the author’s book The European People’s Party: Origins and Development (Brussels 2006). Published by the EPP; also available in German, French, Italian and Spanish.
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themselves effectively thus far, either because they have been fixated on national politics or because they have not wanted to merge into a supranational alliance for reasons of political ideology. The rise of European parties Already at an early stage, the main political parties in the six European Community founding states had begun to cooperate with like-minded sister parties in other countries. From the late 1940s and through the 1950s, European party families began to form, trying to reach agreement among themselves and increasingly acting in concert. One of the fruits of this gradual integration came in the mid-1970s, and the approach of the first direct elections to the European Parliament (EP) in 1979 saw the establishment of the first properly constituted federations of parties. The challenge of the European elections pushed the Liberals, along with the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats, to set up panEuropean organisations.2 Notable enthusiasts were those Members of the European Parliament who, as early as 1952, had formed parliamentary groups in the Parliamentary Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), and again in the European Parliament of 1958 following the foundation of the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Community (EAC). These groups all felt an increasing need to be able to rely on ‘European’ parties. 3 With the approach of direct elections, the national parties had an interest in running a coordinated European election campaign. The national parties also hoped to benefit from the publicity which might possibly accrue from belonging to a supranational organisation.
The opportunities afforded by this kind of confederation in Community politics were obvious, even at this early stage. The intensive work done by party confederations on political programmes during the run-up to the first European elections4 continued and intensified with subsequent EP elections (held at five-year intervals). EP deputies cooperating in the various groups increasingly came to rely on jointly developed programmes. All are either individually or personally connected to the party federations. The implied harmonisation process between the different member parties had implications for the identities of national parties, and also for how they presented themselves to the voters. This process of coming together had an observable effect on how national parties and/ or their leaders saw the European parties and how they projected that identity outwards. If they were to arrive at common views and positions, more and more national party leaders recognised that they needed to discuss general political issues with partners beyond their own national borders. Important issues could not be dealt with in the context of the respective European Parliament groups: issues such as the agenda of the European Council, the fundamental direction of foreign and security policy, sociopolitical developments and their implications for their party programmes, and how to organise transnational cooperation itself. More or less systematic cooperation between like-minded parties brought with it progressively elaborate organisational and communications structures. In this context, it was logical to include in the Maastricht Treaty of the early 1990s a clause (mentioned above) ascribing a special role in the integration process to
Cf. Institut für Europäische Politik (publ.): Zusammenarbeit der Parteien in Westeuropa. Auf dem Wege zu einer neuen politischen Infrastruktur? (Vol 43/44, Institut für Europäische Politik), Bonn 1976; Theo Stammen: Parteien in Europa. Nationale Parteiensysteme. Transnationale Parteienbeziehungen. Konturen eines europäischen Parteiensystems, Munich 1977. 3 Cf. Norbert Gresch, Transnationale Parteienenarbeit in der EG, Baden-Baden 1978, see pp. 23ff. 4 Cf. Martin Bangemann et al., Programme für Europa. Die Programme der Europäischen Parteienenbünde zur Europawahl 1979, Bonn 1978; Eva-Rose Karnofski, Parteienbünde vor der Europawahl 1979, Bonn 1982. Cf. Eberhard Grabitz & Thomas Läufer, Das Europäische Parlament, Bonn 1980, see pp. 295ff. 2
“political parties at European level.” This was the first constitutional recognition that the development of European party structures was necessary to the process of continuing European integration and a functioning transnational political system. Soon enough this led to the expectation (fully justified, as became clear a few years later) that fully developing the European Community’s political system would involve the rise of a transnational party system. This would be a key element in shaping the integration process, as well as in the future constitutional order of the Community. In anticipation of the European Community becoming an authentic political union, the development of transnational party families in the early 1990s led to the creation of the following European parties5: • the European Social Democratic Party, established in 1992 when the Federation of Social Democratic Parties in the European Community (founded in 1974) rewrote its statutes; 6 • the Democratic Party (ESP), formed when the Reformists and Radicals sought an alliance with the European Liberal and Democratic Reform Party (ELDR); • the European People’s Party (EPP), which had declared its intention of becoming a European party from the start, when it was founded in 1976, agreed on new statutes in November 1990 that made this ambition crystal clear; 7 • the European Liberal and Democratic Reform Party (ELDR), formed in 1993 out of the Federation of European Liberals and Democrats (founded in 1976); 8 • the European Federation of Green Parties, set
up in the summer of 1993 as a pan-European association but one whose framework was supposed to permit bringing these likeminded parties together at Union level; 9 • the European Free Alliance/Democratic Party of European Peoples, which evolved in the second half of the 1990s into a federation of parties committed to ethnic and regional issues. 10 At the same time, new alliances were gradually formed. However, it was not until the political and ideological sea change of 1989 that these were formalised. Both British and Scandinavian Conservative parties felt increasingly drawn to the EPP and eventually joined the EPP parliamentary group. The former Liberal party in Portugal—though actually called the Social Democratic Party—followed, and after them the French Liberals and Gaullists11. The Italian Communists found their way into the European Social-Democratic Party (ESP). The Reformists and Radicals sought an alliance with the European Liberal and Democratic Reform Party (ELDR). The parties in the European Union’s political system That the European parties are not—or do not appear to be—as relevant and effective as national parties in the Member States derives from the fact that power in the Union did not and still does not derive from the European Parliament, but from national governments who owe their legitimacy and power to national parliaments. This means that political parties will, for the foreseeable future, remain more effective in influencing constitutional and legislative developments at a national rather
Cf. Thomas Jansen, ‘Zur Entwicklung Supranationaler Europäischer Parteien’, in: Oscar W. Gabriel et al. (Eds.), Der Demokratische Verfassungsstaat. Theorie, Geschichte, Probleme. Festschrift für Hans Buchheim, Munich 1992, pp. 241ff. 6 Cf. Pascal Delwit: Les partis socialistes et l’intégration européenne, Brussels 1995; www.pse.org. 7 Cf. Thomas Jansen: The European People’s Party. Origins and Development, Brussels 2006; www.epp-eu.org. 8 www.eldr.org. 9 Cf. Thomas Dietz: Die grenzüberschreitende Interaktion grüner Parteien in Europa, Cologne 1997, www.europeangreens.org. 10 www.efa-ddp.org. These European Parliament deputies have been members of the European Greens’ group since 1999. 11 Cf. Karl Magnus Johansson: Transnational Party Alliances. Analysing the Hard-won Alliance between Conservatives and Christian Democrats in the European Parliament, Lund 1997; Thomas Jansen: ‘The Integration of the Conservatives into the European People’s Party’ in: David S. Bell & Christopher Lord (Eds.): Transnational Parties in the European Union, Aldershot 1998. 5
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than transnational European level. National governments acting as constitution and lawmakers in the European Council have been fairly adept at preventing the European Parliament from being able to exercise much influence or control. This has essentially been achieved by exploiting the fact that European affairs have remained a matter for foreign ministries, and European policy has therefore been conducted by the governments like foreign policy. What has changed is that the political parties are now developing their structures and deploying resources in line with the Constitution. Their efforts are therefore confined to building up their own joint, transnational structures and their own capacity to act effectively at Union level. All this takes place within a framework progressively defined by what is required of them by European integration and its institutionalisation. Yet looking back over the process of Europeanisation to which national political parties in the EU were subject during the 1990s, it is nevertheless clear that the rhythm of their development and what resulted was in fact largely something that they—the parties or their political alliances—determined themselves: • by the degree to which they accepted or rejected the process of Europeanisation, in itself a measure of their capacity to shape this process; • by the role of their political groups in the European Parliament and how vigorously they articulated a common political will; • by their political programmes and their ability to shape a supranational consensus while including specifically national social forces. The gradual emergence of a European political culture and the sensibility that goes with it helped accelerate the Europeanisation of the party system. The transnational cooperation institutionalised in the European parties, had its effect, too, on the mentality and behaviour
of the leading figures in national party politics. To political parties operating at Union level, it became obvious that political parties needed to be present if they were to look after their interests there, have an influence or actively help shape the political architecture of Europe. 12 The result is the blending of parties that had formerly been exclusively national organisations and their political work as European parties. Bodies are created that operate in much the same way as most of their member parties. A congress of delegates decides on the political programme; an executive committee deals with current issues and day-to-day business; a chairman (supported by a party presidium or board) speaks for the party and represents it; a secretary-general (supported by a secretariat) is in charge of internal communication and the technical and organisational work necessary to ensure the party bodies can operate properly; this individual is also responsible for implementing what these bodies decide. 13 Following the example of similar structures adopted by some of their member parties, the European parties have gone on to establish transnational cooperative associations for certain categories of members. These include youth associations and organisations for women and for workers. The aim is to give the European parties a broader social base and to root themselves among their memberships by disseminating their political programmes within the various milieux of the national parties. The European parties do not only have political groups in the European Parliament. They are also present in the Committee of the Regions and in the Council of Europe Assembly, endeavouring in each case to promote the programmes of their respective parties. This was also the case at the European Convention (2002/2003). Members that belonged to the different European parties or were politically close to them developed
Cf. Oscar Niedermayer: Europäische Parteien? Zur grenzüberschreitenden Interaktion politischer Parteien im Rahmen der Europäischen Gemeinschaft, Frankfurt am Main and New York 1983. On the activities and development of European parties, see the contribution on party alliances and/or European parties in: Werner Weidenfeld & Wolfgang Wessels (Eds.): Yearbook of European Integration, Bonn. Published regularly since 1980.
informal political groups. Their contributions, and above all their success in integrating across national lines, contributed substantially to the fact that a consensus was reached on a draft Constitution. Moreover, European parties regularly bring together national party leaders (as well as heads of government and foreign ministers who belong to their member parties) for consultations on the European Council agenda or other issues requiring top-level discussion and decisionmaking. Over the course of the 1990s, these meetings became increasingly important, in itself testimony to the growing significance of European parties as they become more adept at organising joint action by their members. The European parties are neither capable of copying any particular national model nor willing to do so, because they are not organised in the same uniform way at each level (state, region and municipality). They respect the maturity and proven qualities of member parties’ existing structures, building on them and depending on them. In other words, we are discussing federal parties seeking to organise the joint activities of their members at European level and ensure that their efforts are politically effective. The definition of the European parties as federal associations of national parties describes developments until now. European parties are indeed federations whose members “are committed, in order to realize common political goals, to permanent cooperation on the basis of an agreed statute, and to a political programme decided by the relevant political bodies.” The Maastricht Treaty: Article 138A On 1 July 1991, a joint letter was sent to the presidents of the European Council, the Council of Ministers, the European Parliament and the European Community Commission by the chairmen of the Federation of European Liberals, Democrats, and Reformers (ELDR), the 14
European People’s Party (EPP), and the Union of Socialist Parties of the European Community (USP). The letter called for a clause on the role of European Parties in shaping political consensus and political will to be written into the Treaty on European Union. 14 The initiative for this letter came from the president of the EPP, the Belgian prime minister Wilfried Martens. It proved easy enough for him to convince his two colleagues and compatriots, the Liberal Willy De Clerq and the Socialist Guy Spitaels, of the proposal’s significance. As the letter said, the intention was “explicitly to emphasise the role of European parties in the process of integration and of democratising the European Union’s political system.” The chairmen of the three European parties (or party confederations) proposed the following clause be included in the Treaty in order to make it possible “to establish a European legislative system in the medium term ... which would give European parties a context for their work.” European Parties are essential to integration within the Union. They are integral to building consensus and expressing the political will of the citizens of the Union. European parties are the federative associations of national parties with a presence in the majority of EU Member States, sharing the same aims and political direction, and forming a single group in the European Parliament. They must give a public account of where their funding comes from. On 6 December 1991, the eve of the meeting of the European Council, an EPP ‘Summit’ of party and government leaders took place in The Hague. On the basis of a report by Ruud Lubbers, there was a detailed discussion about the aims of the Maastricht Treaty and how far preparations had got. 15 Wilfried Martens, who chaired the EPP Summit, proposed a series of points that had
Party leaders’ letter, from W. Martens, D. Spitaels and W. De Clercq: EPP General Secretariat archive. Communiqué 12 December 1991: EPP General Secretariat Archive.
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remained open during preparations for the Intergovernmental Conference and which the EPP regarded as essential. He presented these to the meeting, in each case making sure he had the expli- cit backing of the heads of government in the room.16 Among these points was the draft article on European parties. Martens got the green light: all the Christian Democratic leaders agreed to insist that the clause be in the text of the Treaty. There was no resistance to Martens’ proposals at the Maastricht European Council. Only the Portuguese prime minister, Anibal Cavaco Silva, asked for clarification, and he was satisfied with the answer. The European Council then agreed without further intervention. However, the wording of the article remained open. It was supposed to be left to the conference of diplomats entrusted with editing the decisions and agreed texts of the Maastricht ‘summit’. Article 138A of the Treaty on European Union, finally signed on 7 February 1992 by 12 foreign and finance ministers, reads as follows: Political parties at European level are important as factors for integration within the Union. They contribute to forming a European awareness and to expressing the political will of the citizens of the Union. It is worth noting that the definition contained in the party leaders’ proposal was not taken up, thus avoiding the laying down of a specific party model as the norm. 17 The European responsibility
The successful initiative by the three party
leaders did not fall out of the sky. It matured over a fairly long period, thanks to joint efforts. In 1989 the secretaries-general of the three party federations had begun meeting from time to time to talk about common problems and to exchange experiences. The result of these conversations was the idea of bringing their party presidents together and starting joint discussions on “the development and role of European parties or party federations in the Community’s political system”, and on “relations with the groups in the European Parliament.” 18 The first meeting of the party leaders Wilfried Martens, Guy Spitaels and Willy de Clercq was on 18 September 1990. They agreed to talk again and to hold a joint press conference just before the European Council met in Rome on 12 December 1990 to convene the Intergovernmental Conference on the Treaty on European Union (in other words, the further development of the Community’s political system). The three explicitly wanted to make a joint statement on this issue, to ensure their demand for a role for the European parties was firmly on the agenda. The communiqué released on 12 December following their second meeting declared that Since their foundation in the mid 1970s, the European People’s Party and the Union of Social-Democratic Parties in the European Community, and also the European Liberals and Democrats, have all in their own way made major contributions to European integration. Despite their political rivalry, and their opposed positions on numerous questions, both as regards content and method, all three European parties or federations of parties stress their common responsibility for the proper functioning
The following heads of government took part in the EPP ‘Summit’ in The Hague and in the meeting of the European Council in Maastricht: Ruud Lubbers, Helmut Kohl, Konstantine Mitsotakis, Guilio Andreotti, Jacques Santer and Wilfried Martens. 17 Tsatsos, op. cit. p. 49, regards this as a decision “against the pure confederation model” which he saw as the intention of party leaders’ proposal. The EPP’s consistent ambition has been to become a federative “European party”, an aim more recently echoed by the Socialists as well as the Liberals. The party leaders’ definition indirectly refers to this. But it does not refer to a confederation model. Rather—and this is quite clear, as Tsatsos rightly states—it is a reference to the same model one finds in Article 138A: “...one having its own European institutional subjectivity, and also permitting individual membership, either directly or indirectly through membership of a national party.” 18 Agenda for the meeting of 18 September 1990: EPP General Secretariat Archive. 16
of democracy and for the success of the European Union. To that end, they are working closely with their different political groups in the European Parliament. These groups play a major part in the continuing efforts to create a transnational consensus inside the different political families. They take it as read that, without parties to express the political will of the citizens, there is no democracy! This holds good at all levels of political representation, and logically for the European Community as well, and above all for the European Union. The federal and democratic union which is the goal of Social Democrats, Liberals, and Christian Democrats, must be a vital community, one in which the citizens feel at home. So the European parties or transnational federations of parties have an indispensable role which only they can fulfil. It is a role which is essential if a broad consensus is to be created, and if the effectiveness of the European institutions themselves is to be guaranteed. 19 Further meetings between the party presidents and secretaries-general during 1991 served to prepare the 1 July initiative and to spread the word about it; the follow-up was also discussed on these occasions. Article 138A of the Maastricht Treaty articulates the recognition that if the further unification of Europe is to be successful and a transnational government system is to be effective, then the further development of European party structures is crucial. At the same time, this constitutional recognition of the role and function of the parties serves as an important basis for future efforts. The existence of political parties at European level is recognised. Parties are accorded the task of advancing the process of integration, building a European consciousness, and expressing “the
will of the citizens of the Union”. It is a matter of “a framework of rules which allow for a number of concrete possibilities.” 20 Following the signing of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, several meetings of the three party leaders took place over the course of that year. Also present were the chairmen of the political groups and the president of the European Parliament. Everything turned on the question of what was to be done to breathe life into Article 138A, and who was to do it. Two sets of problems loomed large, inextricably bound together but perhaps needing to be dealt with separately. These were completing the picture with a law or statute on parties, and the possibility created by the new treaty situation of financing European parties with Community funds. Establishing a legal status for European parties It soon became clear to those taking part that because of legal uncertainty, and also for reasons of political culture and morality, the financial question could not be posed until a number of conditions had been met. Unambiguous, legally binding rules about the organisation, activity and behaviour (including the conduct of public finances) of European parties had to be in place. Even leaving aside the question of financing the parties, it was felt that rules of this kind had become an urgent necessity. Such a European parties statute would have to define such concepts as “European parties” and “political parties at European level.” Exactly what are their tasks? What rules apply to their structure, working methods and finances? This statute would have to define the essentials clearly enough for an independent, inter-institutional authority or the European Court to be able to identify a political party at European level under Article 138A.
Communiqué 12 December 1991: EPP General Secretariat Archive (author’s translation from the French original). Tsatsos, loc. cit. p. 52.
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The European Parliament’s Institutional Affairs Committee felt these issues were its business and in May 1996 requested the MEP Dimitros Th. Tsatsos to prepare a report. By the summer it was ready, and after debate and amendment in committee, it was approved by a large majority in the December 1996 plenary session. The resolution accompanying the report calls for directives about both the legal status and the financial circumstances of the European parties. 21 This demand was in vain, at least for the time being. However, the report did encourage more rational debate in the European Parliament between the political groups and parties. This in turn contributed significantly to the agreement reached a few years later, when discussion about the future European Union Constitution had become both more lively and more profound. In December 2000, at the instigation of the European Commission, EU heads of state and government decided, within the framework of the Nice Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) and on the basis of a Commission proposal, to introduce a clause in Article 191, Paragraph 2 of the EU Treaty with the following regulation, which could serve as the basis for agreement on a statute for European parties: In accordance with the procedures set out in Article 251, the Council is setting out the regulations for political parties at European level, and in particular rules about their financing. An explanatory statement appended to the final act of the IGC states that this regulation does not justify the transfer of any competencies whatsoever to the European Community; that it does not compromise the validity of rules deriving from national constitutions; that the direct or indirect use of funds from the Community budget for national political parties is prohibited; and finally, that the financial
regulations should apply equally to all political forces represented in the European Parliament. The origin of this proposal was a joint effort by the transnational party families represented in the European Parliament. From the sidelines of the European Council summit in Feira, Portugal, in June 2000, they agreed to call for the following passage to be inserted into the Treaty: On a proposal by the Commission, European Parliament and Council decide on regulations on recognising political parties, on a statute for them, on their financing.
the will the and
It was generally supposed that the heads of state and government had given their blessing to the party leaders’ agreement, and so there were good grounds for supposing that the IGC would accept a proposal from the Commission along these lines. Exactly why were the party leaders able to reach agreement and act together? They ranged from the European People’s Party (EPP), the Party of European Socialists (PES) and the European Liberals and Democratic Reform Party (ELDR) to the European Federation of Green parties and the European Free Alliance/Democratic Party of the Peoples of Europe, along with their parliamentary groups. The reason was simply that they all found themselves in the same quandary: all had received a warning from the European Court of Auditors. The court had stated in a report that the parties were being financially supported, in part directly, from the parliamentary groups’ budgets, i.e. out of the budget of the European Parliament. This was out of order and had to stop. Suddenly the question of rules on European party finances became very urgent. But first the legal status of the parties within the European
Commission proposal, 21 June 2000 on the institution IGC. COM (2001) 343 final. See also EP resolution A5-0167/2001 (Schleicher report).
Union’s political and institutional system had to be resolved. And until that happened, questions about party finances could not be decided either. In January 2001, the European Commission had already drafted a European party statute and finance rules based on the new regulation in the Treaty. This provided for a budget line of seven million euros. However, the parties were not to be allowed to benefit from such funding unless all their financial dealings were subject in their entirety to the scrutiny of the Court of Auditors. This would apply even if only part of their spending came from Community funds. Conditions were also set out for a party to qualify as a European party under the terms of the Treaty. In May 2001 the European Parliament agreed a position based on a report by Ursula Schleicher MEP. The proposed amendments were for the most part included in a Revised Draft Council Directive on a statute and financing for political parties. 22 After the Council of Ministers failed to reach agreement, the European Commission proposed a Draft Directive by the European Parliament and the Council for a statute and financing for European political parties in February 2003. This accounted for what had been said in the discussions over the two previous years. Meanwhile, the Nice Treaty had come into force. This meant the Co-decision Procedure could be applied, and the unanimity requirement for a decision by the Council fell away. Within only a few weeks, a working document report by the rapporteur Jo Leinen MEP set out the arguments for the European Parliament to consider when they debated the draft directive. And at the June plenary session, the statute for European parties was duly adopted; the Council of Ministers agreed on the text at the same time. 23
The statute creates a framework for financing European parties with a right to such support: those with deputies in the European Parliament, or which are represented in at least a third of the Member States in either national or regional parliaments. Parties that have won at least five per cent of the votes in the previous European elections also qualify. Those parties that take up such public financing from the Union budget must prove that their values correspond to those of the European Union. Strict rules govern donations and financial dealings, which can be inspected by the Court of Auditors. The European Parliament is responsible for ensuring that the rules governing eligibility for finance are kept. It has the right to disqualify parties that disobey the rules from receiving further funding. The relationship between European parties and member parties The vitality of a European party and its possibilities for substantial development depend on its national (or regional) member parties’ ability to articulate a common political will, as well as on their willingness to act together. Indeed, a European party cannot be more than what its member parties make of it. And that will not automatically correspond to what individual member parties would like it to be. Ideas about what a European party should be or achieve will vary considerably between member parties. People normally orient themselves by what they know—their own national party and whatever European or transnational sensibility they happen to possess. There are also various conceptions of what ‘party’ means. Member parties’ internal organisation reflects not only their respective histories, but also the constitution of the national state in which they work. For instance, it makes a difference in the attitude of delegates from member parties towards their European party if their domestic tradition and culture are federal. The role of the party
Proposal of 21 June 2001—COM (2001) final. See also EP resolution A5-1067/2001 (Schleicher Report) Proposal COM (2003) 77; working document of the Committee on Institutional Affairs—DT\488199DE.doc; Directive (EG) No. 2004/2003 of the European Parliament and Council of 4 November 2003 on regulation governing political parties at European level and their financing—EU Official Journal L 297/15 November 2003.
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chairman allows for many different possibilities. He or she can be managing director, moderator, cheerleader, president or party boss. The role of the secretary-general also varies. In some parties this person is an official, an administrator or a supervisor, in other parties a political leader. For these reasons ‘actually existing’ European parties cannot conform to the ideal imagined by some. The parties develop in an open force field and are subject to a kaleidoscope of different influences. An element of all these different kinds of national party will leave a trace in the European parties. Eventually, they must be something essentially different. Yet to a greater or lesser extent, member parties expect the European parties to conform to the preconceptions they have brought from home. So there is often an inclination to adjust their image and achievements according to domestic criteria. This explains the tendency to exploit the European parties to advance national party interests, or to measure their value by their direct usefulness in particular situations. These reflexes are typical during the transition to a new political system, a phase when new kinds of behaviour are still unfamiliar and old experiences remain the model. One of the principal problems for the European parties is the difficulty of communicating between the European and national levels. This is a fact, and it is also determined by their different structures. It affects the parties’ political effectiveness and their possibilities for organisational development. The number of politicians and officials working at European level is still fairly small. National party headquarters have many times the personnel, operational capacity and financial resources available to the European party secretariats. Inadequate equipment makes regularly supplying comprehensive information and communication with member parties in the various languages impossible. As for spreading the word to the wider public, this is not yet feasible.
The number of journalists reporting on what is going on in Brussels, Strasbourg and Luxembourg is unhealthily small compared to the number of radio, television and print correspondents in national capitals. This numerical imbalance has direct consequences both for how European politics is perceived, and the extent to which it is accepted. Public opinion is still shaped by national perspectives. Procedures on the EU political stage are extraordinarily complex. To understand, to gain insight, to be able to make judgements—all these require knowledge and experience which, as a rule, are not acquired by politicians working in a national context. Moreover, those politicians and officials working at European level inevitably develop other priorities than those whose area of responsibility is either national or regional—and vice versa. The European sense of responsibility, which must take into consideration situations in several countries at the same time, means that European politicians often take positions that put them into real or apparent conflict with party friends in their own country. The willingness to compromise, necessary for any serious or effective European political work, is often greeted with incomprehension. And it is only very gradually becoming natural for national parliamentarians and politicians to take into account the European dimension of the problems with which they are engaged and on which they have to make decisions. The reason for this is simply that national and European politics are more and more interwoven. The European parties often feel they have been left in the lurch by their member parties. The fact that they are scarcely mentioned in the national media means that the contribution of ‘the Europeans’ is often ignored and therefore unrecognised. That in turn encourages the tendency on the part of some national politicians to dismiss any commitment to a European party and its activities as a kind of luxury and the transnational party structures as merely decorative.
Prospects The tendency to underestimate the potential of European parties is dwindling as political life becomes more Europeanised. This especially goes for national and even regional politics. Increasingly, European solutions are expected for the kind of knotty internal and social issues that burden Member States. And that is changing the way people see the role and significance of EU institutions. The European Parliament has been able to strengthen its position substantially over the last few decades. It can deal with and articulate the concerns of European citizens. It can also speak plainly, since it makes decisions by majority voting, and—beyond mere diplomacy—come to agreements on concrete measures and policies. It will steadily become more meaningful and influential as the European Union’s constitutional development continues, notably through the proposed European Constitution. The political class, primarily in national parliaments and national parties but eventually also in the public life of Member States, is beginning to realise that the European parties are indispensable. They have very particular means of influencing and acting politically. The Europeanisation of the party system is advancing in step with the Union’s constitutional development. The two main camps, the Social Democratic/Socialist PES and the Christian Democratic/Conservative EPP, continue to be poles of attraction for like-minded forces. Moderates on the Left/Centre-Left are progressively gathering together under the umbrella of the PES, and those of the Right/ Centre-Right under that of the EPP. This corresponds to what European politics needs, a broad supranational consensus. Only transnational parties or parliamentary groups with such a broad social and cultural rootedness are in a position to organise that kind of consensus. Moreover, bringing in political forces is in the
interests of national parties whose voters share the views or interests of the EPP and PES. If they are to operate at European level, then they must belong to a multinational parliamentary group, one that is as supranational as possible, one that can implement changes. On the agenda is the development of people’s parties that are essentially free of ideology. The key point of these parties is no longer the ideologies of the elites, but the politico-cultural needs and economic and social interests of those who vote for them. The progress made over the last decade in establishing a legal basis and proper role of European parties in the EU political system needs to be seen in the wider context of the new arrangements agreed to in the treaties of Maastricht (1992), Amsterdam (1996), and Nice (2000). One example is the Union’s obligation to be democratic and to respect human rights and freedom, and the rule of law (Article 6 of the Treaty on European Union). These provisions, agreed upon at Maastricht, were a milestone on the road from a union of states to a union of citizens. The regulations on freedom of movement and on asylum and immigration have a similar significance. Taken together with the concept of guaranteeing internal security within the European Union, these are further vital elements in creating a union of citizens. Equivalent comments could be made about regulations aimed at giving the European Parliament more rights of co-decision; or about simplifying decision-making procedures, which promises greater transparency; or finally, about tightening up the rules about who in the Union does what, at which level—and takes responsibility for it—which is a guarantee of greater subsidiarity. All these elements were systemically taken up and consolidated in the draft Constitution drawn up by the European Convention. Profound changes can be expected over the next few years in the EU’s political system. These are likely to produce
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a much more democratic and transnational kind of debate. The European Parliamentâ€™s position will be greatly strengthened as a result. And it is evident that the role of the European parties will also grow as a result of this process. This debate, and the process of reaching agreement and consensus, will be played out through the structures made available by the transnational parties. The statute adopted in June 2003 gave formal shape to the European parties. It gave an enormous boost to their significance. But another longer-term effect is likely to be the normalisation of the European Union system, which we can expect to become both more democratic and more federal.
Thomas Jansen is a former Secretary General of the European Peopleâ€™s Party (1983â€“94).
European Parties and Their Role in Building Democracy: The Case of the Western Balkans By Kostas Karamanlis The transition process in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe that started after 1989 has undoubtedly been an extremely complicated task. Indeed, the political leadership and the citizenry of those states were faced with a great number of political, economic and social problems that had to be solved in a relatively short period of time. The vision of establishing a free democratic society has been the main driving force. However, the complexity of the issues involved and the heavy burden of decades of undemocratic rule led to many backlashes. It would be no exaggeration to claim that the developments in the Western Balkans epitomised in the most dramatic way the difficulties of creating functioning political and economic institutions in a stable societal and state framework. Democratisation is not a clear-cut process that leads from an authoritarian to a democratic regime. It is a multifaceted challenge that requires the synergy of many interdependent elements and processes on the basis of a culture of citizen participation in public affairs. Democracy building, even if assisted by external actorsâ€”as is the case in the Western Balkansâ€” must primarily be the work of those most directly involved. Building sustainable democracies necessitates an understanding of the functioning of formal and informal state and social structures. It requires deep experience and thorough knowledge of local contexts, cultures and traditions and the dynamics of a countryâ€™s politics. There are no ready-made models. Each case is unique and should be an essential part of the overall strategy. Democracy building also includes
reconciliation processes, through which coexistence between former rivals must be made possible. Inter-ethnic tensions, extreme political tendencies, corruption and organised crime are the common denominators and major obstacles to building democratic institutional capacity in these societies. The importance of a stable party system A stable party system is essential for both the emergence and the consolidation of liberal democracies. Conversely, a strong and consolidated democracy is dependent to a large extent on well-functioning political parties and their role in sustaining democratic procedures. Political parties are crucial in representing the people and expressing their demands; aggregating interests, needs and aspirations within society and translating them into political programmes; presenting political alternatives and different ideologies; nominating candidates; forming a link between the voters and those elected; and forming a government or holding governments accountable. Essentially, political parties help to educate and socialise the people into pluralistic political processes. Political parties can also play a very significant role beyond domestic politics. In post-conflict regions like the Western Balkans where interethnic tensions have resulted in many problems in the recent past, it is very important that social actors discuss and develop common strategies and approaches to regional problems. These discussions will help overcome suspicion and promote understanding. They can reinforce the conviction that, regardless of their differences, these social actors have a common future and a duty to move ahead. Today there is an increasing understanding in
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Western Balkan countries that their cooperation is indispensable for regional stability and a prerequisite for their EU aspirations. Good neighbourly relations complement the wellknown Copenhagen criteria. The comprehensive fulfilling of the abovementioned preconditions is the passport for accession to the European Union, and, conversely, the prospect of accession to the EU is the major driving force for the achievement of democratisation. In this context, multilateral cooperation among parties at regional level can also prove very beneficial. Acknowledging the indispensability of political parties to the democratisation process in these societies, European transnational parties sought to offer their assistance to educate and reform parties from post-conflict societies and those in transition as a contribution to democracy building in these countries. The aim was to assist political parties to become effective agents of representation and democratisation. This was particularly important since major problems in the functioning of political parties had impeded the democratisation process. Engaging in this process would in return benefit transnational parties in that it would help them become acquainted with their future partners within the EU, advance understanding between them and local parties, and promote their ideas to these groups. For Greece, this was not an unfamiliar process. Although from very different starting points and in different circumstances, Greece has also experienced a democratisation process in its modern history. For the EU, too, this was not the first time that it had to assist such a process of democratisation of prospective Member States and to support the consolidation of those states’ democratic structures. For the EU countries of the South, namely Portugal, Spain and Greece, the early 1970s saw the collapse of authoritarian regimes, the end of political underdevelopment and the beginning of a new era for their societies. Differences in historical and political developments among the three notwithstanding,
there were shared goals: to put an end to isolation, to put in place strong safeguards for the consolidation of democracy, to achieve economic and social convergence with the rest of the EEC Member States and ultimately to join the European family. The parallels with the challenges that faced the former communist part of Europe in the early 1990s are obvious. Hence for Greece, an immediate neighbour to the region with keen interest in its reconstruction and uninterrupted development, her own experience could thus serve as the guiding force to assist and support similar processes in its neighbourhood. Particularly for Nea Demokratia, the party that took on the burden of and the historical responsibility for sealing the end of the dictatorship and establishing democracy in Greece, support for its political partners in the region was a historical debt and duty. More importantly, the role of the European People’s Party was to prove instrumental in this matter. The EPP and the Western Balkans The European People’s Party (EPP) has promptly realised that the future of the Western Balkans lies within the EU and that the transformation of these societies into well-functioning democracies should be our foremost priority. In this context, the EPP has maintained that European transnational parties could play a pivotal role in building and consolidating democratic institutions in these countries, and it has steadfastly assumed its responsibility. Since parties are major actors in democratic processes, the EPP, the biggest European transnational party, stands ready to contribute to this effort in every way possible. More than any other European region, the Western Balkans need our assistance in order to overcome, as soon as possible, the traumas inflicted by a decade of conflicts, social unrest and economic instability. To that end, the European People’s Party adopted a focused and multi-dimensional policy on the region at a very early stage. Responding to this
great challenge, the member parties of the EPP and the European Democrat Union (EDU) set up the Western Balkan Democracy Initiative (WBDI).1 The Initiative was launched in Thessaloniki in July 1999. Representatives from all EPP and EDU member parties and their foundations as well as from like-minded parties in the Western Balkans agreed to work closely for the promotion of democracy in the region and the strengthening of inter-party relations. The Initiative’s main aim was (1) to establish a channel of communication and cooperation between the EPP-EDU parties, on the one hand, and like-minded political forces from the Western Balkans, on the other, and (2) to assist and encourage the strengthening of democratic structures and institutions and the party-building process. The Western Balkan Democracy Initiative in action Since the launching of the WBDI, three more conferences have been held: in Banja Luka in December 1999 and again in Thessaloniki in February 2000 and April 2002. During the February 2000 meeting, the Thessaloniki Declaration was adopted. It called for providing tangible support to our Western Balkan partners and for comprehensive measures to advance democratisation. For this purpose, the participants decided that a WBDI Secretariat should be established in Thessaloniki. At the enlarged EPP Summit in Sofia in April 2001, it was decided that the EPP would pay special attention to the development of democratic forces in the Western Balkan region. During the April 2002 meeting, a second Thessaloniki Declaration was adopted. It emphasised our support for a European future for the countries of the region and stressed our commitment to review developments regularly and strengthen our cooperation with the like-minded national parties. It also encouraged those fulfilling the criteria to apply for an EPP observer status. An initial step in this direction had been taken
almost a year before, which offered the EPP an opportunity to have a stronger political presence in the region and to contribute even more concretely to its integration into our political family, as well as that of the EU. Until then, likeminded parties coming from the Western Balkan region had not been institutionally eligible to acquire an EPP status. The EPP had embraced them through bilateral contacts and a number of projects of its sister parties’ foundations, but basically in the framework of its WBDI. Three of them also acquired EDU status. The EPP Berlin Congress of January 2001 amended its Statutes in a way that, for the first time, permitted them—if they fulfil the relevant criteria—to join our political family. In 2002 the first applications from parties from the Western Balkan countries were accepted. More of our WBDI partners were soon to follow, further enriching our EPP family. More recently this effort has become even more concrete. Today our political family embraces observers from Albania, Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro, and Bosnia-Herzegovina, some of which have been upgraded to associate members. In this way the EPP is spearheading the reform of the political life in these countries, and these parties will pioneer the advancement of European ideals in the region as the EPP parties are doing at European level. The main task of the WBDI was to assist the moderate centre and centre-right parties in the region in building a stable and functioning democracy, and to promote regional and international cooperation. More specifically our activities aimed at: • • •
strengthening the democratic structures and institutions in the region; assisting the party-building process in the Western Balkans; establishing a regional cooperation network in the region;
See The Western Balkan Democracy Initiative Report: Working Together, Moving Forward, European People’s Party, Athens, September 2002.
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encouraging moderate political forces to take part in the collaboration among European and international political organisations.
Our strategic goal has been to continue bringing the countries of the region closer to EU standards and to prepare them for eventual participation in the EU family. In the framework of the WBDI, the EPP as a whole, as well as its parties and foundations, engaged in a wide range of activities. These activities enabled us to gain valuable experience and to become acquainted with the parties of the region, and this has brought about a better understanding among us. The result has been the creation of an extensive party network. For the most part, four instruments were used: fact-finding missions, seminars, interregional conferences and publications. Within this context, the political education of party employees and activists and elected party officials, as well as city and regional councilors and MPs, has been an important tool for promoting an understanding of and adaptation to the rules and instruments necessary to strengthen the newly created party system of the states in the region. Experts from all Western Balkans countries received party training, local government training and national government training on political communication, democracy, free market structures, internet technology, etc. The main invitees to our training activities and seminars were leading members, activists and deputies of moderate democratic centre and centre-right parties from the local to the national and international levels, representatives of the partiesâ€™ youth and womenâ€™s organisations, media and e-media experts and editors, and party representatives to international organisations such as the CoE, the OSCE, the EU and the UN. The aim was to establish contacts, assist in the party formation process, cooperate with NGOs and bring all parties concerned together at international level. Since the launching conference in July 1999, a number of international meetings and seminars 60
have been organised. In January 2001, four foundations of EPP-EDU parties agreed to coordinate systematically their activities in the region. More specifically, the Constantinos Karamanlis Institute for Democracy (Greece), the Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation (Sweden), the Political Academy (Austria) and the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (UK) agreed to design and establish a common Training Programme. The programme consisted of a series of seminars and visits to the region that aimed at providing our Western Balkan partners with educational and technical support. The issues covered included media and campaign training, political communication and the development of ideological profiles for political parties. The programme also included helping participants become acquainted with EU and EPP policies. Meetings of the foundations cooperating with the WBDI were held in Rhodes in August 2001, in Brussels in September 2001 and in Thessaloniki and Vienna in April 2002. The development of democracy in the Western Balkans needed a systematic information effort which aimed at (1) helping the Western Balkan parties organise themselves more effectively and (2) making them familiar with the positions and practices of the EPP-EDU and their member parties. In addition to our training seminars, our initiative provided an information campaign. This included publications in the target countries designed to provide an overview of activities and to summarise and present the different topics, e.g. in the form of training handbooks for further activities undertaken by our project partners. The long-term target of the WBDI and, as I mentioned, our strategic goal was to bring the countries in the region closer to the EU. The WBDI offered the member parties of the EPP and the EDU a platform for bilateral and multilateral contacts to strengthen the ties between established European centre and centre-right parties and its partners in the region. It also offered them a channel to transmit EU experience and practices.
Towards a stronger South-East Europe Today, with the accession of the 10 new Member States to the EU, a pivotal step for the European integration process has been taken. However, we should keep in mind that the process is by no means over. We encourage Bulgaria and Romania to strengthen their efforts to meet their target date of joining the EU in 2007. Nevertheless, we should not forget that for some countries this process is still at a very early stage. A clear message needs to be sent that the integration process is still underway and that South-East Europe should profit from and follow the example of our 10 new partners. Particular emphasis has to be put on cooperation based on good neighbourliness, the inviolability of borders, the peaceful resolution of disputes, and respect for democratic values and the rule of law. The main aim of the next rounds of enlargement should be to make both war and the use of force unthinkable in SouthEast Europe. It is crystal clear that contributing to regional stability and promoting ‘good neighborly relations’ are critical preconditions for any aspirant country.
understanding, and we can ensure the success of further cooperation and engagement in the region. Certainly, the countries of the region need to take their own future in their own hands. However, the example of the EU has proved that closer cooperation is the only way forward. The need to expand regional cooperation is paramount. This goal can only be achieved if we all work towards the alleviation of harmful and unjustified suspicion. The European People’s Party can keep up the momentum of cooperation and consultation, offer solutions that have been tested in the EU countries and enhance the bonds between the EU and an important part of our continent.
Kostas Karamanlis is the Prime Minister of Greece.
Despite all the efforts that have been made so far and the undoubtedly substantial results, there is still a lot that needs to be done. Indeed, the struggle for an even better and well-functioning democracy is a never-ending process, and the efforts required are never ending as well. We should therefore continue to help the region in any way we can. Crime, human trafficking, corruption and, of course, the great burden of unemployment continue to plague these societies and to undermine the prospects for stability and growth. Our conviction, however, is that we can effectively meet the challenges and tackle the problems. The EPP has, on numerous occasions in the past, stressed the importance that it attaches to the Western Balkans’ European perspective. The EPP’s valuable legacy and its experience is that different perspectives can powerfully enrich our family. We have achieved a common Volume 3 - Spring 2006
Towards a European Political Public: The Role of Transnational European Parties By Ernst Kuper A central precondition for a political public is the existence of political actors (politicians, parties and lobby groups) who have more or less clear positions on political questions. They act within a framework which allows them to give information, whether facts or opinions, to the people via the intermediary structure of a political unit.1 In our case this political unit is the European Union. It is not sufficient to say that there are political publics at the level of the Member States. Of course these publics are helpful for the political discussion of European problems. But for a democratically based European policy, it is necessary to discuss European problems not only from the perspective of national points of view but also from the perspective of the EU as a community. On a more abstract level, there is the question how to gain legitimacy for EU policy.2 During the final years of negotiations for the European Constitutional Treaty, a very specialised discussion on European issues took place. But it was an elitist top-down project on how to give the people more opportunities for participation in European affairs on the basis of a European identity. The results of the 2005 referenda in the Netherlands and in France reflected not only the position of the public in these countries
on European integration; the rejection of ratification has shown that progress towards integration will not occur automatically. The crisis of integration in the EU was intensified by the political position of the heads of two new Member States which had entered the EU in 2004, the Czech Republic (President Václav Klaus)3 and the Polish Republic (President Lech Kaczyński).4 They stressed the fact that, on the basis of their historical experience with the Germans and the Soviet Russians, they could not give up more of their sovereignty to a supranational organisation. They emphasised the right to national self-determination, which their states had regained in 1989/90 after a long period of repression. These positions have been discussed in the media of the EU Member States. The result is a very differentiated picture of what Europe should be. The demand for a European identity produces answers which show the different visions of Europe found in the Member States. Weiler described the situation thus: “It is argued (correctly in my view) that integration is not about creating a European nation or people, but about the ever closer Union among the peoples of Europe.”5 The argument shows us that a European demos does not exist yet. But when they try to find out what it means to be European, the peoples (in the person of their political actors and their media) look at others and find that
F. Neidhardt, R. Koopmans & B. Pfetsch, ‘Konstitutionsbedingungen politischer Öffentlichkeit: Der Fall Europa’. In: H.-D. Klingemann & F. Neidhardt (Eds.), Zur Zukunft der Demokratie. Herausforderungen im Zeitalter der Globalisierung, WZBJahrbuch 2000, Berlin: Sigma 2000, 263–93. 2 T. Banchoff & M. P. Smith, ‘Introduction: Conceptualizing legitimacy in a contested polity’. In: T. Banchoff & M. P. Smith (Eds.), Legitimacy and the European Union: the contested polity, London and New York 1999. 3 Interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), 15 March 2005: ‘Eine Gefahr für Freiheit und Demokratie in Europa. Ein Gespräch mit dem tschechischen Präsidenten über die Verfassung der EU, die Regierungskrise in Prag und das Verhältnis zu Deutschland’. 4 Interview with the FAZ, 8 March 2006: ‘Ist das der europäische Geist? Der polnische Staatspräsident Kaczyński über Vertreibung, Rußland und die Ostsee’. 5 J. H. H. Weiler, ‘European Democracy and Its Critique’. In: West European Politics, Vol. 18, No. 3, July, p. 13. 1
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there are different ways of thinking about this subject in the societies of the Member States. If there is to be public discussion of European questions, it is very important to understand the differences between the political cultures and positions of others. If there is to be a bridging of differences, they first have to be understood and acknowledged. Are the different languages of the European peoples so great an obstacle to an effective public that includes two or more societies? The answer seems to be self-evident. There are states, however, with a strong common public on the basis of two or more languages: Canada and Switzerland,6 for example. II Despite the appearance of a fragmented multicultural Europe, it is clear that the European Union exists. It is a politically functioning body. It has its own decision-making system. The Union combines national (nation-state) policies with community-wide ones. The Union is not a federal nation state like the United States of America; rather, the Union is built on the foundation of nation states and works on the basis of a structure that combines supra-national elements with cooperative intergovernmental politics. In the view of a traditional political realist, this structure contains the explosive forces of conflicting national interests. From this perspective a structure like NATO or the EU cannot function.7 In contrast to this expectation, however, the Union does function, and the politics of deepening and enlargement show that the system has an inner dynamic. How can we understand and explain this fact? Perhaps a short history of the European integration process can help to answer this 6
The structure and tasks of the Parliamentary Assembly were formalised in the international treaty of the Council of Europe and in the many decisions of the assembly made, because of the organisational structure of the council, in cooperation with the Committee of Ministers, the group made up of the foreign ministers of the national states. III At the same time, at the end of the 1940s the members of the different political families (Liberals, Socialists and Christian Democrats) tried more informally to organise cross-border political cooperation. Normally political parties and movements are part of a national political system. Their frame of reference for political
A. Ernst, ‘Vielsprachigkeit, Öffentlichkeit und politische Integration: Schweizerische Erfahrungen und europäische Perspektiven’. In: Swiss Political Science Review, Vol. 4, 1998, 225–40. H. J. Morgenthau: Politics Among Nations, The Struggle for Power and Peace, New York 1973. J. Mearsheimer, ‘Why we will soon miss the Cold war’. In: The Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 266, 2, 1990.
question. At the end of World War II, when German aggression in Europe had been defeated, the peoples yearned for peace and prosperity. The different parts of the European movement came into being and organised inter-societal cooperation between European societies, politicians, trade-union leaders and media. They developed a new structure for the system of nation states. The congress of The Hague (1948) gave rise to very important results, not least the Council of Europe, founded in 1949, the first international organisation for building the structure of an integrated Europe. Here we find the roots of an institutionalised European public: the Parliamentary Assembly of the European Council would organise a debate among the representatives from the national parliaments of the European nation states on political, legal and economic questions. It should also be noted that the congress of The Hague sought to create an institution in which all European states would be represented. But because of the beginning of the Cold War at the end of the 1940s, the organisation included only the West European democracies.
planning and decisions is their own nation. The foreign policy of a state is in the hands of its government. In this situation, transnational party relations are of a dubious nature. Socialist politicians from different countries who had cooperated since the second part of the nineteenth century in the Socialist International were defamed by centre or rightist politicians for being unpatriotic. In 1947 a Christian Democratic international was founded, the Nouvelle Équipes Internationales (NEI).8 The name was chosen because in many countries there were at that time two or more Christian Democratic parties. French and Belgian politicians had to avoid the impression that they were founding a ‘black’ or ‘clerical’ international. When the Liberals founded the Liberal World Union in 1947, the use of the word ‘international’ in the name would have been suspect in the context of the Socialist International or the former Communist International. In the time after World War II, these new party federations were primarily euro-centric organisations, but since the 1960s they have been organised on a global level: the Liberal International (LI), the Christian Democratic International (CDI)9 and the Socialist International (SI). Two international developments have led to the foundation of West European regional party federations: first, the politics of decolonialisation, which led to the emergence of new sovereign nation states worldwide, and second, the process of political and economic integration in Western Europe.10 For the Christian Democrats, the NEI was now an ineffective instrument for transnational political cooperation. In the context of the 1960s, it seemed necessary to organise links between the parties and the Christian Democratic political
groups in the European Parliament (EP) and in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. In 1965 the European Union of Christian Democrats (EUCD) was founded. With its foundation, the principle of Équipes for membership was rejected. The EUCD was the organisation of Christian Democratic parties in Europe. In 1972 the Political Bureau of the EUCD established a Political Committee, which was founded because of pressure from the political group of the Christian Democrats in the EP as a core part of the EUCD but comprising only parties from Member States of the European Community. The Political Committee was planned as the nucleus of a political party for the European Community. In 1976 the European People’s Party was founded as the Federation of the Christian Democratic Parties of the European Community.11 In particular, the prospect of the first direct elections to the European Parliament—first planned for 1978, then held in 1979—seemed to create the conditions which would allow directly elected representatives to have more influence on the politics of European integration. It was believed that the representatives should be selected from the national political parties in cooperation with the parties of the same political leanings, because they would have to cooperate in the European Parliament. This problem put pressure on the Liberals to cooperate more within their party federation. For a long time the LI was not interested in deepening European integration because the member parties had very different positions on the question concerning the future of European integration. That is why in the LI and the Liberal political group in the EP the political positions on questions of European policies diverged widely and could not become
R. I. M. Irving: The Christian Democratic Parties of Western Europe, London 1979. D. Hanley (Ed.), Christian Democracy in Europe. A Comparative Perspective, London 1994. H.-J. Veen (Ed.), Christlich-demokratische und konservative Parteien in Westeurope, Paderborn 1983–1994. 9 The CDI, founded in 1961 under the name Union Modiale Démocrate-Chrétienne, was the umbrella organisation for cooperation between Christian Democratic parties and the regional federations NEI and the Organización Demócrata Cristiana de América, founded in 1947 in Montevideo. 10 N. Gresch, Transnationale Zusammenarbeit der Parteien in der EG, Baden-Baden 1978. 11 H. A. Lücker & K. J. Hahn, Christliche Demokraten bauen Europa, Bonn 1987. 8
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the basis for a common Liberal policy.12 In 1972 the existing Liberal Movement for a United Europe was accepted as a regional organisation within the LI. Since 1974 the Liberals have organised conferences for the chairs of the Liberal and radical parties in Europe, Liberal members of the EC Commission and the head of the Liberal Group of the EP, so that they can discuss the problems of European unification on an informal basis. In 1976 they founded the Federation of Liberal and Democratic Parties in the EC, later renamed the European Liberal, Democratic and Reform Party (ELDR). For nearly all of the members of the Socialist party family, internationalism is an important issue for the party programme. In the tradition of the labour movement, some of them have cooperated since the last decades of the nineteenth century. But in contrast to their basic common attitude, the politics of the socialist parties are strictly oriented to their national frame of reference. Up to the 1970s, the Socialist (Social Democrat, Labour) parties had tried to transform the political and economic structures of their own nations on the basis of national programmes. Although these programmes might include the goal of European unification, differences between the various states overshadowed the consensus on the value of internationalism. IV But the coming together of the first six nation states in the European Economic Community (EEC) required a new orientation; there was now a new political framework for the programmatic and practical activities of the parties. By that time some parliamentary representatives from the six national parliaments had already obtained experience in political cooperation
in the political groups of the Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), founded in 1952. After the foundation of the European Economic Community in 1958, the enlarged Assembly took the name ‘European Parliament’ (EP), although at first only in Dutch and German. In these languages, the ‘Parliament’ is the legislative body on the national level, like the Parliament of Westminster in the United Kingdom. By using the name ‘European Parliament’, they claimed the same function for their work. In France, the Assembly (Assemblée National) is the legislative body.13 The Socialist representatives in their political group of the EP and those in the Council of Europe tried to find common political positions, but this was in many cases impossible without the cooperation of the Socialist parties of their nations. In practise they did not form an independent body. To be a powerful voice in the EP, they needed a common political programme from their parties. The representatives pressed their national parties for closer communication and cooperation.14 The Socialist political grouping in the EP was successful. On the basis of cooperation between the political group and the national Socialist parties, the Liaison Office was founded in 1957—within the context of the emerging EEC. A political programme for the socialist parties of the EC was worked out and presented in 1962. This programme was elaborated mainly by representatives of the EP in cooperation with the international secretaries of the national parties. In some cases the national parties put their members of the EP in charge of negotiating the programme. The result was a strongly federal vision for a united Europe, which gave direction for a European policy to the political group in the EP. But the programme formed here was
E.-R. Karnofsky, Parteienbünde vor der Europawahl 1979. Integration durch gemeinsame Wahlaussagen? Bonn 1982. E. Kuper, ‘Transnationale Versammlung und nationales Parlament. Einige Überlegungen zu Funktion und Leistung des Parlamentarismus in den internationalen Beziehungen’. In: Zeitschrift für Parlamentsfragen 4/1991, 620–38. 14 N. Gresch, ‘Zwischen Internationalismus und nationaler Machtbehauptung – Die europäische Zusammenarbeit der sozialdemokratischen Parteien’. In: Zusammenarbeit der Parteien in Westeuropa. Auf dem Weg zu einer neuen politischen Infrastruktur? Bonn 1976, 143–249. 12 13
not the common programme for Europe of the Socialist parties.15 Every party16 followed its own national approach to programme formation and cooperated only when it seemed to be in its own interest. In the national public arena of the member parties, political problems dominated which created tensions between the parties on the European level of the EC and allowed no productive solution. In 1966, for the first time in the history of the German Federal Republic, the Social Democratic Party formed the government. The Neue Ostpolitik of the Socialist-Liberal coalition (1969) changed the position of Germany in Europe. Some partners reacted with suspicion: would the government continue to play a strong role in the West or not? In France the 1960s saw the decline of the traditional socialist party, the Section Française d’Internationale Ouvrière (SFIO). The SFIO stood for a policy of European unification. The position of the newly founded Socialist Party on this issue was, under F. Mitterrand, quite different. To gain the presidency in France, he had to enter into a coalition with the Communist Party,17 which was opposed to European integration. Such a position was unthinkable for the leaders of the German Social Democrats. In the United Kingdom, the Labour Party radically changed its position on European integration between 1964 and 1972.18 In autumn 1973 the Liaison Office decided to prepare a draft of a programme of cooperation between the Socialist parties. In April 1974 the Federation of the Socialist Parties of the EC replaced the Liaison Office. The Federation would not be the umbrella organisation of the different parties but the framework for pragmatic cooperation between the parties.
The politics of the Socialist International in this period did not strengthen European cooperation in the framework of the EC, because many influential Socialist parties would not take a position on the integration process, especially the Scandinavian parties and the British Labour Party. This situation was the basis for an interesting protocol on membership and decision-making in the Federation. Federation members from the EC had full voting rights. Parties from countries which had applied for membership in the EC had the same right. Observer status was granted to parties from states like Austria, Sweden, Norway, Malta and Israel. It is interesting that later most of the parties with observer status were brought, through dialogue, to a more open position with respect to European integration, thus freeing the way for their countries to enter the EC. This was also the case with respect to the Portuguese and Spanish Socialists. With the approach of the first direct elections to the EP in 1978/79, the Socialist parties tried to elaborate, if not a common programme, then a common political platform in the office of the federation. The members of the office accepted a draft of the platform in June 1977, but only a few member parties agreed to it. In this complicated situation, the chairs of the parties published a Political Declaration on 23 June 1978, to show that there was a minimum degree of consensus between the Socialist parties on the eve of the direct elections. The earlier declared aim of creating a federal socialist Europe was given up. Cooperation was now the central principle for the work in the Socialist Federation and for the work of the parties in the EC. This principle allowed the members of the federation to accept their programmatic heterogeneity and at
E. Kuper, Transnationale Parteienbünde zwischen Partei- und Weltpolitik, Frankfurt am Main and New York 1995, 162–67. The Dutch party was the only exception. 17 S. Baron, Das Volksfrontbündnis und die Entwicklung des Parteiensystems in Frankreich, Köln, Berlin, Bonn and München 1977. 18 M. Newman, Socialism and European Unity. The Dilemma of the Left in Britain and France, London 1983. 15 16
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the same time to discuss pragmatic solutions to the differences. In this process the meetings of the chairs of the parties and the Socialist Prime Ministers of the EC and EFTA states19 played a very important role in the development of a common programme for the Socialist parties. It was believed that cooperation between the Socialist parties should be the basis for the greater influence of the European states in the world. At a meeting of the chairs of the Socialist parties in May 1991, it was decided to found a European Socialist Party. Finally in November 1992, at a conference of the delegates of the Federation of Socialist Parties, the Socialist Party of Europe was founded. A basic principle for the work of the new party was to allow Scandinavian Social Democratic parties full membership, and to give the same status to the Partito Democratico della Sinistra (PDS), the former Communist Party of Italy. In 1993 the European Federation of Green Parties was founded.20 Before that, it had been very difficult to bring together ecologists and regionalist groups from different countries. V When we look back on the history of the events described, we see that initially there were only a few states in Europe, and their societies, that participated in the integration process. For the peoples in the constitutional democracies, it was clear that they wanted to organise a peaceful future. They believed that there should be no possibility of war between these states. For this reason, it was necessary to include Germany in the European system of states by binding Germany to its neighbours. France especially changed its security policy
towards Germany. It was influenced by the general European movement from a policy of divide and control to a policy of control by integration. This change led to the development of a transnational group of people in European states cooperating in different fields of societal, economic and political engagement. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (1949) was the first institutionalised place for a common public discussion. The representatives in the Assembly were seated in alphabetical order of their names.21 At the time, political groups were not recognised in the Assembly. This first happened many years later. The situation in the Common Assembly of the original six members of the ECSC (1952) was different. This organisation was founded in order to secure the delivery of steel for the reconstruction of the destroyed industries and energy for industry and households. The second reason for the foundation of this supranational organisation was not European idealism but the desire to have long-term influence over German industry and the opportunity to control its development by sharing decision-making and information through a joint authority (the predecessor of the European Commission). For the representatives to the Assembly, it was clear that the decisions of this joint authority would impact the politics and the social structure of their countries. If they wanted to have influence, they had to organise themselves politically, and that meant in political groups. So they organised, from the very beginning, the work of the Liberal, the Socialist and the Christian Democratic groups. These representatives had a seat in the national legislatures as well as one in the Assembly. In the Assembly they formed a special transnational group; their loyalty was oriented toward what they thought Europe (the ECSC) was and should
EFTA is the European Free Trade Association. D. H. Tsatsos & G. Deinzer (Eds.), Europ채ische politische Parteien. Dokumentation einer Hoffnung, Baden-Baden 1998. 21 The goal was to avoid national delegations sitting together in the Assembly. 19 20
be. At home, in the national parliament, the frame of reference for all decisions was the individual nation. The representatives had, like all representatives in parliamentary assemblies,22 a complex combination of loyalties: they had to combine loyalty to their own nation and their national parties, on the one hand, with loyalty to the new political entity, Europe, and to their transnational political group in the Assembly, on the other. In many cases the national loyalty of one member of the group resulted in tension with members of other national parties because they had—despite being members of the same political family— quite different political programmes. For this reason, it was very important for the members of the political groups to get the national parties to cooperate by working out common programmes. In all the political groups, pressure on the national parties grew to organise this cooperation quickly. As we have seen, however, it could break down, if the political group in the Assembly or Parliament reached a consensus on their own and the national parties had not accepted the programme of the group as part of their national programme. In this process national parties learned to avoid conflicts with their transnational partners. They learned that they could have different points of view on many questions but still work together pragmatically on many other questions. During this process, especially in times of serious conflict, the chairs of the member parties played a very important role. The meetings of the chairs led to progress in the discussion of programmatic and pragmatic differences. In the discussions concerning points of controversy, meetings of the party secretaries were replaced more and more by meetings of high-ranking party leaders. In many cases they tried to bring the different positions closer together.23 In some cases it
proved better to exclude the controversial point in the interest of making progress on a broader level. The political groups of the EP have been able, in cooperation with important party leaders, to influence the agenda of the European Council. Through consensus they have successfully built a strong foundation for European Parties within the framework of the basic treaties of the EU. Article 19124 of the EU Treaty of Amsterdam gave the European parties an important role in forming a European public. At this time, a European party cannot be a party comparable to the national parties in the Member States; rather, it is a federation of cooperating parties with the goal of transforming Europe politically into the EU. The most important result of this cooperation is the building of a trans-European network to carry out the common political will. For a long time the European party federations (and thereafter the European parties) have been dominated by their political group in the EP, because it was the group that mostly financed their political work. The position of the group became stronger with the incorporation of the European political parties into the basic treaties. Now the European parties have financial support from the budget of the EU. They can use it to organise support for their positions in the European political public. In the long run it might be the basis for a growing European party system. The development of such a system is important because an effectively organised and institutionalised system for the representation of specific interests is currently dominant in the EU. One could legitimise this structure on the basis of a theory of democracy founded on the participation of group representatives in the decision-making process of the EU. But a central
E. Kuper & U. Jun (Eds.), Nationales Interesse und integrative Politik in transnationalen parlamentarischen Versammlungen, Opladen 1997. S. Marschall, Transnationale Repräsentation in Parlamentarischen Versammlungen. Demokratie und Parlamentarismus jenseits des Nationalstaates, Baden-Baden 2005. 23 S. Hix, ‘The Emerging EC Party System? The European Party Federations in the Intergovernmental Conferences’. In: Politics, London, Vol. 13, No. 2, 1993. 24 Art. 191 Treaty of Amsterdam. 22
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problem of the EU is the lack of organised groups for bringing these specific interests together in a comprehensive vision for European integration. The growth of the European party federations and now the European Parties shows that there are now political forces which combine political interests within complex structures to form the future of transnational societies in Europe. The political groups of the EP have shown enormous flexibility in reducing the diversity of the positions of the national party representatives coming into the EP. The party delegations are integrated into the structures of the political groups. At this point the divergent positions must be integrated into the daily work of the political group in such a way that the group can maintain a distinct profile. The political group in the EP has to represent the political family to which it belongs in the European arena; its policies must be compatible with the positions of most of the national member parties, especially with the positions of the most important member parties. Each enlargement of the EC/EU made it necessary to integrate more parties into the political groups. For the Socialists, the membership of the Labour representatives from the United Kingdom (UK) was difficult because at first they did not want to cooperate with the group. But then the position of the Labour Party towards an integrated Europe changed and membership in the group became possible. For the Christian Democrats (Group of the European Peopleâ€™s Party) the question was how to integrate the Conservatives from the UK so as to have, with the additional members, a stronger position in the EP. The Conservatives do not support European unification whereas the EPP group does. Other problems arose for the political groups because of changes in the party systems of Member States; for example, the Italian Partito Democratico della Sinistra (PDS) entered the Socialist group. In the last years before that decision, the representative of the former Partito Communista Italiano (PCI)
and then the PDS had usually voted together with the Socialist group. A traditionally very important part of the EPP group, the Democrazia Cristiana, split into new parties. The Forza Italia wanted to join the EPP group. All of these changes created problems for the groups. One of the biggest challenges to the integration of national parties came during the preparations, on the level of transnational party cooperation, for Eastern enlargement. The political transformation in the formerly communist states had not led to stable party systems which were well integrated into a national public and which could be good vehicles for the dissemination of European issues. Even at the national level, most of these parties find it enormously difficult to integrate divergent positions. But there is no alternative to the cooperation of the parties. No other social power can replace functioning transnational cooperation within the systems of party federations. VI In the beginning, the political groups of the transnational assemblies tried to find common positions in order to realise their own agenda. It was thought that broad consensus would strengthen the authority of the new institution. But for the political public in Europe, consensus positions are not interesting. Conflicting positions between the large groups attract much more interest. When the goal was to have more influence, the question was whether it was helpful to have differences between the political groups in order to establish a distinct political profile in the eyes of the European public; or was it better, if the goal was to achieve the political will of the largest number of the members of the EP, for there to be conflict with another central institution of the EU, the EU Commission or the Council, for example? The near failure of the EU to vote in favour of the Santer Commission shows how contentious these questions remain within the European public.
The transnational political parties made it possible to organise networks of cooperation between the national parties belonging to the various party families in Europe and to build the structure of a party organisation at the EU level. These networks enabled political and cultural discussions on the current situation and the future of the EU and its nation states by political actors from the different levels and the intervening organs of political communication. At the same time, it must be acknowledged that these networks and formalised links are very weak. There are several reasons for this: 1. There is the structural problem of the EU: Specific interests are very well organised and represented in the institutions of the EU. They dominate European policy in the so-called government by committees.25 The presentation of a comprehensive political vision with the same degree of influence is not possible. 2. The conditions for transnational cooperation in the EC/EU have changed permanently. Every enlargement of the EU changed the structure of communication between the old and the new partners. The basic treaties of the EC/EU were drafted by the national governments and changed the framework in which the party federations function. But the party federations had virtually no influence on the changes. 3. Following the 2004 enlargement, the new members, the former communist countries, have found it very difficult to build stable party systems. This means that the federations lack strong partners from these states. 4. The European Parliament has failed to have a debate about its own role in the context of a European public. Should it be the institution in which the different peoples of the EU are represented, or should it be
the body in which the citizens of the EU are equally represented? However, the European parties have made progress in the field of European integration. They have over time established democratic control over the EU Commission by the EP. Although the direct elections to the EP seem to be national events, organised by the national parties, the elections themselves are occasions when the media draws attention to the EU itself. Certainly, the situation remains ambiguous for the voters. As we suggested at the beginning of this article, re-nationalisation of the public is a danger for the European integration process. The European parties have been successful in fostering political loyalty to the EU. But this loyalty is secondary. It has not replaced the existing national loyalty.26 Politicians from the European parties and the national parties can try to combine both. In dramatic situations, for example during the outbreak of a war, people ask who can safeguard their security. Then people’s loyalties can become divided. If the EU is perceived in a country only as an economic institution which is not related to security or which is perceived to have no relevance in this matter, then the people look elsewhere for an institution which can ensure their security. This was the case during the break-up of Yugoslavia and the wars in south-east Europe and again at the beginning of the war against Iraq. In the first case the EU failed and support from outside was needed: The USA intervened in Bosnia. In the second case there was a split between the Member States of the EU: Some supported the USA; others were against intervention in Iraq. The consequence of this very difficult situation was that the EU
A. E. Töller, Komitologie. Theoretische Bedeutung und praktische Funktionsweise von Durchführungsausschüssen der Europäischen Union am Beispiel der Umweltpolitik, Opladen 2002. 26 This position stands in contrast to the integration theory of E. B. Haas (The Uniting of Europe. Political, Social and Economic Forces. 1950-1957. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1958). 25
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strengthened its structures and competences in the field of military security. This was done at the intergovernmental level; the EP was not directly involved. Is this the reason there is no public debate in the EU on this subject? This question leads to a central point: the national publics are dominated by questions of vital interest to the people—security matters, for example. Can we say that there is public debate at the European level about questions of vital interest? The vital interests of Europe can only be discussed by a European public if there is a common identity, the feeling that a common interest is at stake if Europe does not act or react. Both transnational party cooperation and party politics are needed to work on these issues—to generate answers from the public for the public.
Ernst Kuper is former Director of the Center for European and North American Studies at the Georg-August University of Göttingen and former Director of Studies in the international and interdisciplinary MA Study Programme, Euroculture, in Göttingen.
The Promise and Reality of Euro-parties By Robert Ladrech
The main European transnational party federations (hereafter referred to as Europarties) established in the mid-1970s are now approaching the end of their third decade in existence. Enough time has elapsed for a consideration not only of their performance, but more precisely of their purpose. In this essay I shall briefly consider the role that Euro-parties have played in European politics over the past three decades, and then turn attention to what I see as the major constraints on the future development and, consequently, the relevance of Euro-parties. The early promise It is not surprising that Euro-parties—the Liberal, Socialist, and Christian Democrat parties—were established when they were, in anticipation of the first direct elections to the European Parliament (EP) in 1979. As has been argued elsewhere (Pridham & Pridham, 1981), the direct election of the EP was an opportunity to mobilise and coordinate national parties for European election campaigns. It became clear by the time of the third set of elections in 1989 that diversity among national parties on the issue of the direction of European integration prevented the type of organisational coordination that would have given the Euro-parties a greater role in the campaigns (an acute problem at this time for the Socialist party family). Moreover, elections to the EP had not generated the interest or depth of mobilisation that had been hoped for in the 1970s. Indeed, Reif and Schmitt (1980) argued as far back as 1980 that these elections were second order in nature—and impact. Subsequent academic
analyses of EP elections have not fundamentally changed this characterisation. Analyses of Europarty election manifestos have also pointed out the broad nature of the documents; in other words, they contain nothing too specific that might antagonise a member party. By the 1990s, then, the promise of Euro-parties as key actors in mobilizing national electorates and coordinating with member national parties a transnational manifesto providing real choices for Europe’s citizens seemed to have faded. The reasons for this are not difficult to understand. Varying degrees of attention to European matters by member parties did not help in forging common positions. Despite some modest institutional enhancement in the 1980s, the EP did not play a crucial role in the policymaking process in Brussels, and in fact its image in some Member States was one of irrelevance: it was merely a talking shop. Organisationally, Euro-parties remained very dependent on their respective EP groups; their decision-making statutes emphasised the clear supremacy of the national parties. That this state of affairs began to change in the early 1990s can be explained by the general resurgence of belief in the promise of European integration. From the late 1980s, Euro-parties began to serve a new purpose; they shifted from their early focus on electioneering to policy development on the European level. Euro-parties also began to be perceived by some national parties as important to their own fortunes. Developments in the 1990s The Single European Act (SEA) was a watershed event in the history of the European integration project. Not only was the Single Market programme launched, but institutional changes,
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such as the introduction of qualified majority voting (QMV) in the Council of Ministers and an enhanced role for the EP (fully leading to codecision in the 1990s) signalled wider changes in the way Europe began to be perceived both by political elites and by ordinary citizens. By the time of the ratification of the Maastricht Treaties in 1992, party politics had evolved. The Confederation of Socialist Parties of the EC (CSPEC) became the Party of European Socialists (PES), with new statutes suggesting an element of majority voting (the EPP also strengthened its internal decision-making rules at this time), and in 1993 the Green parties established the European Federation of Green Parties. The Maastricht Treaty was the first to include a ‘party article’, Article 138A, recognizing the potential of European Parties to link the public with European level decision-making. But more important than these technical changes, I argue, was the development of a new role for Europarties and the perceptions national party leaders came to have of the Euro-parties. Hooghe and Marks (1999) have argued that the SEA, in terms of both policy and institutional changes, has led to the evolution of two opposing political projects; European integration is the means to their respective ends. A ‘neo-liberal project’ is opposed by a ‘regulated capitalism’ alternative. The two camps, they argue, are composed of a variety of national and European actors: certain national parties (e.g. the British Conservative Party), a variety of business associations, trade unions (some national as well as the ETUC), particular members of the European Commission, etc. Thus the struggle of a centreleft (regulated capitalism) versus a centre-right (neo-liberal project) has come to structure the European political space. Although Hooghe and Marks did not dwell specifically on the role of Euro-parties in this “contested polity” (Banchoff & Smith, 1999), we can nonetheless see how Euro-parties have managed to adapt to (or have been employed in) this political contest. If Euro-parties have not managed to be a critical element in EP elections, they have come to be viewed as a useful tool 74
for national party actors. In other words, they can serve to lower transaction costs for national politicians wishing to build alliances or coalitions with similar parties in other countries belonging to the same party family. Euro-parties are understood therefore as network facilitators, and their organisational capacity can serve as a means by which to develop, disseminate and possibly mobilise—from the top down—national party leaderships. Johansson (1999, 2002; see also Ladrech, 2000) has documented this type of activity for both the PES and EPP. In both of the cases analysed, the activities and the outcome find their place within the framework of competition between the two opposing camps described by Hooghe and Marks. Both cases demonstrate the capacity Euro-parties have to organise intra-party family relations. In the first case, Johansson (2002) describes how EPP party leaders were able to employ EPP summits and other internal discussions to establish and coordinate national government positions on monetary union, leading to the Maastricht Treaty. In the second case, Johansson (1997) and Ladrech (2000) demonstrate how the PES was utilised as a network facilitator leading to the development and adoption of the European Employment chapter in the Amsterdam Treaty. In both cases, Euro-parties must be considered part of the panoply of actors—national and European—who have mobilised to promulgate the various projects that make up the ideological competition in European-level politics. Euro-parties have also served as a means for certain national parties to acquire externally generated legitimacy, in other words, ‘legitimacy by association’. In each of the following three examples, the national party in question was either in its early developmental stage, or else engaged in a fundamental transition. In the first two examples, Forza Italia in Italy and the Partido Popular in Spain (Van Hecke & Matuschek, 2003), membership in the EPP was part of a conscious attempt to demonstrate to its own national public the wider acceptance of each party. Membership demonstrated that older and certainly democratic organisations such as
the EPP, made up of prominent parties such as the German CDU, were willing to acknowledge the democratic credentials of the two parties in question (this of course occurred at different periods of time). The third example is the transformation of the Italian Communist Party (PCI) into a social democratic party and its intent to demonstrate its new ideological commitment to parliamentary democracy by its acceptance in the PES. In all of these cases, the European level of activity was seen as a means to legitimacy. Each party sought to link itself with a Euro-party in order to strengthen its national position vis-à-vis potential critics. This particular role for Europarties has been seized on, for different and understandable reasons, by parties in the postcommunist Eastern European states. To end this section on the role and relevance of Euro-parties to date, it is worthwhile to consider briefly some proposals as to their future contribution. Simon Hix has proposed over the past few years a possible solution to the democratic deficit and legitimacy problem of the EU. For him and others, providing a focus for EP elections, that is, making them relevant for European publics, could be accomplished if there were a direct link to the choice of Commission president. In other words, the Euro-parties would decide on a candidate for the Commission presidency, and this emphasis on personality plus policy orientation would go a long way to engage Europe’s citizens because they could much more easily see the choice presented to them. Indeed, Hix argues that the “candidate-centred as opposed to party-centred nature of European elections [can] strengthen party competition” (2004: 7). Thus the role of Euro-parties would be to present rival candidates for the Commission president, and in so doing they would fulfil the Treaty’s party article concerning the role of Europarties as “forming a European awareness and to expressing the political will of the citizens of the Union” (TEU, Art. 138A).
Some movement towards putting this role into practice is found in the drafting and adoption of the Party Statute of the Nice Treaty, which calls for more transparent financing and relations between Euro-parties and their respective EP party groups. Furthermore, Jo Leinen, a Member of the European Parliament (MEP), has called for a party statute that would enable Euro-parties to have a European, rather than a national legal basis. These technical steps towards normalising the Euro-parties’ very existence and ability to operate at the European and national levels reflect the intention of those party leaders supportive of these modest advances to provide a platform for expressing partisan views on important European issues. However, as we shall see in the next part of this essay, creating a more assertive or significant role for Europarties is more easily said than done. Constraints on the development of Europarties Hix and Lord wrote in 1997 that “even the intensification of transnational party activity in the EU in the 1980s and 1990s did little to remove the national foundations of party politics. In many ways, it is national, rather than transnational, parties that function as the ‘carriers of European integration’” (15). Nearly ten years later, this picture of the relationship between national party control and transnational party marginality in the articulation of EU issues has arguably not changed much. Some insightful research on the development of transnational parties has employed Niedermeyer’s framework. He posits a three-stage developmental trajectory, beginning with a loose form of cooperation, then advancing to coordination, and finally reaching a level of autonomy from member national parties. Recent work in this area (see, for example, Johansson & Zervakis, 2002) finds that, allowing for degrees of change within each stage, the PES and EPP are the most advanced, but still within the coordination stage. In the rest of this article, I wish to explore one dimension of the constraint on Euro-party development, namely the relation of Euro-parties to member national parties. Volume 3 - Spring 2006
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One can imagine a number of barriers to Europarty development from the level reached by the late 1990s. On a very basic level, there is the question of their own organisational capacity. The rules governing this have been changed by the Party Statute; less dependence on EP groups means that Euro-parties have to find their own resources, for example contributions from member national parties, plus EU money based upon EP election performance. Second, if we consider transnational parties as the extra-parliamentary wing of Euro-parties, then greater definition and organisational capacity may result in changed relations within their respective EP groups. Third, some proposals, such as Hixâ€™s that the Euro-parties put forward candidates for Commission president, may require either institutional change or else new inter-governmental agreements at the European level; once again Euro-parties would not be setting the agenda. Finally, there is the relationship between Europarties and their respective member parties, the topic I wish to focus on. To a certain extent, as most commentators have pointed out, Europarties are virtually unknown to the national electorates. But more crucially, they are also far from the minds of most national party actors. Given the presence of avowedly euro-sceptic parties in several EU Member States, the recent referenda on the EU Constitutional Treaty and the divisions within some major parties on the future of the European integration process, it may seem surprising that some space has not opened up for Euro-parties, for instance in organising transnational debates among national party activists. In the end, however, it is national parties, and more specifically national party leaders, who hold the keys to Euro-party development. There are two items to consider: (1) incentives for national parties to allow Europarties greater visibility and organisational capacity, and (2) national party engagement with the European level in general. What incentives are there for national party
leaders to promote more-vigorous and higher profile Euro-parties? Apart from the fact that national party leaders differ on the supranational/inter-governmental divide over EU development, and this is manifest within all the major party families/Euro-parties, the issue at hand is more the potential effect stronger Euro-parties would have inside their respective national member parties. In other words, some party leaders could view stronger Euro-parties in a zero-sum perspective, i.e. more influence for Euro-parties means less for national parties. Party leaders would be disinclined to open their parties to outside actors in the first place because of the potentially disruptive dynamics that could ensue, e.g. regarding the re-alignment of internal balances of power. Ultimately, however, when it comes to the strengthening of European actors, party leaders follow the same logic as the most inter-governmentally oriented national government: support for strengthened institutions if it enhances the national interest. Consequently, we have to consider in what ways stronger and more highly visible Europarties would benefit their respective national party leaderships to the extent that they would share a bit of their â€˜sovereigntyâ€™. Considering that the main focus of national parties is to control or influence national governments, and that it is through national government action in the European Council and Council of Ministers that initiatives are launched or blocked at the European level, the price of supporting stronger Euro-parties does not seem justified by the benefit (itself intangible). The reticence, then, of national party leaders to grant more power to Euro-parties is tied to their estimation of the costs and benefits, and the costs are easier to imagine than the benefits. This brings me to the second point, the question of to what extent national parties are actually engaged on the European level of policy and decision-making. On the one hand, the easy answer to this is to look at the European level of activity of national party actors, that is, government ministers and MEPs. However, if
we were to ask how integrated the decisions of government ministers in Brussels and the general activities of MEPs are into internal party mechanisms of accountability, then we would see a different picture emerging. First of all, not all government ministers are party politicians (there is widespread use of experts or technocrats). Second, not all government ministers are accountable to a national parliamentary party, i.e. they do not sit in the parliament and in cabinet government, as in the UK. Third, and significant for my argument, national executives in general are autonomous from their parliaments—and by extension, from their national parliamentary parties (here the literature on the so-called democratic deficit points to national parliaments as ‘losers’ in European integration; see inter alia Maurer and Wessels, 2000). Finally, national parties—the extra-parliamentary wing—do not have the mechanisms to hold their members in government accountable in any meaningful way, as this would require vast organisational resources and expertise. Thus, parties in government delegate to their members in executive government positions the freedom to act on EU matters (the exception being issues of a more historic nature or ones that achieve a high political profile and come into conflict with core ideological positions). As for MEPs, their integration into their national parties varies considerably, from the link-MEP system of the British Labour Party to what is more the norm, the situation where the delegation leader has ex officio membership on a mid-level leadership committee. Voting rights for MEPs at party congresses are normally those of a party’s elected officials; again this varies from party to party. However, the distance of MEPs collectively from their national parties’ consciousness in terms of knowledge of activities and appreciation for those matters where MEPs may make a difference in EP decision-making has narrowed only marginally over the past decade or so.
Finally, how do national parties organise themselves such that they become aware of and can take positions on EU policy? If the EU now looms so large in domestic policy-making, and if indeed there has been institutional and policy adaptation due to the influence of the EU (i.e. Europeanization), then might we not expect to see some organisational adaptation on the part of national parties? In fact, a recent research project (The Europeanization of National Political Parties) has shown that the actual organisational changes in major centre-left and centre-right parties in the 15 Member States before the 2004 enlargement were extremely modest. Put differently, there has not been much in the way of new positions or changes in decision-making rules to suggest that EU matters are now processed more systematically or in a more visible manner than before the late 1980s. For example, in terms of the party central office (the extra-parliamentary party organisation), it remains the International Secretariat that maintains relations both with foreign parties internationally as well as strictly within Europe and with the party delegation in the EP. In some parties, a distinct European Secretary position has been created, but this is more the exception than the rule. Resources to monitor EU issues and to liaise with EU party actors such as MEPs have not grown substantially. In other words, in an environment of limited resources, national parties choose to continue to devote the vast bulk of their resources and capability to the domestic scene, even though intellectually many party actors will acknowledge the greater influence of EU issues on domestic policy development. As for the relationship between national parties and their respective Euro-party, the overwhelming number of national representatives to a Euro-party bureau or executive committee are International secretaries; the responsibility is one added to others in their portfolio. The election of delegates to Euro-party congresses is extremely limited, with the vast bulk of delegates either ex officio, such as MEPs, or else appointed. In most cases, Euro-party working groups are
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composed of individuals appointed by the party leader. Thus the picture that emerges is not that Euro-parties have no relationship with national parties; they do, but at the level of the leadership. What is interesting is what is missing, that is, a deeper interest in EU matters and a consequent organisational adaptation to allow more input by ordinary party members. Conclusion What I have tried to do in this brief article is to point to the complexity of the situation in which Euro-parties find themselves, which inhibits further progress in making them more relevant to European citizens. If their own national member parties are themselves detached from European decision and policy making, what incentives are there for national party leaders to alter the situation and thereby open a Pandora’s Box of potentially divisive dynamics over Europe? It follows that allowing Euro-parties to gain greater stature, and thus more input into the policies of a national member party, can be viewed by some party leaders as a challenge to party stability. As one can imagine, the more the EU is itself a politicised issue in a nation’s politics, the more potentially disruptive might opening the party to wider debate on EU issues be. In some cases— for example, the debate within the Swedish Social Democratic Party over the referendum to join the EU—the leadership felt it had no choice other than to allow opposing factions within the party to organise for the referendum campaign (Aylott, 2002). More recently, the French Socialist Party conducted an internal referendum to determine the official party line on the 2005 EU Constitutional Treaty, but despite the 60% vote in favour of the Treaty, party discipline declined during the national referendum campaign. It is not enough, therefore, to imagine greater development in Euro-party organisation and/or public visibility if we do not understand what a profound challenge this prospect can be for national party politicians. Intellectual arguments
for the greater profile of Euro-parties in national party politics are counterbalanced by practical issues of party management and, yes, power. As long as Euro-parties serve as networks for interaction between national party elites, they do not challenge anyone’s prerogatives, and the status quo continues. All of this is not to suggest it is impossible for Euro-parties to eventually play a greater role in linking citizens to the EU; it is simply to point out that national parties themselves may also have to change in some ways for this to occur.
Robert Ladrech is Senior Lecturer in Politics in the School of Politics, International Relations and Philosophy in Keele University, UK.
References Aylott, Nicholas (2002). Let’s discuss this later: Party responses to Euro-division in Scandinavia. Party Politics 8 (4): 441–61. Banchoff, Thomas & Smith, Mitchell (Eds.) (1999). Legitimacy and the European Union: The Contested Polity. London & New York: Routledge. Hix, Simon (2004). Possibilities for European parties: 2004 and beyond. Working Paper, London School of Economics. Hix, Simon & Lord, Christopher (1997). Political Parties in the European Union. Basingstoke: Macmillan. Hooghe, Liesbet & Marks, Gary (1999). The making of a polity: The struggle over European integration. In Kitschelt et al (Eds.), Continuity and Change in Contemporary Capitalism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Johansson, Karl Magnus (1999). Tracing the
employment title in the Amsterdam treaty: Uncovering transnational coalitions. Journal of European Public Policy 6 (1): 85–101. Johansson, Karl Magnus (2002). Another road to Maastricht: The Christian Democrat Coalition and the quest for European Union. Journal of Common Market Studies 40 (5): 871–91. Johansson, Karl Magnus & Zervakis, Peter (2002). European Political Parties between Cooperation and Integration. Baden-Baden: Nomos. Ladrech, Robert (2000). Social Democracy and the Challenge of European Union. Boulder and London: Lynne Rienner Publishers. Maurer, Andreas & Wessels, Wolfgang (Eds.) (2001). National Parliaments on their Ways to Europe: Losers or Latecomers? BadenBaden: Nomos. Pridham, Geoffrey & Pridham, Pippa (1981). Transnational Party Co-operation and European Integration. London: George Allen and Unwin. Reif, Karlheinz & Hermann Schmitt (1980). Nine second-order national elections: A conceptual framework for the analysis of European election results. European Journal of Political Research 8: 3–44. Van Hecke, Steven & Matuschek, Peter (2003). Europeanization and political parties: The case of the Spanish People’s Party and the European People’s Party. Paper presented at the meeting of the European Consortium for Political Research.
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The Swiss Referendum: A Political Model for the European Union? By Doris Leuthard In Switzerland, citizens’ rights have been evolving since the foundation of the Swiss Confederation and are based on a longstanding tradition. The referendum and initiative rights influence the direct democratic decision-making process and allow the people to play a determining role in the formation of parliamentary and government policy. Transferring these rights to the European Union would bring benefits; however, this would require internal discussion within each individual member state. Citizens’ rights in Switzerland The Swiss state is characterised by the basic values of constitutional legality, federalism and democracy. Of these three, democracy takes precedence and ensures that all state power is based on the will of the people. In Switzerland, democratic rights have given rise to a culture of power-sharing between institutions and citizens. The country’s participation rights, referred to as citizens’ rights, reflect this principle of powersharing. Since 1848, Switzerland has continuously expanded and refined these rights, based on concepts arising from the Enlightenment and corresponding movements in France and the United States. In addition to universal suffrage and voting rights, citizens’ rights also include the right to hold referenda and initiatives. The Referendum In Switzerland, the referendum represents a core political right for citizens. It entitles them to vote retrospectively to approve or reject parliamentary acts, or to reverse a
decision. A successful referendum therefore has far-reaching consequences. A referendum triggers national discussion of a bill, whereby supporters and opponents must attempt to convince the electorate of their arguments. Thus the referendum is also a right to demand explanations and discursive justifications from the parliamentary majority.1 The majority does not always manage to convince the people, and the people do not always support the path chosen by Parliament. The people have the final word and therefore exert a corrective influence. For some parliamentary acts, a referendum is mandatory according to the Federal Constitution (compulsory referendum); other acts are only submitted to the people if requested by 50,000 voters or eight cantons within 100 days of their official publication (optional referendum). An optional referendum was held in June 2005 to oppose Switzerland’s signing of the Schengen Agreement—it was not, however, successful.2 The initiative right The initiative right entitles voters to present the Swiss Federal Council and Parliament with a request to change the Federal Constitution and to hold a referendum after their responses and debates. The initiative can take the form of a general suggestion or a completed text, the wording of which cannot then be changed by Parliament or the Swiss Federal Council. It is generally instigated by an initiative committee. In contrast to the 50,000 voters or eight cantons needed to generate a referendum, an initiative requires the signatures of 100,000 voters, which have to be gathered within 18 months. This is no easy task, since the signatures must be collected and authenticated by local authorities.
1 Andreas Gross, NR (ZH), Colloquium in honour of Werner Hauck, University of Bern, 3 March 2006: http://www.andigross.ch/. 2 Federal decision of 17.12.2004 approving and implementing bilateral Association Agreements between Switzerland and the EU about the Schengen and Dublin areas: http://www.admin.ch/ch/d/pore/va/20050605/det517.html.
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Recently introduced citizens’ rights in Switzerland
initiative was withdrawn on 10 January 2006 as the result of an indirect counter-draft.4
In the past, the absence of any legislative initiative at the federal level resulted in the frequent use of constitutional initiatives for issues that actually belonged to the legislative level. One classic example is the so-called absinth ban, which found its way into the Swiss constitution in this manner. The ‘general popular initiative’ was therefore introduced in 2003. This new citizens’ right entitles 100,000 voters to propose changes to, or even the repeal of, legislative or constitutional provisions.3 The creation of such an initiative allows citizens to instigate a discussion at both political and social levels. For example, Switzerland joined the UN as the result of a citizens’ initiative that won a majority vote in the Swiss Federal Council, the Parliament and in the subsequent referendum. The Swiss people were therefore the driving force behind Switzerland’s entry to the UN.
Types of referenda and their effects An obligatory referendum must be held for all changes to the constitution, for joining collective security organisations and supranational organisations, and for urgently declared federal laws that do not have any constitutional basis and apply for more than one year. For an obligatory referendum to be successful, the Ständemehr, i.e. the approval of a majority of cantons, is required in addition to the approval of a majority of the voters. Optional referenda are held for federal laws and acts. They are also used for international law contracts that are non-terminable and unlimited in duration which provide for joining international organisations, contain important legal provisions or require the enactment of federal laws in order to be implemented. In this case a majority of votes is sufficient.
National debates for referenda Like a referendum, an initiative triggers national discussion after a parliamentary debate. However, the full range of discussion only takes place in the event of a referendum. In this case, political parties, business associations and trade unions conduct campaigns, the scale of which depends on the significance of the bill. In referendum campaigns, political players who support the same line generally join forces across party boundaries. The tradition of concordance, a distinctive feature of the Swiss political system, also plays a part here. Not all initiatives are submitted to a public referendum. Sometimes Parliament finds a solution that resolves the key concern and convinces the instigators to withdraw their initiative. One specific example of this is the Swiss citizens’ initiative ‘Promoting contemporary animal protection: Animal protection—Yes!’ This
In addition to their effect on the decisionmaking process, referendum rights mean that policy-makers must consider a possible public rejection of their laws at any time. As a result, great care is taken from the very start of the legislative process to ensure that those political forces in a position to win a referendum are involved in preparing the contents. Business associations such as trade unions and other influential organisations therefore play a key role in the political decision-making process. Their opinions are heard at an early stage, and the concerns of various interest groups are taken seriously. This process also crystallises the contentious issues and objectives of a bill. A referendum can often be avoided if the issues can be successfully resolved or concerns addressed during the parliamentary debate. If the bill turns out to be one-sided, Parliament risks defeat in a referendum.
Sonderegger & Stampfli, 2004 (see below under ‘Sources’). http://www.admin.ch/ch/d/pore/vi/vi306.html and http://www.admin.ch/ch/d/ff/2006/355.pdf.
This opinion-forming process promotes democratic awareness, sensitivity to minorities and the involvement of a wide range of interested parties in the discussion. It also increases cohesion within a country with different cultures, languages and opinions. Finally, involving the main interested parties also helps to increase the stability of the government, which in turn increases the attractiveness of Switzerland as a business location. Occasionally organisations or parties use a referendum to raise their profile and to block government policies. The referendum is therefore generally a restraining and restricting political instrument, as it can defer the adoption of new laws or amendments. Switzerland’s long experience with referenda and initiatives has allowed for their ongoing refinement.
Comparison with Europe In most European Member States (for instance, France), a referendum takes the form of a plebiscite. In other words, the head of state or parliament is the key focus of a referendum, rather than the contents of a bill as it is in Switzerland. The defeat of such referenda (for example, the rejection of the European constitution in France) suggests a protest by the people against the government or parliament, and therefore becomes a question of confidence. The democratic value of such referenda is debatable, since plebiscites are usually carried out without having originated as a citizens’ initiative. Referenda at the EU level?
Referenda help ensure stability Direct democracy is firmly established in the mindset of the Swiss population and is an integral part of the political culture, an embodiment of the saying, “The soul of direct democracy is discussion.” Citizens’ rights generate social discussion and debate every day, either supporting or reversing political actions. Decisions approved by the people clearly have greater legitimacy. Intensive discussion of political projects reduces the likelihood of political error. However, discussions can also take the people down the route to reform, often involving them in painful change processes. An example is the current review of the social security system. Swiss pension schemes must be amended to take account of demographic changes and to ensure the continued financial stability of the social system. This reform will bring both consolidation and the partial dismantling of existing services. Implementing this reform successfully is one of the greatest challenges facing the Swiss welfare state over the next few years. Finally, involving the population in the reform process can help to reduce the potential for conflict within a society. Switzerland’s good labour relations and social harmony can also be regarded as a product of concordance and the political culture.
Since the discussion of the EU constitution, if not earlier, there has been growing interest throughout Europe in a Swiss-style direct democracy. There is now a rather rudimentary transnational European public. However, there remains a great distance between Europe’s politicians on the one hand and its citizens on the other. It is therefore hardly surprising that turnout for European elections is often very low. This in turn gives a comparatively low legitimacy to European legislation. The European Parliament and the Council of Ministers can work out and implement reform projects relatively quickly; however, in the absence of a referendum process there is no way to determine the level of public support for such projects. While they regard themselves as Europeans, many people in Europe feel little connection with the European Union and its institutions. This suggests that citizens’ rights should be introduced at a European and transnational level. In my opinion, it is not a question of whether one can do this but of whether one wants to! In view of the geographic scale of the European Union, I believe that introducing direct democratic rights would be a mere formality. In particular, Article I-46 of the European Constitutional Treaty already contains
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The Swiss Referendum: A Political Model for the European Union?
a kind of transnational participative civil right. For the first time in the history of democracy, this would give one million citizens from at least eight countries the right to present a legislation request to the EU commission. There has been little opposition to this positive and far-reaching concept. Effects on European identity Transnational rights must not be restricted to parliamentary elections. Direct democracy requires ongoing social communication under the framework of a constitution, and therefore minimum participation rights for citizens. As has been the case in Switzerland, this should increase cultural and regional integration, and provide greater legitimacy for European legislation. In my opinion, an obligatory constitutional referendum must be a priority. As well as increasing the legitimacy of both the constitutional Treaty as a whole and individual changes to it, this should also promote integration. Moreover, extensive discussion of the EU constitution throughout Europe would increase understanding between the different cultures of Member States. This is the only way to create a true European identity. Political discussion at a national level Before we can consider the concept of a European referendum, this idea must be discussed within each individual member state. The debate on transnational implementation cannot succeed until the conclusion of national debates, where the effects of democratic participation can be discussed in relation to each individual country. Media coverage and information would also be required. At the moment, there is little coverage in European newspapers of the debates held in Brussels. National issues take precedence or generate more interest. Citizens therefore lack information and play little part in these matters. As a result, social development does not take place as part of a concerted process or in parallel discussions, but is generally the preserve of the interested intellectual and political parties. This promotes feelings of distrust, powerlessness
and alienation. To increase direct democracy, we need objective sources of information that can be accessed by all. This should be taken into account when civil rights are introduced at a European level. We need to be aware of the effects of civil rights as described above and start by gathering the experiences within each member state. To implement public co-determination rights, Parliament must be prepared to give up some of its political power and control to the people and to unconditionally accept the result of a referendum. This calls for a different way of dealing with minorities and would extend the period of time required to implement a decision. A force for centralisation In Switzerland the introduction of the referendum process has increased centralisation. Giving citizens a greater say also increases federal jurisdiction. Transferring this process to the European Union would promote centralisation and increase the power of EU institutions. We must assess this potential effect in detail and discuss whether or not it is desirable. We must also assess whether we can find a simple method to introduce a referendum right or initiative right for all EU citizens, or whether these rights should be limited to strictly organised associations or major bodies. This would not be desirable from a democratic perspective, since making these rights too selective would result in opposition. Conclusion We must strive to increase the involvement of citizens in decision-making processes. To achieve this, we need a political commitment to increase and extend the legitimacy of the decisions made in Brussels. This means sharing political power and including citizens in the decision-making process. Discussions must be held on the constitution, its core values and their developmentâ€”the foundations of the European Union. Citizens must become a political force in deciding and carrying out EU reforms. This is the key to success for the transnational-level
processes of change to be implemented by the European Union.
Doris Leuthard is National Councillor and the President of the Christlichdemokratische Volkspartei (CVP) of Switzerland.
Statistics for federal referenda in Switzerland since 1848: Accepted and rejected referenda5 1848-1950
Sources Bundesamt für Statistik, Abstimmungen und Kennzahlen (Swiss Federal Office for Statistics, Referenda and Key Figures): http://www.bfs.admin.ch/bfs/portal/de/ index/themen/politik/abstimmungen/ blank/kennzahlen0/eidg__volksinitiativen. html.
Gross, A. NR (ZH), Merits and limits of direct democracy, 28 January 2006: http://www. andigross.ch/.
Gross, A. NR (ZH), Visions for the future role of direct democracy in the EU, 27 January 2006: http://www.andigross.ch/.
Chronological directory of Swiss citizens’ initiatives: http://www.admin.ch/ch/d/ pore/vi/vishort.html.
Hangartner, Y. Emeritus professor of law, St. Gallen.
Gross, A. NR (ZH), Colloquium in honour of Werner Hauck, Bern University, 3 March 2006: http://www.andigross.ch/.
Sonderegger, C. & Stampfli, M. (Eds.) (2004). Aktuelle Schweiz. Lexikon für Politik, Recht, Wirtschaft, Gesellschaft.
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Gutenberg Martínez Ocamica
Party Cooperation between Continents: ODCA and a Proposal for the EPP By Gutenberg Martínez Ocamica Globalisation continues to flourish in Latin America, despite the stubborn attempts by certain minority sectors to close the doors on the process—which is yet another example of their historical dislocation. However, the process of globalisation is advancing apace and is now beginning to manifest itself in all areas of social life as well as in politics. There is a clear trend towards the internationalisation of problems and challenges in the region. The main scourge of Latin America is poverty: around 40% of the population lives below the poverty line and this proportion has remained unchanged for a very long time. This situation causes tension in the region’s democracies, compelling parties to come up with quick answers. It is an issue that ethically engages all of us who have made a public commitment to creating the material conditions that will allow every man and woman to satisfy their material and spiritual needs. The dictatorships of the 1980s are a distant memory, and the continent is now seeing real democracy—with the exception of Cuba and with the current reservations regarding Venezuela. With the transition to democracy now complete, citizens are beginning to demand that it offer solutions to their most pressing economic and social problems. Neo-liberal policies, which were incapable of 1
generating enough growth to reduce poverty and instead concentrated wealth even further, were followed by a left-wing neo-populism that now runs through much of the politics of Mexico and South America. Against this backdrop, there is an ever-increasing need to create programmes throughout Latin America that will politically structure centrist and popular Christian Democrat forces. The Christian Democrat Organization of America (ODCA)1 is the strongest international organisation in the region, both because of its electoral representation (member parties attract over a third of all votes) and because it is the only really functional organisation as regards to political backing; effective solidarity; applied consultancy; high-level training; the articulation of the needs of young people, women and workers; and—most relevant to this article— the formulation of a basic programme for the region. The organisation Socialist International (SI) does not have a clear profile, given that it encompasses a multitude of very diverse—and even conflicting—positions, which prevents it from acting with effective objectives. The Union of Latin American Parties (UPLA), which encompasses other parties, some of which were closely associated with the military dictatorships in Chile, El Salvador and Guatemala, lacks presence and activity in the region. All of these circumstances help favour the work and activity of ODCA. In real terms, the growing coordination of leftwing neo-populism in recent years represents the other alternative in the region. However
ODCA-CDOA—Organización Demócrata Cristiana de América (Christian Democrat Organization of America)—comprises 35 parties from Latin America. Founded in 1947, the group has enjoyed a major resurgence in recent years.
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mistaken and irresponsible it may be in its approach, it has tapped into the popular will at important elections throughout Latin America. The peoples of Latin America want to see progress and an end to poverty, and we believe that the coordination of political work in the region will be a strong determining factor in achieving this goal. Our position is clear: we stand at the centre, at a clear remove from political extremes, committed to democracy and human rights. We promote equitable growth in which the social market economy creates more wealth, which is distributed in a manner that eliminates poverty and improves the way earnings are shared out. There are essentially four difficulties in achieving this task: 1. There is no political integration in Latin America. There are plenty of very useful bilateral and sub-regional trade agreements, but no one has yet managed to set up crossborder community bodies with any real faculties. 2. Political parties have a national culture, which tends to prevent them from incorporating international aspects into their platforms and policies. 3. The work of international organisations tends not to encompass the realities of regional political organisations, but falls into the supposed neutrality of international relations. This does not always favour democracy and policies for equitable growth. 4. The role of the political parties has been highly questioned; they are not undergoing the indispensable reforms and the prioritising of civil society needed. This further weakens the proper functioning of political parties. Despite these limitations, ODCA has managed to position itself as a real reference point in the region. Its parties now play a determining
role in many countries, participating in the governments of Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay, as well as in several state governments of countries with federal systems, such as Brazil, Argentina and Mexico. Parliamentarians from the organisation preside over the Latin American Parliament and on its behalf recently took over the presidency of the worldwide Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). Particularly noteworthy are the achievements that have been made in Haitiâ€”where our associate party, led by L. Manigat, came second in the electionsâ€”and our ongoing campaign of solidarity with prisoners in Cuba. An important part of ODCAâ€™s success lies in its historical agreement with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS). This agreement is a model of political cooperation which respects regional and local autonomy and is efficient in its use of resources, constant in its development of programmes, present and solid in dictatorship or democracy, and unwilling to involve itself in untoward demands or roles. To give just one example, for more than thirty years KAS has offered postgraduate scholarship programmes to Latin American countries, enabling many world-class professionals and politicians from Christian Democrat parties to complete their studies at German universities. It is not difficult to imagine what might be achieved if other foundations were to collaborate at the level of institutional policies and objectives in Latin America. Any international movement that seeks to operate in this region must have proposals that will answer the problems of Latin American society. Essentially, these consist of poverty, distribution of earnings, economic growth, integration and social cohesion, and the consolidation of democracy. Any parties joining ODCA must therefore be
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incontrovertibly situated at the political centre and must be committed to democracy and equitable growth. The platform of ODCA prioritises seven areas that apply to the entire continent: 1. The humanisation of our societies: We want growth and development, but we also want to strengthen the family and the community since we reject an individualism that hinders the full realisation of the person. 2. Equity, distance from the ideological egalitarianism of socialism and the selfishness of neo-liberalism, as well as the end of all social discrimination based on race, religion, ideology or gender. 3. Commitment to a greater and better democracy: As humanists we view democracy as a system that needs to be constantly extended and improved. 4. The family as the central institution in any society: The family must therefore be protected and empowered to face the increased demands being placed on it. 5. Humanly and environmentally sustainable development: For many of us, this involves trying to maintain the order of a creation that includes human beings and their needs, a creation that requires a healthy environment rich in sustainable and renewable biodiversity. 6. The priority of education as the public policy that characterises our best efforts: This is the optimum area in which to generate a space for cultivating values, and it will allow progress for all through equal opportunities. 7. And finally, Latin American integration, the great dream of Frei, Caldera and Pastrana: This is an expression of our vision of the
world as a community of communities and involves an effective commitment to achieving better development and collaboration in the construction of a multi-polar world, conceived as the best framework for ensuring human peace and security. These seven proposals have increased the strength and cohesion of our activity in the region and represent the convictions involved in our primary challenges. We know that globalisation is not only an economic, financial and commercial process: It is also a cultural and political one. Latin America requires a regional policy that will allow principles of cooperation and civic fraternity to be applied in the establishment of common objectives for our peoples, with organisations that represent other doctrines but which are willing to make a pluralist contribution to the common good of Latin America. Globalisation is a worldwide process, and it would therefore be a mistake to see the challenges it poses only as regional ones or as limited to the most westernised or regulated areas of the world. Regional and international political organisations require a global perspective, an interpretation of globalisation, with views and objectives based on that reality, and tasks and commitments between regional associations and their global organisations. If we see globalisation as a reality with a worldwide impact over and above the structural problems of our societies, it seems abundantly clear that, like global realities of other eras, it should not be seen as a free and autonomous process. We therefore believe that the first idea or value we must try to apply is that of humanisation. To use the French term (adopted in Mexican
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Party Cooperation between Continents: ODCA and a Proposal for the EPP
by Carlos Castillo), this task is mondialisation, whose aim is to humanise globalisation. We believe this aim reflects our essential belief that any form of materialism ignores the person. While it may result in physical progress, it does not always create societies or worlds in which freedom and solidarity are most deeply-rooted or enforced. This commitment to humanisation must characterise not only a form of cooperation, but also a global attitude, present in all regions and continents. It is not sufficient for our ideas to be present in Europe and Latin America; they must also be spread to Asia, Africa and Oceania. This need becomes all the more pressing in a context of globalisation. Shared cooperation and structuring between the European People’s Party (EPP) and ODCA can be increased because of their historical relationship, their shared values and ideas, and because of the need to show that our conceptions are capable of achieving social equality, defeating poverty and strengthening democracy, with full respect for human rights, even in relatively less developed societies. If we can achieve this goal, then our impact really will be worldwide. False populisms of all kinds, authoritarian menaces and narrow materialism will be replaced by political, humanist, centrist and democratic formulations. A Latin America that is engrossed in its own challenges; a Europe that is excessively focused on enlargement and on its relationship with the United States—these constitute a restricted path which does not meet the global requirement for political initiatives and proposals that will work for all the nations of the world.
Agreement of the ODCA Council communicated to the EPP.
Within this framework, the EPP and ODCA must consider a new agenda and a new procedure for political collaboration. Solidarity and political friendship in themselves are no longer sufficient; joint work must be undertaken that respects the specific political challenges and profiles of each region. This being the case, we would like to make a proposal, one that takes into consideration:2 1. the objective, established at the first summit of the European Union and Latin America and Caribbean countries (EU/LAC; Rio de Janeiro, 28 and 29 June 1999), of setting up a strategic bi-regional association, based on political and economic areas of cooperation; 2. the report adopted in the European Parliament on 15 November 2001 on global association and a common strategy with Latin America; 3. the resolutions of the European Parliament (Brussels, 15 and 30 May 2002) regarding the second EU/LAC Summit; 4. the statement by the councils of the Latin American integration parliaments (Parlatino, Parlandino, Parlacen and the Joint Parliamentary Commission of Mercosur) and the councils of the delegations for relations with Latin America of the European Parliament within the framework of the second EU/LAC Summit (Madrid, 17 May 2002); 5. the communiqué of the Commission to the European Parliament and to the Council (Brussels, 7 April 2004) on the Commission’s objectives within the context of the relations between the European Union and Latin America, with respect to the third EU/LAC Summit
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6. the proposal from the Latin American integration parliaments to provide the strategic bi-regional association EU/LAC with specific contents, issued at the EU/ LAC inter-parliamentary meeting in Puebla (26 March 2004); 7. the conclusions of the seventeenth interparliamentary meeting of the European Union and Latin America (Lima, 16 June 2005); and 8. the preparatory process for the fourth EU/LAC Summit (Vienna, May 2006), a milestone which should mark new advances in the process of strategic cooperation currently underway between the two regions. Our proposal: We strongly recommend that the EPP and ODCA begin working together to establish a common policy on priorities, with a view to advancing the strategic cooperation between the European Union and Latin America in the following areas and tasks. Political area 1. Undertaking determined political action to provide specific contents and to extend the areas in which the strategic cooperation between the European Union and Latin America and the Caribbean is being considered; 2. Promoting a new bi-regional political agenda, prioritising issues such as social cohesion and the war on poverty, democratic governability, the strengthening of political parties, international security, respect for human rights, the situation of migrants, the fight against drug trafficking from a perspective of co-responsibility, the reform of the United Nations system and the preservation of the environment; 3. Reaffirming the supremacy of multilateralism as a framework for global governance, rejecting any unilateral
arrangement and promoting the search for positions of consensus between Europe and Latin America, to be expressed in various negotiations and resolutions of bodies within the multilateral system; 4. Supporting the signing of a Euro-Latin American Charter for Peace and Security by heads of state and government from the European Union and Latin America and the Caribbean, which will allow coordination and cooperation in safeguarding peace in the two regions; 5. Promoting the creation of a transatlantic European-Latin American parliamentary assembly, with a numerically balanced, stable membership to ensure maximum representation of the two regions, to replace the mechanism of EU/LAC interparliamentary meetings. Economic and commercial area 6. Backing the construction of a free trade area between the European Union and Latin America by the year 2010, the characteristics of which must be established through specific negotiations with the different sub-regions of Latin America; 7. Contributing to the creation of conditions to allow the Vienna Summit to advance the process of building an EU/LAC economic association, through the conclusion of the EU/Mercosur agreement and the beginning of negotiations on free trade between the EU and both the Andean Community and Central America; 8. Proposing the creation of an institutionalised forum for dialogue, bringing together employers, workers and politicians from Europe and Latin America, in order to promote trade and investment under conditions that will safeguard the environment and the workplace.
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Social and cooperation area 9. Promoting the creation of a bi-regional Solidarity Fund, with contributions from the European Commission and other international bodies and donor countries, which will allow a base of resources to be maintained to meet urgent needs in Latin America and the Caribbean—principally the war on poverty and marginality, healthcare, education and infrastructures in the most needy countries—in order to achieve greater degrees of social cohesion; 10. Extending development cooperation, increasing resources and focusing activity on the most pressing issues for Latin America and the Caribbean, specifically poverty, education, health, infrastructures and—in terms of relations with Europe— responding to concerns over the living conditions of Latin American migrants; 11. Promoting an exchange of experiences in sectors where the European Union has made greater progress, for example, in connection with certain systems of social protection that allow decent employment and fair pensions to be guaranteed; 12. Providing incentives for a new model of development cooperation, involving issues typical of regional and bi-regional integration, such as imbalances between countries, increases in competitiveness for free trade and adjustments to national policies based on regional coordination; and 13. Encouraging programmes of scientific and academic cooperation targeted at exploring new forms of knowledge, exchanges between educational communities and access to specialist training in academic institutions, especially in Europe.
A shared project between the two organisations, the EPP and ODCA, would help strengthen global action by centrist and popular Christian Democrat parties and would show how a relationship of this sort can extend the bases of human rights, democracy and the social market economy. In short, it would constitute a very significant advance in the mondialisation of international political activity by those of us who belong to a single political family. Finally, it should be noted that the great strides made in terms of ODCA’s growth, cohesion, presence and political action are clear and ongoing, but will be even greater and more definitive as moves are made towards the political integration of the region, through the formation of cross-border community bodies created and legitimised by the direct popular vote. At that time, ODCA—with its organisational strength, its presence in all Latin American countries, the structure of its management (especially among the younger generation), its established shared platform and its clear international commitment—will ensure that Christian humanism will carry greater weight in this new and long-awaited Latin American realm.
Gutenberg Martínez Ocamica is the President of ODCA.
The Evolution and Function of the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party By Annemie Neyts The European Liberal Democrats were the first to create a European political family. The party was founded in March 1976 in Stuttgart, Germany, in view of the first direct elections to the European parliament. The party was established on the basis of the truly visionary Stuttgart Declaration, which contains a number of targets and objectives for a more liberal and united Europe that are still relevant today. On 17 March 2006, members of the European Liberal family once more gathered in Stuttgart to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the ELDR Party and to reaffirm the role that Liberal parties can play in shaping the future of Europe. Political parties like the ELDR Party play a key role in building bridges between citizens and Europe. In my view, political liberalism is not about benevolent paternalistic politicians pretending to know best and polishing their own image; rather, it is about empowering the people and building the indispensable institutions of civil society and political democracy; it is about ensuring civil liberties and human rights; it is about organising truly open economic markets and keeping them open to newcomers; it is about making possible and organising the free flow of ideas, goods and people; it is about safeguarding all of these values for the future of Europe. During my presidency, I will focus on consolidating the ELDR Party and making it a truly transnational political party. In this article, I chart the evolution of the ELDR Party from its creation in 1976. I describe its composition, its
representation and its impact on the national and European political environment and conclude by showing how the Party will continue to grow and exert its influence in the future. History and background Thirty years ago, nine parties sharing European Liberal Democrat values gathered in Stuttgart to create the European Federation of Liberal Parties. Many of the goals outlined in the subsequent Stuttgart Declaration, the founding document of the European Liberal Democrats, still remain to be achieved: the abolition of the remaining administrative restrictions within the European Community on the free movement of persons, goods, services and capital; the adoption of a Constitution for the European Union; the harmonisation of economic and financial policies; and the creation of a common foreign policy. The original federation of Liberal and Democratic parties was made up of nine member parties: • Parti Libéral Bruxellois, Belgium, • Parti de la Liberté et du Progrès (PLP), Belgium, • Partij voor Vrijheid en Vooruitgang (PVV), Belgium, • Venstres Landsorganisation, Denmark, • Parti Radical Socialiste (PRS), France, • Freie Demokratische Partei (FDP), Germany, • Partito Liberale Italiano (PLI), Italy, • Demokratesch partei (DP), Luxembourg, and • Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie (VVD), the Netherlands.
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Membership and structure
vote. An affiliate member can ask to be granted full membership after two years.
每 Types and rights of membership The members of ELDR Continually growing in size and significance, the ELDR Party now comprises 47 political parties from the EU and neighbouring countries. Specifically, the ELDR Party is composed of Liberal and Democrat parties from Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Catalonia, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The ELDR Party is striving to increase its membership base, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe. One example of this is the factfinding mission to the Ukraine which took place in March 2005, shortly after the success of the Orange Revolution led by Victor Yushchenko. The aim of the visit was the coordination of European Liberal efforts in the Ukraine to explore the possibilities of a joint EU application for Ukrainian projects. A level of cooperation was established with several parties in the Ukraine and a template or precedent has been created for establishing contact with parties in other European countries where there is not currently an ELDR Party member. Full and affiliate membership ELDR Party membership is open to all political parties in Europe that satisfy the requirements, notably accepting the Stuttgart Declaration (ELDR founding document). There are two levels of membership. Full members pay a membership fee, which gives them the right to take part in the meetings of the ELDR Party Council and the Congress, to voice their opinion and to vote. Affiliate members also pay a fee and have the same rights as full members except the right to
An application for full or affiliate membership is sent to the Bureau, which passes on the application and its recommendation to the Council. The Council determines whether or not the application meets the membership requirements and makes its decision with a majority of two thirds of the votes cast. E-membership Following the decisions of the Ljubljana Congress in 2002, the ELDR Party has implemented a new section on its website reserved for electronic (or individual) members of the ELDR Party. Such members are entitled to receive privileged information concerning the activities of the ELDR Party, propose debates on specific issues relevant to European liberalism and take part in working groups established and moderated by ELDR Party Bureau members or appointed delegates. An application for individual membership is sent to the Secretary-General. The application is then processed and sent to the Bureau. The Bureau makes its decision by simple majority. 每 ELDR Party statutory bodies In 1993 the ELDR Party became a party rather than a federation, with the aim of developing a statute and identity as a European political party. The ELDR Party has continued to evolve and the statute was updated in 2004 when the party was registered as an international nonprofit organisation (AISBL) under Belgian law. The bodies of the Party are the Bureau, Council and Congress; these are explained in greater detail below. The ELDR Party Presidency We are fortunate to have a rich history of dynamic and energetic presidents. Former presidents of the Party include Gaston Thorn, former Prime Minister of Luxembourg (the first
party president); Colette Flesch, former Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Democratic Party in Luxembourg; Willy De Clercq, former Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium; Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, former Deputy Prime Minister of Denmark; and Werner Hoyer, former State Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany. In September 2005, at the Congress in Bratislava, Slovakia, I was elected ELDR Party President by delegates representing Liberal and Democrat parties from all over Europe. In my vision statement for the party presidency, I declared: “The most fundamental tenets of ELDR, liberalism, the spread of freedom, democracy and economic development by virtue of integration into the EU and the EU herself are being questioned as seldom before. The need for a strong, well-articulated, future-oriented answer from ELDR, the European political party that embodies liberalism has never been greater. I intend to spend a large amount of my time helping ELDR meet the huge challenges it is faced with.” I also said I wanted the ELDR Party to come up with a liberal vision for the future of the EU by June 2006. We have started to stir up real debate among European liberal democrats to come up with a vision that is broadly shared. The Bureau The ELDR Party receives its day-to-day guidance from a small, directly-elected Bureau presided over by the President of the Party. A Brussels-based secretariat facilitates the work and projects identified by the Bureau. Since 2000, the secretariat has been under the leadership of the ELDR Party Secretary General, Lex Corijn of Belgium. Leaders and Ministers meetings The ELDR Party leaders and ministers meetings connect Prime Ministers with the broader network of ELDR Party leaders and the leadership
of the ALDE Group in the European Parliament. Participants also include Foreign Ministers, Commissioners and others attending the summit. The group discusses and reviews the six-month presidency of the Union. This networking is especially important in increasing the political influence of European Liberal Democrats. The meetings are held ahead of European Council meetings, usually in the Palais d’Egmont in the centre of Brussels. The first ELDR Party leaders and ministers meeting in connection with an EU summit took place in Helsinki on 9 December 1999. The most recent summit was in December 2005. Ministers, Commissioners and party leaders expressed their hope that a budget that is future oriented and shows solidarity with the new Member States would be agreed upon. Greater spending should be provided for research and development in order for the EU to play an enhanced role in this area on a global scale. The participants also unanimously called for the granting of candidate status to Macedonia. The next leaders and ministers meeting will take place on 15 June 2006. The Council The ELDR Council is the body responsible for approving the budget and membership applications and is empowered to speak and act on behalf of the ELDR Party. The Council comprises representatives from member parties, ELDR Party members of the European Commission, a LYMEC representative and members of the Bureau ex-officio. Congresses The annual Congress is the supreme decisionmaking forum. Those who attend include delegates from ELDR Party member parties, members of the parliamentary group of the ELDR Party, ELDR Party members of the European Commission and representatives of LYMEC. Every two years, the Congress elects
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the President, Vice-Presidents and the Treasurer of the party.
resolutions have addressed topics such as the following:
The most recent ELDR Party Congress took place in Bratislava, Slovakia, in September 2005. The resolution ‘Working together for a competitive Europe’ was the most important document to be adopted at the Congress. It lists 10 objectives to make Europe more competitive. ELDR parties also adopted a common stance on the EU Constitution and further EU enlargement. Europe’s Liberal Democrat parties call on governments to make the Council legislate in public, introduce the subsidiarity check and involve national parliaments earlier in the EU legislation process.
• Sustainable development: the ELDR Party “welcomes in particular the lead taken by the European Union in promoting goals and actions to achieve sustainable development through reduction of poverty and protection of the environment”;
Further resolutions were adopted supporting the controversial services directive, the country of origin principle, the democratisation process in Azerbaijan, the rights of the Kurdish population in Turkey, the full participation of women in politics, Euro-Mediterranean cooperation, appropriate responses to terrorist attacks, Kosovo and the freedom of scientific research. Previous Congresses have been held in a number of European countries. Of particular note is the 2001 Congress which was held in Ljubljana, Slovenia. By holding the meeting in Slovenia, the ELDR Party became the first European political party to organise its annual congress in an accession country. Furthermore, 2006 will see the ELDR Party Congress take place in another accession country: it will be held in Bucharest, Romania. Resolutions The Secretariats of the member parties and the ELDR Party are responsible for proposing resolutions to the ELDR Party Congress. Amendments to resolutions are discussed and voted upon during the Congress. The ELDR Party has passed a number of resolutions to draw attention to issues that the member parties feel need to be addressed, and to begin to mobilise the membership to participate in activities. Past
• The European constitution: the ELDR Party “calls on Member State governments to use the foreseen time of reflection wisely for a process where governments and opposition parties engage in serious twoway discussions with citizens, NGO’s and social partners”; • Terrorist attacks in Europe and the rest of the world: “We are all under the threat of terrorism, and our common answer to it must correspond with the challenge we face and with the demands of our citizens”; • Security and cooperation in the Middle-East: the ELDR Party “expresses its commitment to a peaceful solution of the Middle East conflict on the basis of negotiations between the conflicting parties consistent with decisions already taken by the United Nations”; • Contributing to third world development: the ELDR Party “urges the EU to work in the WTO to increase preferential market access for developing countries to industrialised countries and to try to include the fight of poverty in the objectives for WTO”; and • Freedom for growth—Building economic success in Europe: the ELDR Party encourages “the further completion of the single market, notably in financial services, and the further liberalisation of monopolies in transport, postal services, energy and telecommunication with respect to public service obligations”.
The role of the ELDR Party ÿ
Connecting with citizens
European political parties play a key role in developing political opinions. They contribute to the forming of a European awareness by getting the citizens of Europe involved in issues at the European level. This function of political parties has been officially recognised by the EU in regulation 2003/04 of November 2003. This regulation helps to give greater influence and purpose to political parties. In many countries with a long history of democracy, citizens have grown up with liberal ideas that are taken for granted and are not directly associated with a Liberal party. At the national level, liberal ideas and liberalism are prevalent in almost every country across Europe. A truly Liberal party stands out, however, when it comes to promoting and defending civil liberties. The European Union is also built on liberal principles, notably when it promotes the freedom of movement of goods, services, labour and capital. I can only agree with what Lex Corijn, our Secretary-General, said on the thirtieth anniversary of our youth movement, LYMEC, on 10 February 2006:“Neither the ELDR Party nor its member parties changed Europe all alone during the past years. But it is also clear that the enormous achievements made in integrating and uniting Europe since 1976 have broadly followed liberal democrat lines.” There is an urgent need to reconnect the citizens of Europe, and particularly the youth of Europe, with the EU. This does not mean discussing how to reform European institutions; it means outlining a new vision of what the EU stands for and reconnecting people with the key founding principles: peace, cultural diversity and economic prosperity through sustained growth. 2006 is the European Year of Workers’ Mobility. This is another area where the ELDR Party and
its youth movement, LYMEC, must work to help Liberals of all ages and especially young Liberals to develop an affinity with the Union. ÿ
Building channels of communication
The Party uses a number of communication tools. These include formal means such as the main website, the e-newsletter, the ELDR Party newspaper Insight and additional information/ promotional leaflets about the Party and its aims. Other methods of communication, which could be termed informal, include my presence and that of other ELDR Party representatives at congresses and events organised not only by the ELDR Party but by our member parties as well. Even on occasions when an ELDR Party representative is not able to attend an event held by one of our member parties, it is often the case that representatives of other member parties are in attendance, which further encourages communication and the exchange of information. Communication with our members is a two-way process. I have encouraged ELDR Party members to promote the fact that they belong to the ELDR Party, for example, by putting the ELDR Party logo on the home page of their website and providing a link to the ELDR Party website. ÿ Building a Liberal platform for European elections In the early days of 1979, the sky was the limit; the future looked bright. The liberal vision of a free, democratic and peaceful Europe, with a strong Parliament at the heart of the European democracy, seemed within reach. This vision is reflected in the ELDR Party logo, the bird of liberty and progress. Liberals set off by train on their first campaign, travelling throughout the nine Member States of the European Community. In 1982 a campaign committee was formed to
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develop a common approach to tackling the 1984 European elections. The core purpose was to enhance communications and bridgebuilding and to bring together secretariesgeneral, i.e. the political managers, from ELDR Party member parties. The committee helped to foster a common identity by using the same colours and logos on promotional material. At the time the ELDR Party logo was an intertwined tree, which was designed to show the unity of the member parties. The June 2004 European parliamentary elections marked the 25th anniversary of the first direct elections to the European Parliament. The EU has changed dramatically, but the Liberals in the European Parliament are still making a difference in actualising Europe’s potential. The ELDR Party rally In April 2004 the ELDR Party organised a big political rally to bring together ELDR Party political leaders and European Parliament candidates from across the newly enlarged Union. The leading European Parliament candidates from member parties across the Union were presented to an audience of parliamentarians, party members, candidates and the press. Then ELDR Party President Werner Hoyer and the leader of the ELDR Party Group, Graham Watson MEP, outlined the ELDR Party’s policies to ‘Free Europe’s Potential’ and highlighted how the ELDR Party has made a difference in the European Parliament. Keynote speakers at the rally included Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, former Slovenian Prime Minister Anton Rop as well as the then President of the European Parliament, Pat Cox, and former Internal Market Commissioner Frits Bolkestein. Also present were the former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy (UK) and FDP leader Guido Westerwelle (Germany). Today there are 105 Liberal and Democrat MEPs and observers in the Parliamentary group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE).
ÿ Representation in European Institutions Political parties play a key role in communicating with and building bridges between citizens at the national and the European level. Representing millions of European voters, the ELDR Party is increasingly well represented in the EU institutions. A comparison between the election results of 2001 and 2004 shows the success the ELDR Party has had in spreading liberalism across the European political landscape. In 2001 the EU had just two Liberal Commissioners and one Liberal Prime Minister. In the European Parliament the ELDR Party Group (as it was known then, prior to the creation of ALDE) consisted of 52 members out of a total of 626 and had no representatives from Austria, France, Germany, Greece or Portugal. In the European Parliament today, the ELDR Party’s interests are represented by the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), which is composed of 90 MEPs and is led by Graham Watson, MEP and member of the Liberal Democrat Party in the United Kingdom. In the European Commission there are currently six Liberal Commissioners: Janez Potocnik, Marianne Fischer-Boel, Neelie Kroes, Louis Michel, Olli Rehn and Siim Kallas. Former Liberal Commissioners include Fritz Bolkestein and Martin Bangemann. In the European Council, the summit of heads of State and Government, the ELDR Party counts five Prime Ministers: • Ansip Andrus (Reformierakond), Prime Minister of Estonia, • Calin Popescu Tariceanu (Partidul National Liberal), Prime Minister of Romania, • Anders Fogh Rasmussen (Venstre), Prime Minister of Denmark, • Matti Vanhanen (Suomen Keskusta), Prime Minister of Finland, and • Guy Verhofstadt (Vlaamse Liberalen en Democraten), Prime Minister of Belgium.
ÿ Co-organising and funding political and information activities with member parties In order to play a role in society at the European, national and local level, the ELDR Party supports a variety of political activities. Member parties are encouraged to propose an activity (often in their respective countries, but sometimes at the European level) and are invited to apply for funding from the ELDR Party. Specifically, the Party will finance decentralised political and information activities about the EU, the ELDR Party, and its member parties and partner organisations. Funding has been given to projects which do the following:
The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) The ALDE is represented in the European Parliament, the Council and the Committee of the Regions. It is common for the ELDR Party to cooperate and jointly organise events with our partners. An example of this is the April conference on the future status of Kosovo that we are co-hosting with the ALDE in the Council of Europe and the ALDE in the European Parliament as well as the Liberal International. The ELDR Party and the ALDE have also built up a fruitful collaboration with other political groups in the European Parliament. The European Liberal Women’s Network
promote liberalism and the role, function and purpose of the EU and its institutions; this can take the form of advertising campaigns or holding conferences and seminars; mobilise party members at EU referendum campaigns; encourage members of parties at the grassroots level to get involved in politics and help to shape policies; suggest effective and efficient ways for better communication between the media and political representatives; improve the relationship between citizens and the state with Liberal proposals at local, regional and European level; and tackle globalisation from a Liberal perspective.
ÿ Cooperating with partner organisations Liberal International Liberal International (LI) is the world federation of Liberal political parties. Founded in 1947, it has become the pre-eminent network for advocating liberalism, strengthening Liberal parties and promoting liberal democracy around the world. The LI and the ELDR Party have particularly strong ties; the idea of creating a federation of European Liberal parties was born in and implemented by the LI.
The European Liberal Women’s Network (ELWN) brings together women politicians and activists from Liberal, Democrat and Reform parties in Europe who are members of the ELDR Party. The current President of the ELWN network is Mrs Androula Vassiliou (United Democrats, Cyprus). The European Liberal Youth—LYMEC The European Liberal Youth (LYMEC) is a panEuropean youth organisation seeking to promote liberal values throughout the EU, particularly through and as the youth organisation of the ELDR Party and its parliamentary group. Comprising about 210,000 members from 72 organisations in 40 countries, LYMEC is made up of member organisations and individual members and is active across the breadth and diversity of the European continent. The central aim of LYMEC is the creation of a liberal and federal Europe. Like the ELDR Party, LYMEC was founded in 1976 to represent its member organisations in the institutions of the European Community, the ELDR Party and the Liberal Group of the European Parliament. LYMEC and the ELDR Party have enjoyed a very productive collaboration over the years, with the shared purpose of spreading liberal ideals across Europe. For a number of years, Volume 3 - Spring 2006
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LYMEC and the ELDR Party existed as one body. Although LYMEC has become an independent organisation, the two still enjoy a high level of cooperation and teamwork. LYMEC, like the ELDR Party, has just celebrated its thirtieth anniversary. The Future European Liberal Democrats are determined to uphold their ideals, today and in the years to come. Whether in parliament or in government, they are striving to remove the barriers that prevent the internal market from being a true economic area and to reform Europe’s economy to make it more prosperous and competitive. They believe in a fair, free and open Europe which enables all of its citizens to fulfil their potential, free from poverty, ignorance and discrimination. Of the practical initiatives that the ELDR Party is undertaking, one of the most important is the debate that I have launched about the future of Europe. The initiative follows the ‘No’ votes on the European Constitution in France and the Netherlands. The first stage of this project involved collecting information such as speeches, resolutions and background documentation from our member parties. The next stage of this debate is now under way; a questionnaire has been sent to all ELDR Party member parties as well as to representatives in the European Parliament and Commission. The data we gather from this exercise will contribute to producing a liberal and democratic vision for a modern and dynamic EU. Furthermore, through supporting political activities such as those mentioned earlier, the ELDR Party will continue to promote and foster liberal ideas and values at both the national and European level. The role of a European political party is to inform the people of what is happening at the European level and help to develop a truly European identity among the public.
Reconnecting with Europe’s citizens is, therefore, vitally important; and developing an effective method of communication with young people is going to be a crucial part of spreading the liberal message across Europe. The ELDR Party and LYMEC will therefore continue to work together to promote the values and ideals that they have shared for the past 30 years and will share for the next 30 years to come. Conclusion Establishing and consolidating the party has long been the aim of many past presidents and secretaries-general. What we have achieved to date is part of that aim. We have established a well-structured party that is able to stand on its own and to operate independently, as is demonstrated by the fact that the ELDR Party has moved out of Parliament and now has its own offices. Our work has laid the foundations on which we must continue to build. There is still a lot of work to be done to create a truly united and liberal Europe. This is something that the ELDR Party and its members and associates will continue to strive to achieve.
Annemie Neyts, Member of the European Parliament, is the President of the ELDR Party and Minister of State.
The Future of European Union Political Parties By John Palmer
The suspension of the proposed European Union Constitutional Treaty, following the ‘no’ vote results in the French and Dutch referenda last year, has disoriented EU political leaders and left the European integration process in a temporary limbo. But the crisis created by the French and Dutch rejection of the treaty has at least stimulated a long overdue debate on just what kind of union the European peoples want to see evolve in the twenty-first century. For the first time since the foundation of the (then) European Economic Communities nearly 50 years ago, some fundamental questions are being asked about the future of the European integration project. Confronting these questions will assist—not obstruct—the eventual but essential reform and revitalisation of the European institutions. Only when there is clarity about what the Member States and the citizens of the Union want to achieve together on issues ranging from economic and social strategy to foreign and security policy can sensible decisions be reached about how to advance the treaty. There is, however, a parallel question—or rather set of questions—the answers to which may determine whether or not European integration—in whatever form—advances or regresses in the years ahead. Will the European Union face a crisis of legitimacy unless EU voters are given effective ownership of the key political decisions that will determine future Union strategy? How can voters take ownership of the process unless they are given the power to decide between
alternative political programmes and alternative leaderships of the EU institutions? How can EU democracy be strengthened in this way unless the embryo EU political parties become genuinely transnational European parties capable of offering voters these choices? The roots of the present crisis What passes for public debate on the future of Europe in so many Member States is itself a chilling judgement on the health of transnational democracy in the Union. This is reflected in the destructively short-sighted way in which the political elites in the majority of Member States tend to conduct EU discourse. Quick to demonise the EU and its institutions when unpopular decisions are taken—very often at the instigation of the Member States themselves—governments have unsurprisingly found it difficult to mobilise public support for the Union and its objectives when they have desperately needed to. The lesson that Member State political leaders should draw is clear. It is not possible to speak of the European Union as little more than a battlefield over which ‘national interests’ are fought for six days of the week and then on the seventh ask the public to vote in support of the same battlefield with conviction and enthusiasm. Fed by the media and by politicians on a diet, at best, of euro-indifference and at worst, of outright euroscepticism, far too many citizens feel an unacceptable distance—even a sense of alienation—has developed between themselves and the European Union. The roots of the current malaise in European public opinion go deeper, however. We live in times when national governments themselves
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almost everywhere are held in low public esteem. International opinion polls across Europe reveal a startling decline in public confidence in their national democratic systems irrespective of the political orientation of specific governments.1 The recent EU referenda have provided an irresistible opportunity for voters to pass judgement on deeply unpopular administrations—in many cases over domestic issues quite unrelated to the treaty or even the European Union in general. Why should voters feel disenchanted with the institutions of their national political lives? One explanation stresses the apprehension felt by large sectors of public opinion at the apparent impotence of national governments in the face of globalisation. In this perspective, even governments in some of the larger EU Member States are seen to be increasingly marginal actors in the dramas played out when global economic pressures lead to painful adjustment being made to national economies, patterns of employment and traditional social and welfare policies. Constricted in the choices they might wish to make, political parties feel obliged to fight elections in an ever-diminishing political place in the electoral middle ground. There is a consequent perception that mainstream political parties are being pushed into more or less the same ideological telephone box. Only populist parties on the fringes of the political system seem likely to benefit from this trend over time. These developments may explain why membership of political parties and—in many countries—voter participation in elections is in decline. This is not a universal trend in all Member States, for reasons which should be more closely examined and understood. But unless electorates feel that their votes make a tangible difference in terms of political outcomes, they do risk becoming increasingly detached from the democratic process.
Although global competitive pressures on Member States may narrow the range of alternative policies that governments believe possible to pursue at national level, choice has not entirely disappeared—as can be seen in the diversity of socio-economic models within the EU. But when they act in concert, the same 25 (or more) EU Member States can surely exploit a greater range of policy options than would be available to them at a purely national level. The global marketplace will always impose some restrictions on the choices available to its participants, although it also provides important new economic opportunities. But the sheer size and relative self-sufficiency of a Union of 25 or more EU states must generate wider policy options in pursuit of European economic, social and sustainability objectives. At present the focus of most policy-makers and decision takers in EU Member States remains trapped within the shrinking horizons of purely national debates. Voters have not been given any reasons for thinking that—by acting together at the European level—it may be possible to achieve objectives that otherwise remain illusory at the national level. In the absence of a sense of democratic purpose behind the development of European integration, it is hardly surprising that public attitudes to the EU have become more cynical. The limits communication
The sense of alienation between voters and their national politicians is reinforced by the conviction that decision-making at the EU level is itself too remote, too esoteric, too technocratic and too elitist. Many citizens believe they are denied the information they need to adequately understand (let alone pass judgement on) what is being done in their name by their governments and by the EU institutions.
Eurbarometer: http://europa.eu.int/comm/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb63_en.pdf (p. 25).
Much can and should be done to improve public knowledge and understanding of how the Union functions and about the key policy issues it faces. However, even the most professional European Union communication strategy can only become really effective if and when Member States take shared ownership with the EU institutions (notably the Commission) for the messages delivered to the public. Messages to the public delivered by ‘Brussels’ alone cannot fill this void.2 The current democratic malaise has deeper roots than poor or inconsistent information and communication. There is a widespread feeling that EU decision-makers are not being held to a properly democratic account. Voters are understandably confused about the division of responsibilities between regional, national and European levels of governance. They have no clear understanding about who is responsible for what—and who is accountable to whom— within the EU decision-making architecture. In this vortex of confusion and ignorance, it is easy to sow myths about the way the EU functions. Populist politicians paint a picture of an EU run by a quasi-authoritarian Commission which is beyond democratic control. It is a myth that has been given too much currency by mainstream political leaders who have found it convenient on occasions to borrow the language and prejudices of outright euroscepticism for their own purely tactical purposes. As former French prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin put it: “Mon premier devoir, c’est l’emploi et non pas d’aller rendre des équations comptables et de faire des problèmes de mathématiques pour que tel ou tel bureau, dans tel ou tel pays soit satisfait.”3 Only relatively small minorities among the European Union public feel outright hostility to the Union as such. Even fewer want to reject membership outright. But there is a growing
consensus that the European Union involves too great an element of ‘rule by unelected bureaucrats’. The public is unsure about who the ‘bureaucrats’ really are. Some wrongly believe that the European Commission has the power to make laws. Few have a clear understanding of the precise functioning of the institutions. The Constitutional Treaty would strengthen the democratic accountability of the Council of Ministers—not least by requiring it to pass all laws in public instead of behind closed doors. In recent years the Council of Ministers has been required to act in a more transparent fashion. But further reforms are urgently needed. The treaty also extends the European Parliament’s law-making rights as the legislative partner of the Council of Ministers. By enshrining the Charter of Fundamental Rights the treaty also indirectly ensures important citizens’ rights become legally judiciable in the European Court of Justice. MEPs also have more influence in the pre-legislative policy debate than most national parliamentarians. In modern European democracies, the public expects not only to be consulted but also to help directly shape the future direction of decision-making bodies. Within Member States voters do this primarily by exercising choice between competing party political programmes, and potential leaders in elections at local and regional—as well as national—elections. This is not the situation in elections to the European Parliament. At present citizens are powerless to determine the political leadership of either the European Commission or the Council of Ministers—the two parts of the EU double-headed executive. It is no longer credible to point to the indirect democratic mandate that Presidents of the Council and the President of the Commission receive as a result of being appointed by the leaders of elected Member State governments. The responsibilities the EU has
See Europe: Whose Europe? An Address by John Palmer to the European Union Informal Ministerial Conference on ‘Communicating Europe’, April 7, 2004 – European Policy Centre (www.theepc.be) Full address: http://www.theepc.be/en/ default.asp?TYP=SEARCH&LV=279&see=y&PG=TEWN/EN/directa&AI=355&l=. Cited in Le Monde, 6 September 2003: “M. Raffarin ne veut pas rendre de compte à l’Europe.”
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now been given by its Member States demand that Presidents of the Commission should have a direct democratic mandate of their own. The political elite may imagine that information or more professional communication with citizens will suffice to close this gap between the public and the EU institutions. This, I fear, will not be the case. There has to be a radical change in the relationship between voters and the EU institutions. This process of change can only be begun if the embryo European Union political parties develop the self-confidence to offer voters a genuine choice, not only about strategic policy but also about the political leadership of the Commission—hopefully by the time of the next elections to the European Parliament in June 2009. The evolution of European parties At present we cannot say with confidence that European political parties really exist. Until very recently the most that could be said about those political groups in the European Parliament that described themselves as “parties” was that they were loose confederations of national parties with (a greater or lesser) ambition to become fully fledged transnational parties. There are indications that at least some of the major EP political groups are at last serious about achieving full party status—a development that the Constitutional Treaty would encourage by giving European parties their own legal identities and by providing funding.4 Indeed in a major development agreed on by the European Parliament in March of 2006, voters in all 25 countries would in future choose from the same lists of candidates put forward by European political parties. Individuals would be able to join the European parties—which would have a central role in European referenda and in the election of the Commission President. The Parliament called for EU legislation and
endorsed financial reforms to assist the parties in developing beyond umbrella organisations for national parties. MEPs called for an increase in the €8.4 million shared between European parties last year, to take account of EU enlargement and increased operational costs. Other measures approved by the European Parliament include the development of European political foundations and support for European parties’ youth organisations. It is true that—on paper—European political parties have existed for a long time, albeit in the shadow of the European Parliament political groups. Today, there are eight political parties that receive public support on the basis of current EU legislation. But they all fall well short of being a ‘European party federation’ or a ‘fully fledged party’. It remains to be seen now whether the Council of Ministers—representing Member State governments—will agree to these modest but vital reforms. There are obstacles in the way of European parties becoming serious players in the political life of the EU. It is not clear whether or how individual membership of such parties should best be constituted. National parties have already had to confront a similar issue in the context of regional devolution. This led to the creation of specifically ‘regional’ parties—linked to their political family at the national level but with a considerable degree of autonomy. Catalonia and Scotland are cases in point. There appears to be no valid reason why individual members joining parties that are simultaneously active at the regional, national and European levels should not enjoy specified rights at all levels. More important is the need for European parties to establish their autonomy and their own identity—vis-à-vis their constituent national parties—in those policy areas that are properly the business of the European Union. Again, the experience of Member States with constitutional
The positive proposals for strengthening the role of the European Parliament, and its parties, are well set out in The Struggle for Europe’s Constitution by Andrew Duff, MEP, published Federal Trust, London.
devolution demonstrates that it is perfectly possible for parties within the same political family (Christian Democrat, Social Democrat, Liberal, Green or whatever) to forge distinctive programmes and policies at the different levels of governance. At present the lopsided balance of power within most political parties, as between national leaderships and European representatives, allows the latter little opportunity to establish themselves and their policies in the consciousness of voters. Worse still, in some parties national leaderships threaten independent-minded Members of the European Parliament with loss of political favour even when those members are seeking to act in solidarity with their European party colleagues. One of the more pernicious features of the present system is the ‘top–down’ fashion in which some national parties select candidates for European party election lists. My colleague at the European Policy Centre, Guillaume Durand, has proposed a more constructive model based on the German federal party election system. This combines the advantages of a first-pastthe-post system with an even distribution of seats assured by the proportional system, while encouraging parties to wage an electoral campaign at the European level. Each citizen would vote for an individual candidate in his or her local constituency and would also cast a vote in support of a party list presented at the national level. The proposal for establishing a threshold at the European level deserves further exploration. Only those parties affiliated with a European party that attains such a threshold would benefit from the proportional distribution of seats at the national level. This would undoubtedly encourage European and national party formations to work much more closely together. The Constitutional Treaty does not allocate seats to different Member States. However, it foresees that the European Council,
on the initiative of the Parliament itself, should decide upon the composition of the European Parliament. The EP has an unprecedented window of opportunity to design a uniform electoral system. Such a system would bring Europe closer to its citizens and at the same time, enhance the European dimension of the electoral campaign by making the performance of European parties pivotal to success at the national level.5 Developments have not all been negative, however. The European Parliament has acquired significant (if still too limited) powers as a result of successive EU Treaties. The role of the Parliament as co-legislator with the Council of Ministers would be further enhanced under the proposed Constitutional Treaty. Since the last European elections EU political parties have attempted to establish themselves as distinct political entities. There is evidence that at least in their voting behaviour, EP political groups are motivated now less by national interests and more by transnational political/ideological differences. In a study of this striking shift in voting patterns, Simon Hix, Professor of European and Comparative Politics at the London School of Economics states: “… on the positive side, and potentially far more profound, is the emergence of a genuine ‘democratic party system’ in the European Parliament. First, voting in the Parliament is more along transnational and ideological party lines than along national lines, and increasingly so. The main European parties in the Parliament—such as the European People’s Party (EPP), the Party of European Socialists (PES), and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE)—are now more ‘cohesive’ in their voting behaviour than the Democrats and Republicans in the US Congress. Second, competition and coalitionformation between the parties in the Parliament is increasingly along left-right lines, with the
‘A European Parliament really closer to the people’: An Ideas Factory European (December 2004) publication produced by the European Policy Centre (www.theepc.be).
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‘grand coalition’ between the PES and EPP gradually giving way to shifting centre-left or centre-right majority legislative coalitions. These developments are quite remarkable when one considers that voting in the other main EU legislative institution (the Council) is primarily along national lines, and that the parties in the European Parliament are not forced by a ‘government’ to ‘back them or sack them’, which is why parties in national parliaments are generally highly cohesive.” 6 There will be a price to be paid if European political parties are encouraged to develop a more coherent transnational European character. There will be painful adjustments to be made by the national constituent parties if the European parties are to espouse common European policies and strategies. Those bold enough to take the lead within the European parties may find they fall out of favour—in the short term at least—in the eyes of the national leaderships. But the incentive for parties to take this path is precisely to enable them to tap into the political legitimacy and influence within the EU institutions, which fighting and winning elections on a clear policy mandate would give them. Giving substance to European elections There are other substantive problems to be tackled. Voter turnout for the European Parliament elections has also shown a worrying decline. It may be worrying but it should not be surprising. A more relevant question might be: why do voters participate in the numbers they do when the consequences of voting in the EP elections appear so marginal? European elections are fought almost exclusively on second-hand domestic issues. In practice voters are asked to pass judgment about their national administrations, although European elections have no impact on who governs in any Member State.
European elections are simply not about enough at present to capture the imagination and enthusiasm of the electorate. A vote in the European Parliament election has no executive outcome. National and regional assembly voters can elect or dismiss governments. A vote in the EP election elects neither the President of the Commission (one key part of the European executive) nor the President of the Council of Ministers (the other part of the EU executive). The real wonder is that voting turnout in European elections has remained as high as it has. If there is to be any reworking of the agreed text of the Constitutional Treaty, it should include clearer wording about the election of future Commission Presidents through the European Parliament. The emerging European Union political parties (which are hopefully now evolving from being mere collections of national parties) should nominate their preferred candidate for the post of Commission President as part of their European Parliament election campaigns in 2009. The European Parliament would then take the final decision on who is made Commission President. The job of the European Council (the EU heads of government) should be to ensure that the process is carried through constitutionally and then ratify the decision of the Parliament. All of this will involve an unambiguous politicisation of the Commission. Understandably, some insist that the Commission has been most influential when it has acted consensually and above party politics. Historically this is true. But the European Union has now evolved to the extent that citizens must be able to make their strategic political choices knowing how this will affect the kind of leadership the Commission will seek to offer. The European Union has, without doubt, been built primarily through a process of cross-party
‘ The European Parliament – stocktaking and challenges’ by Professor Simon Hix in ‘After the annus horribilis – a review of the European institutions’, EPC Working Paper No.22 – January 2006 (www.theepc.be).
consensus. It probably will always be the case that major decisions will only be taken by the institutions, including the Parliament, by drawing on broad elements of consensus. In the future there will still be powerful political forces at work in all the institutions—including the Parliament—making broad eventual consensus on decisions necessary. But there is all the world of difference between a process begun through policy debate and confrontation and leading to a negotiated consensus, and one which rests on some pre-determined consensus reached by diplomatic negotiation. As far as the European Parliament is concerned, it is essential that such consensus be arrived at only after a process where clear-cut policy alternatives are presented by the parties for debate—drawn from the differing strategies already put for voters’ approval in the five-yearly elections. This ‘politicisation’ process is already starting to be reflected within the European Commission. Paradoxically this may be being made easier by the more overtly political character of the present Commission led by Jose-Manuel Barroso. The electoral shift to the right and centre-right in elections across the EU in recent years is now reflected in the composition of the Commission. Indeed the cross-party ‘coalitionism’ that has traditionally characterised the Commission has been further weakened by the abolition under the Nice Treaty of the second Commissioner appointed in the past by the larger Member States. This has had the effect of radically reducing Commissioners drawn from centre-left parties in the present college. In the longer run, however, this de facto politicisation will be a healthy (and in any case probably irreversible) development. It is too soon to be sure whether the emerging European political parties will be able to define their respective ideological territories with sufficient clarity on issues of sufficient importance to give voters a real sense of political choice in the 2009 European Parliament election. Important divisions are beginning to emerge between the major EP parties on issues such as
the future of the European economic and social model, the services directive and the weight to be given to environmental sustainability in EU economic strategy. Defining strategic policy options by European parties will be a complex business given the interplay with ideological territories occupied by the same parties at national level. But these problems are already evident within the different European ‘political families’ at present. There are, for example, profound ideological differences within the European People’s Party dividing the great majority of constituent Christian Democratic parties and their more recent affiliates from right wing and— increasingly eurosceptic—conservative parties. Disagreements about the extent of European party political autonomy from Member State parties are also observable within the European social democrat, liberal and green parties. The discussion about EU strategy is only beginning among left wing socialists. It is also unclear is whether the increasingly important area of foreign, security and defence policy (which is likely to be a major driving forces behind the next phase of European cooperation and integration) will be susceptible to debate between the European parties. In the past external policy has quite often been consensual at national level and with most cleavages being between Member States, not between political families. But with the ever-closer coordination of national foreign and security policies within CFSP (in spite of the Iraq split), this may be changing. Foreign and security policy is primarily a matter for inter-governmental cooperation between Member States and does not fall within the classical legal scope of EU ‘Community law’ (although other important elements of external policy do). However, as EU governments increasingly act together in the field of foreign and security policy (including some areas of defence) neither national parliaments nor the European Parliament have proved effective in
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The Future of European Union Political Parties
holding Member States governments properly to account. How should EU decision-makers be held to account when they are not acting under ‘Community law’ but through looser forms of inter-governmental cooperation? Foreign and security policy is a case in point. More can surely be done to strengthen the role of national parliaments in scrutinising the policies and voting positions of their governments within the Council. But at present, there is a worrying grey area for democratic accountability where governments avoid effective scrutiny by both national parliaments and the European Parliament. Indeed, this failure of accountability may also be a problem in the new and rapidly growing field of European justice, policing and internal security policy. Member State cooperation and joint policies on the fight against terrorism, for example, have very significant implications for human rights and civil liberties. One possibility in these areas of hybrid responsibility shared by national and EU governance might be to give representatives of both national parliaments and the European Parliament real powers of invigilation and policy approval. The parliaments could be collectively and jointly empowered to amend or reject policies advanced by the Council of Ministers when they are acting outside the Community legal framework. Unfortunately no convincing models of how this could be done have yet emerged. Towards a European demos The existing provisions of the EU Treaties, including the Constitutional Treaty, do mark an important advance in the powers and role of the elected European Parliament. But if democratic politics at the European level is to become a reality, the elected European Parliament must be given eventual equality in terms of co-legislative powers with the Council of Ministers. It is also profoundly unhealthy that the European Parliament has an important voice
in determining how EU revenue is spent, but no powers to raise revenue. The present system for financing Union policies is opaque, unbalanced and open to charges of foul play by Member States. However, the planned midterm review of the 2007–2013 financial perspectives due to be held in 2008/9 will provide the European political parties with an important opportunity to open a long overdue debate about European taxation and expenditure There is also a case for the direct election of the proposed President of the European Council. It partly depends on what exact functions are attached to this job. If it is primarily to better coordinate between Member States in the Council of Ministers, appointment might suffice. But if the post is seen as the constitutional head of the Union, a direct election would be essential. Whereas the election of the Commission President would be via the elections to the European Parliament, the election of the President of the Council/European Union could be direct. Sooner or later the two Presidencies should be merged (in much the way that the Constitutional Treaty rightly proposes to merge the functions of the High Representative for CFSP and the Commissioner for External Relations in the post of European Foreign Minister). At this point any attempt to appoint rather than elect such an ‘integrated’ EU President would become a democratic scandal. Of course the process of creating a true European demos will not be accomplished overnight. It will be objected that the public will not readily vote for candidates for the Commission Presidency even when they are attached to the lists of transnational European parties. There were similar fears before the introduction of elections for the Presidency of the United States when it was thought voters in one state would not elect a candidate from another state. They proved transient difficulties. It will take years—maybe decades—before a
European demos comes to full fruition. But a start to the creation of a European Union transnational democracy cannot be delayed. Of course, the creation of a European demos will not threaten democracy at the national, regional or local level. Rather, it will reinforce the accountability of all levels of governance. All the available evidence suggests that whatever the doubts about the current decision-making system in the European Union, citizens do recognise the importance of the EU acting through shared sovereignty areas where Member States would be incapable of acting effectively on their own.
John Palmer is a member of the Governing Board of the European Policy Centreâ€”the Brusselsbased think-tank. He was Political Director of the EPC from 1996 to 2005. From 1975 to 1996 he was the European Editor of the Guardian.
Volume 3 - Spring 2006
The EPP and the EPP-ED Group: Success through Synergy By Hans-Gert Pöttering
This year we celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the European People’s Party (EPP). The undeniable political success of the EPP—the oldest Europe-wide political party—is rooted primarily in the close and fruitful cooperation throughout this period between the EPP and our political group in the European Parliament, the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats (EPP-ED). In discussions, I am often asked whether, and to what extent, the existence of a transnational party influences the success and the dynamism of our MEPs’ political work. In reply, I draw attention to those political groups in the European Parliament—such as the Greens (Greens/ EFA), which operated for a considerable time without a counterpart in the European party landscape, and whose appeal and influence are thus undoubtedly less than that of the EPP-ED Group. The founding of the EPP in 1976 was the response to a need felt by the Christian Democratic parliamentarians appointed to Strasbourg. From the start of the European unification process, these politicians worked together as a political group, at first in the Common Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1953 and later in the European Parliament. As the integration process intensified, they felt the need to draw upon the support of a European party organisation. Following the first direct elections to the European Parliament in 1979, the national party leaderships also recognised the political and practical opportunities that such integration could afford.
The positive impact of the Party’s formation was not initially reflected in the number of parliamentary seats gained. After the first direct elections to the European Parliament, the Group lost ground to the Social Democrats. Between 1989 and 1994, with a 23% share of the seats (compared to 50% in 1950), the EPP Group held the lowest number of seats at any time in its history. This all-time low was, however, overcome in the 1990s when the EPP and the Group adopted a new direction and increased their joint efforts to include and integrate other European centre and centre-right parties. In 1999 the EPP-ED Group became the largest group in the European Parliament for the first time since the introduction of direct elections. Over the years, the EPP and the EPP-ED Group have undergone a transformation from a Christian family that was tailored to fit the ‘Europe of the Six’ into an open political family encompassing all of Europe and including moderate and lay parties. This transformation process clearly demonstrates that our key strength lies in our ability to adapt to social change and to new circumstances, whilst maintaining our core values and principles based on the Christian vision of humankind. In this respect the cooperation between the EPP-ED Group, which concentrates on practical policy-based or legislative work, and the EPP itself, whose mission and activities are more long-term in focus and address key strategic issues relating to the development of the Union and society as a whole, is of fundamental importance. In many respects, thirty years after the founding of the EPP, the expectations of this cooperation have been fulfilled and synergies greatly increased. In the 2004 European elections —the culmination of our continent’s historic reunification process—our political family was
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able to achieve a dual success. Firstly, thanks to the preparatory work undertaken by the Party, our Group succeeded in maintaining its status as the largest group in the European Parliament, admitting members from all the new Member States: from the Central and Eastern European countries, as well as from Malta and Cyprus. Secondly, with the support of the EPP, a Commission President from our political family was elected. The 2004 European elections and subsequent developments have demonstrated that the EPP-ED Group’s record of success and its ability to shape the political agenda and priorities at European level are due to effective and successful interaction between the Group and the Party. Today the EPP-ED Group is the only political group in the European Parliament comprising MEPs from all 25 EU Member States. But its political strength does not lie solely in its status as the largest group, with 264 MEPs. Whilst its significant size ensures considerable influence over Parliament’s decision-making processes, the EPP-ED Group’s far-reaching political influence also reflects the fact that decisions are based on common values and a broad transnational consensus. Ensuring the broad representation of all the EU Member States and a transnational consensus within the Group would not have been possible without the preparatory and programmatic work undertaken in the EPP. Over the years, close cooperation and mutual support have developed, based on strong and manifold political links. These have made it possible for the political family of the EPP to play a part in all the stages of the European unification process, not least in the drafting of a European Constitution in the framework of the European Convention. Precisely as decision-making within the EU is becoming more challenging due to the larger number of Member States, critical importance is being awarded to consensus-finding within our political family and to fostering the EPP’s proactive role. We must maintain and strengthen
our family’s ability to shape the political agenda. In this context, I will conclude with a number of suggestions for further deepening our successful cooperation in the future. Common values and political links: the basis for effective cooperation ‘March separately, strike together’: this phrase could vividly describe the relationship between the EPP and the EPP-ED Group. Under the European parties’ new legal status—which we decisively shaped—the Party and the Group are legally separate entities. But we both work for the common goal of asserting shared values and deepening European integration. This community of fundamental values, with its common political programme, is the real starting point for our manifold links and strong cooperation at the European level. This co-operation is reinforced in practical terms through close personal links. The EPP President, Wilfried Martens, was, for instance, my predecessor as Chairman of the EPP Group in the European Parliament, whilst I am the ex-officio Vice-President of the EPP and Member of the Presidency of the Party. United values The EPP draws its identity from a set of core values based on Christianity and a personalised view of humankind—as enshrined in the Basic Programme adopted in 1992 in Athens. In political terms this is reflected in a resolute rejection of the socialist conception, in which the state dominates. In this respect, the EPP and our Group in the European Parliament constitute an open, Europe-wide political family of the centre, whose identity is based on the reconciliation of what are in fact only apparent opposites, namely freedom and responsibility, market efficiency and social justice, the nation state and Europe. These principles set forth in the Basic Programme still remain the values of both the Party and the Group. And here it is important to note that the progressive opening up of the Group and then
of the EPP—after 1989 and during the course of European Union enlargement—to parties that, historically, did not come from the traditional Christian Democratic spectrum has in no way taken place at the expense of our identity. On the contrary, every step of integration has occurred in adherence with the principles and objectives enshrined in the Basic Programme. Admission to the EPP is, after all, contingent on not only recognising this Programme and the EPP Statutes, but also accepting democratic decision-making. The diversity of traditions and the very short history, to date, of some of the newly formed parties in the new Member States inevitably caused tensions within both the Party and the Group. Here the process of agreeing to a common programmatic basis plays a key role in overcoming differences. As a former EPP Secretary-General put it, “Programmatic work is integration work.” Although the Basic Programme of Athens has by no means lost its validity, the EPP is nevertheless engaged in an ongoing programmatic process. Over the last few years the EPP has been very successful in its endeavours, through a variety of working groups and think-tanks, to give utmost priority to democratic debate within the Party, and thus to work towards a common political identity. Ahead of every EPP Congress, a joint Working Group on ‘European Policy’ (currently chaired by Wilfried Martens, EPP President and former Prime Minister of Belgium) drafts a comprehensive programme. This happened ahead of the EPP Congress in Brussels in February 2004, with the aim of preparing a comprehensive Action Programme that could be endorsed by all member parties in an enlarged European Union. A similar process was under way in advance of the EPP Congress in Rome in March 2006. Its objective was to determine the EPP’s position on the debate over the future of the European Union, with the goal of giving fresh impetus to the EU. Under the Rapporteurship of the German CDU politician Peter Hintze, representatives of the EPP member
parties and of the EPP-ED Group in the European Parliament were participating in the drafting of this Congress document, entitled ‘A Europe of Citizens: Priorities for a Better Future’. The EPP-ED Group has three representatives in each of the Party’s working bodies and is thus involved in drafting all documents and resolutions—providing a specific contribution by introducing its practical experience of the European legislative process. For example, in preparing the Congress document for Rome, the Group has made substantive contributions on issues like the future of the European Constitution and the financing of the European Union. All members of the Group who belong to one of the EPP member parties can attend the EPP Congresses as delegates and have a say in the Party’s political direction and programme. This progressive development of a common political identity, along with the ongoing programmatic work involving the Group, the EPP and its member parties, has been—and remains—a key factor in creating consistency in the work of our political family at the European level. This is particularly so for the EPP-ED Group, since the joint work is key to the Group’s ability to play an innovative and effective role in shaping legislation in the European Parliament. Institutional integration Alongside our political identity, institutional integration and cooperation also provide a major contribution to consistency, cohesion and consensus in our political work. This integration facilitates, beyond the individual member parties, inclusion and coordination at all levels. The Rules of Procedure of the EPP-ED Group establish in Article 4a a simple but very precise rule: all Members of the European Parliament who are members of one of the member parties of the EPP automatically belong to the Group. This rule creates a particularly close link to the Party. Effectively, membership in the EPP-ED
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Group in the European Parliament runs through the Party and, consequently, presupposes the recognition of the values and the programme of the EPP. Furthermore, other members of the European Parliament who belong to a party which is not a member party of the EPP may also become members of the EPP-ED Group so long as they subscribe to the political programme of the EPP and accept the Rules of Procedure of the Group (Article 4b). Finally, Members of the European Parliament who have become ‘allied members of the Group’ under Article 5 of the Rules of Procedure are affiliated with the EPP through the European Democratic Union (EDU), which merged with the EPP in 2002. Starting with William Hague in 1998, the leaders of the British Conservative Party have also attended the EPP party summits. The introduction of Article 5 has thus created an additional possibility to ally with the Group. It enables parliamentary cooperation with those parties whose positions are concordant with those of the EPP members of the Group on most legislative issues, whilst maintaining the right of our allied Members to promote and develop their distinct views on constitutional and institutional issues. The admission under Article 5 of members to the ‘ED part’ of the Group requires approval by majority vote of the EPP members of the Group. The new EPP Statutes, which recently entered into force, also foster close cooperation between the Party and the Group by establishing a range of statutory points of contact. All members of the EPP-ED Group who are elected on the list of an EPP member party are ad personam ‘Individual Members’ of the EPP. The Chairman of the EPPED Group is ex officio a Vice-President of the EPP and a member of the Presidency of the Party, which—bearing in mind that this body meets at least eight times annually—offers an important opportunity for coordination. Furthermore, the report of the Chairman of the EPP-ED Group is a regular item on the agenda of every meeting of the EPP Political Bureau. The members of the Presidency of the EPP-ED Group, the Heads of
National Delegations of the EPP-ED Group, and the EPP Members of the Bureau of the European Parliament are also ex officio members of the EPP Political Bureau. Finally, I should add at this point that the number of delegates to the Political Bureau, and the number of votes each of the national parties has, depends on the number of members elected to the European Parliament. These numerous links offer scope for an intensive exchange of information and an efficient coordination of political work. Alongside the mechanisms just described, the close practical cooperation between the Group and the Party in the framework of the Party organs is further reinforced through equally close personal and inter-personnel links. During the party’s growth period from 1994 to 1999, for instance, Wilfried Martens held both the post of EPP President and that of Chairman of the Group. MEPs belonging to the Group have always played a key role in the work of the Party. The Vice-President of the European Parliament, Ingo Friedrich (CDU), for example, is the longstanding Treasurer of the Party, whilst the former Secretary-General of the EPP, Klaus Welle, subsequently became a recent Secretary-General of the EPP-ED Group. Under one umbrella: Harmonising Party and Group memberships At first, the Group of the EPP faced a steady decline in the number of its MEPs following the successive enlargements of the European Union. Its political fortunes began to change in 1989 and this process has continued unbroken until today: from 1989 to 1999, there was an upward trend based on progressively opening up to parties beyond the traditional Christian Democratic family. These efforts bore fruit in the 1999 European elections. For the first time, the European Parliament witnessed a clear majority of centre and centre-right parties. The reason why the EPP-ED Group has now emerged as the most politically influential group in the European Parliament is that it has succeeded, in close cooperation with the Party, in uniting the
centre and centre-right forces in the European Union—and, looking ahead, in the future EU Member States—within a major people’s party. With this successful policy of openness, which was also the result of effective interaction between the Party and the Group, the Group was able to acquire the structural capacity to achieve majorities and set a course towards becoming the largest political group. The joint efforts to integrate new political forces of the centre and the centre-right were successfully carried out both by the Group and by the Party. With the accession to the EPPED Group of the Members of the European Parliament of the French Rassemblement pour la République (RPR) in 1999, the French Gaullists set out on the way leading to their inclusion in the EPP family, which was completed in 2001 with their membership in the Party. Similarly, the good cooperation with the MEPs of Forza Italia within the Group since 1999 led to membership in the Party. Doubts that had at first been expressed within the EPP about the membership of Forza Italia could be cleared up not least due to the reliability of the new Italian members of the Group. The latest example of successful integration is that of the Portuguese Centro Democratico Social - Partido Popular, whose MEPs have been part of the Group since 2004 and have recently joined the EPP part of the Group, whilst the party itself will soon become an EPP member party as well. As in the case of the 15 ‘old’ EU Member States, there was a need, ahead of the historic accession of ten countries from Central and Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean, for renewed cooperation—tailored to the specific political circumstances—and for the integration of the parties of these countries into the EPP and the EPP-ED Group. The preparatory work was undertaken inter alia within the framework of the European Union of Christian Democrats (EUCD), which has been part of the EPP since 1996 as the Working Group on “Enlargement and EPP Membership”. This work was of critical importance for our political family ahead of the
2004 ‘enlargement’ European elections. During these years, the Working Group on Enlargement became the political forum for cooperation in the form of seminars, conferences and information exchanges. It thus prepared the ground for the future success of our political family and secured the Group’s position as the largest political group in the European Parliament. Alongside the work of the EPP, which focussed on party connections, the EPP-ED Group worked hard as early as the 1994-1999 parliamentary term to establish dynamic convergences at the parliamentary level. The Group established joint working groups with politically close groupings in the parliaments of the candidate countries; latterly, similar working groups were established within the framework of the Convention on the Future of Europe. As the dates for the national accession referenda approached, the Group stepped up its efforts and developed a comprehensive information and political training strategy for these countries. The 2004 European elections highlighted the success of this political work undertaken in the accession countries, and demonstrated the key importance of a coordinated approach by the EPP and the EPPED Group to ensure the dynamics and ability of our political family to secure parliamentary majorities. As a result of this coordinated process of opening up, which was carried out in parallel by the EPP and the EPP-ED Group—a political Group which embraces all 25 countries of the enlarged EU—the membership of the Party and the Group is, in all but a few exceptions, the same. In essence, the difference in membership of the Party and the Group is limited to the British Conservatives and the Czech ODS, which are members of the Group under Article 5 of the Rules of Procedure of the EPP-ED Group, but not members of the EPP Party. Practical approaches cooperation
The last thirty years of shared history has
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resulted in cooperation mechanisms that have created and reinforced the strong links between the Party and the Group. Political and substantive coordination, as mentioned earlier, is achieved through the framework of the EPP Political Bureau, the EPP Congresses and the five permanent EPP working groups. A further aspect of our unique relationship deserves special mention. The EPP Summits of Heads of Government and Party Leaders, customarily held in advance of the European Council meetings, are particularly important for the coordination of the political work within our family. Here too, the involvement of the EPP-ED Group in the person of its Chairman and its Secretary-General has proved essential. As the role and rights of the European Parliament progressively strengthen, it makes sense to involve Parliament from the outset, particularly regarding legislative matters and in relation to institutional or budget-related topics. After all, it is Parliament which must ultimately participate in the implementation of the decisions of the European Council in the framework of the legislative process. Concrete examples of successful cooperation between the EPP and the Group Drafting the Constitution for Europe Cooperation between the Party and the Group, and the relationship between these two key pillars of our political family, does not always follow a prescribed or rigid pattern. Therefore, new and innovative ways of cooperating have been pursued. A good example of this was the successful partnership between the Party and the EPP-ED Group on the drafting of the Constitution for Europe in the framework of the European Convention. In December 2000, the Nice European Council agreed to the revision of the Treaties in order to prepare the EU institutions for enlargement. However, in light of past experiences and the way the European Summit in Nice was conducted,
there was consensus in the EPP political family that the existing intergovernmental opinionforming and decision-making process had reached its limits. The 2001 EPP Congress in Berlin took up the proposal, put forward by the EPP-ED Group, that the European Constitution be drafted by a Convention, akin to the successful model previously established to draft the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. The idea gained strength in the political opinion-forming and decisionmaking process across Europe, with the result that in late 2001 the Laeken European Council decided to convene a constitutional convention. In response to this decision, the EPP at its 2002 Congress in Estoril presented a draft constitution for Europe. Entitled A Constitution for a Strong Europe, it was based on a paper produced by Wilfried Martens, President of the EPP, and Wolfgang Sch채uble, with substantial input from a number of Group members. The EPP thus became the first European party to present a comprehensive concept for a European Constitution. In short, the Constitution should aim to clarify in a clear, transparent and comprehensible manner the respective areas of competence of the European Union and the Member States, incorporate the Charter of Fundamental Rights on a legally binding basis, and define a new institutional framework for the European Union. As the national governments prepared for the Convention, the key task became to influence the constitutional proposal, as well as its implementation. It was the EPP which seized the initiative and established contact with the Convention members belonging to or associated with the EPP. In February 2002, before the Convention began its work, around forty Convention members with links to the EPP were brought together under the chairmanship of Elmar Brok, a member of the Convention and the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the European Parliament.
The EPP ‘Convention Group’ convened for numerous coordination meetings ahead of the Convention’s meetings and also organised five study days to focus in detail on the drafting of a constitutional text. The Convention Group also elected a Praesidium which met before each meeting of the Convention’s Presidency. Thanks to the close cooperation initiated by the EPP, the Convention Group fostered an excellent mutual understanding and, above all, a common political line between the representatives of the EPP Group and the representatives appointed by the national governments and parliaments. Due to the united stance of the Convention Group members in the constitutional assembly, large parts of the original document adopted in Estoril are reproduced in the current draft constitution. Electing the Commission President A further example of new and successful approaches to cooperation between the EPP-ED Group and the EPP was their influence over the election of the Commission President in 2004. The nomination in 1999 of Romano Prodi, a Liberal, by the heads of state and government, in a process which did not involve the European Parliament and ignored the outcome of the European elections, conflicted with the EPP political family’s endeavours to make the decision-making processes in the European institutions more democratic and transparent. In the EPP’s view, peoples’ votes in the European elections should also be able to influence the nomination of the Commission President and thus the direction taken by the European Commission. The Commission President should come from the political family that won the European elections. The need to reflect Europe’s political landscape in the appointment of the new Commission after European elections was widely recognised. The EPP members of the Convention also lobbied successfully for the draft Constitution to contain
a clause stating that the results of the elections to the European Parliament must be taken into account in the nomination of the candidate for the Commission Presidency. This demand is now reflected in Article I-27 of the draft Constitution. At its Congress in Brussels in February 2004 before the European elections, the EPP also endorsed a resolution tabled by the EPP-ED Group insisting that the June 2004 European Council respected the spirit of this article. However, German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and French President Jacques Chirac ignored the demand presented by the EPP and proposed Belgium’s Liberal Party Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt as their favoured candidate for the top post in Brussels. Both the EPP and the Group mobilised substantial opposition to this ‘go-it-alone’ approach, and the Group took advantage of its links to Europe’s political leadership. Representatives of the Party and the Group had one-on-one conversations in which they were able to persuade leading figures in the EPP family to support the EPP’s solid case. As a result, at meetings held in advance of the Summit, a number of key politicians openly refused to support Guy Verhofstadt’s candidacy. The EPP Summit of Heads of Government and Party Leaders, customarily held the day before the European Council meeting, offered both the Party and the Group the best opportunity to influence the election process of the Commission President. The meeting in Meise, attended by ten heads of government from the EPP party family, was the appropriate forum in which to agree on a joint approach. At the Meise meeting, as the Chairman of the EPP-ED Group in the European Parliament, I emphasised our political family’s demand that, because of our success in the European elections, the Commission President must come from the EPP family. United behind this common goal, the delegates attending the EPP Summit in Meise agreed to nominate their own candidate for the post of Commission President. On June 17, 2004, just
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hours before a dinner for the EU heads of state and government at the EU Summit, several heads of government proposed the British Conservative Chris Patten as the next President of the European Commission. Verhofstadt’s nomination was promptly withdrawn due to lack of support and its inability to secure a majority. The quest for a joint candidate had to begin anew, this time in a process which involved the EPP. The search finally resulted in the nomination of José Manuel Durão Barroso, the then Prime Minister of Portugal, who is a member of the PSD and thus comes from our political family. His nomination was a clear victory for us and was the outcome of the interaction between the Party and the Group. Strengthening our political family’s ability to set the agenda
In view of these increasingly complex challenges, our key task must be to develop new ideas, approaches and solutions. In the globalised twenty-first century, we must expand our structures for opinion-forming and the development of ideas. The establishment of the European Ideas Network (EIN) in 2002 was an innovative step by the Group to utilise the opportunities afforded by modern communications and networking via the Internet and to promote new thinking beyond the narrower confines of the Party. The EIN is not designed to be a decision-making body. It acts as a platform for fresh ideas and provides a stimulus which can be developed through the party’s programme before feeding into the Group’s legislative initiatives at a later stage. Joint thematic conventions of the EPP and the EPP-ED Group
Forward thinking All the examples I have cited make one thing clear: as long as there is close cooperation between the Group and the Party—with the Party playing a coordinating role or, at its own initiative, liaising between the EPP’s member parties and the Group—our party family can carry out important and substantive European projects. We should continue to pursue this course since it was and remains the pathway to success. Together we should be playing an active role in the major reforms in Europe, in the constitutional process and in implementing the Lisbon strategy. Likewise, the Party and the Group should be mindful of their strong position when it comes to implementing our policies on individual issues. More than ever before, we must address the major political challenges facing the EU: the development of a forward-looking energy and resource policy, the issue of the EU’s borders, the EU’s internal and external security, environmental protection, promoting innovation and our continent’s demographic development.
One possible option for widening cooperation is to develop strategies on future key topics such as internal security, water shortage or energy policy through joint thematic conventions involving the EPP and the Group. It is particularly important to have good cooperation and coordination within our political family on topics which fall within the scope of the co-decision procedure, where Parliament shares legislative power equally with the Council. Joint study days or conventions could be held to offer an early opportunity for decision-makers in the Council, the Commission, the European and the national parliaments, as well as the parties, to form common EPP positions on specific issues and promote a joint position in the further legislative process. Preparing Council of Ministers meetings Once a Council of Ministers’ decision on a specific topic is pending, another option—in the interests of further developing the outcomes of the thematic conventions which I have just described above—would be to offer decisionmakers a forum for exchange and coordination
at a preparatory meeting in advance of the Council meetings. From the EPP’s side, this informal meeting could involve the relevant ministers belonging to the EPP, the spokespersons on the committees and the rapporteurs from the EPP-ED Group in the European Parliament, as well as—if they are allied with the EPP—the relevant Commissioners or cabinet representatives. The Party could thus form a link between the Council and Parliament in the practical legislative work.
European history for half a century. Our political family offers a credible, coherent and value-based policy programme. Through the interaction between the EPP and our Group in the European Parliament, we are enhancing our ability to successfully assert our political family’s ideas. Conscious of this strength and, above all, trusting in the validity of the values we represent, the EPP family will work resolutely in the years and decades ahead for the further integration of our continent and for the future of all Europeans.
Linking the EPP working groups to the European agenda It would therefore be entirely consistent for some of the EPP working groups to focus over the long term on issues which are suitable topics for thematic conventions. This new emphasis, combined with stronger input from experts nominated by the national parties, would result in the greater involvement of the working groups in the European agenda and, in turn, enable the EPP to bring its influence to bear more effectively on European decision-making.
Hans-Gert Pöttering is the Chairman of the EPPED Group in the European Parliament.
The right message Through our united programme and clear positions on the major issues in EU politics, we are already sending out the right signals to the Commission and the Council. I am convinced that through close and coordinated cooperation, the Party and the Group are well on track to further politicise the European decision-making process and thus make the EU more democratic and accountable. For thirty years, the EPP and the EPP-ED Group, which can look back on more than fifty years of successful parliamentary work, have led the way at every major stage of our continent’s unification. Through its resolute commitment to a more strongly integrated community based on democratic institutions, and its emphatic support for the enlargement of the Union, our political family has helped to develop and shape
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The Future of the Party of European Socialists By Poul Nyrup Rasmussen
The Party of European Socialists (PES) is the child of European integration. Each step from the European Economic Community to the European Union was accompanied by closer cooperation between socialist and social democratic parties. Initially this was a reaction to the development of new European institutions. Today the transnational organisation of European socialists and social democrats is a driver of European integration. It was the existence of European institutions that created the need for political cooperation. In a resolution adopted at the Congress of socialist and social democratic parties in Strasbourg in 1958, the member parties agreed that “the aim of this cooperation is to strengthen relations between the parties and to freely reach common agreement in particular on the problems arising from the existence of the European Communities”. Cooperation was never an aim in itself, however. All democratic parties in post-war Europe felt the need to cooperate peacefully to create a European civil society. For Europe’s socialists and social democrats in particular, Europe was always more than a mere economic project, more than just a market. For our party family, Europe was and still is a project for its citizens, an area which needs peace and prosperity for all. The simultaneous development of an economic and social union was the prime political objective of socialist cooperation from the start. The democratisation of the new European Community and a decisive vote for the European Parliament in European legislative
affairs have been the objectives of the ever closer cooperation between the members of the European socialist party family since 1957. That Europe is a project that requires patience is demonstrated by a resolution of the Party Congress in Paris in 1962. It says: European socialist parties “deem it specially urgent to introduce efficient economic planning on a Europe-wide scale; to introduce an incomes policy which will ensure a fair division of wealth; to substitute gradually the present coordinated currency policies of the Member States with a Community currency policy and a federal European currency organisation; [and] to establish a common market and a common commercial policy in the energy sector”. The idea of efficient economic planning seems outdated today. Modern Social Democrats have refined it to a demand for coordinated, simultaneous investments in infrastructures, networks and skills. However, Europe’s socialists and social democrats still call for markets which are guided by long-term political considerations and democratic decision-making. No one would seriously claim that the present coordination of the European currency or organisation of the energy markets meets our standards of efficiency and democracy. The idea within the democratic left that economic and social union have to develop side-by-side is as old as European integration. European socialists and social democrats worked together successfully to achieve this objective. On this long journey to a Social Europe, the European alliance of socialists and social democrats has been transformed. From a small secretariat that coordinated meetings of national parties, it developed into a transnational party in the wake of the Maastricht Treaty. There is no reason to
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believe that Europe’s integration, and thus the development of the PES, has reached its final destination. Europe’s democratic left wants a European Union which takes the concerns of its citizens as the starting point for its political strategy. This is the driving force for the future of Europe’s most important transnational force on the Left. Today the PES has developed into a relevant political organisation which can make a difference in Brussels and in the Member States. Since 2004 it has worked under a new legal framework for transnational parties that was created in 2003. It changed the political role of the PES. The party statute created in 2003 marks a new stage of European integration as well as political cooperation between Europe’s socialists. Clearly, Europe has reached a degree of integration that can no longer exist without democratic structures. The new era in the development of the Union is not marked by a date such as the adoption of the Maastricht Treaty. However, the new European party statute in 2003 was part of a process which created a draft European Constitution, the development of European armed forces, the introduction of the euro as currency for 12 of the then 15 Member States of the Union, and the enlargement of the Union beyond the former Iron Curtain. Common challenges answers in Europe
There are strong doubts about the future of the European Union after the referenda on the draft constitution in the spring of 2005. These doubts point to the fact that integration has to be accompanied by more democracy. Europe, however, is not in a crisis: Europe’s citizens do not oppose Europe as such; rather, the European Union faces a crisis in its politics. After the referenda in France and the Netherlands, it is clear that Europe needs a new direction. It needs support from its citizens for
policies which deal with their worries, hopes and concerns. After a bad year for Europe, the EU decided to go into a ‘period of reflection’. Europe’s socialists and social democrats are convinced that a European Union that acts on people’s concerns will always be welcomed by European citizens. All European political parties have the responsibility to listen to its citizens and to help the people of Europe regain confidence in the European Union. The current crisis is also the first big test for the European transnational parties. It is not a question of bringing the EU closer to its citizens. It is about taking the concerns of citizens as our point of departure for new, popular policies for the European Union around which people can unite. Europe’s socialists and social democrats are convinced that the people of Europe primarily call for more and better jobs, for a better environment, for more security in their daily lives, and for more peace and development in the world. This must be our point of departure. Neither the nation states nor the European Union will be able to deliver alone on these issues—the same holds for many others. Therefore, there is a real need for clear interaction between national parties in a transnational structure which must be focused on delivering effective policies for the people of Europe. Transnational political parties do not have to sell Europe to the citizens. However, the EU cannot develop without being connected to the concerns and hopes of its citizens. Political parties are a central element of democracy. Ideally, they link the competing opinions and interests of citizens and organisations to the European institutions. It is our responsibility as parties to offer political choices to the people. More and more European citizens have lost trust in politics. They do not believe that politicians are able to create social security, economic prosperity, and social and political stability under the conditions of globalisation. For too many people, reform means a race to the bottom.
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For Social Democrats, it is not only a question of responding to the effects of globalisation but also of managing globalisation for the benefit of everyone. Our societies need reform—and so does globalisation. Here European Social Democrats have a unique role. Our ability to combine a free market economy with a caring society in the coming years and decades will be watched carefully throughout the world. Workers from China to Brazil are hoping that the Social Europe will prove to be a dynamic model that brings them hope and eventually benefits. The European Union itself is in danger of being seen as part of the threat of globalisation—if it liberalises markets without bringing new social guarantees. We are convinced, however, that Europe has the potential to be a central part of the answer to the challenges of globalisation. One precondition is the closer integration of our political families. There is a growing danger that the integration process will be adversely affected when citizens are confronted with the results of European policies. Political parties need the coordination of answers, of strategies, of ideologies. What are the challenges Europe as a whole faces today? How can European Parties help to meet these challenges? Some of them are effects of fundamental global change: the ever closer integration of the global economy, which clearly calls for strong and democratic elements of global governance; the new threats to security such as terrorism and organised crime; environmental threats, and in particular, climate change; and the increase in poverty and in the unequal distribution of wealth worldwide. There are at the same time internal European challenges: in particular, the rapidly changing demographic structure of most European states; the effects of the structural change from industrial production to a knowledge based economy; the social, economic and political consequences of the political revolution of 1989/90; and sluggish economic growth.
European citizens can expect clear choices for Europe’s future In Europe there are many people on the Left who have resigned themselves to the effects of globalisation and demographic change. Nation states, it seems, can no longer protect their citizens against social dumping and the sellout of their social standards. National policies, however, can clearly make a difference. Sweden, for instance, has a much better record in fighting unemployment than Germany. Denmark’s labour market is more flexible than France’s. Globalisation should not be an excuse for a lack of political imagination and initiative. It is true that the ability of nation states to manage globalisation and demographic change is limited. There can be no doubt that the single European market offers a chance to maintain the European social model, while being competitive and dynamic at the same time. Europe is sufficiently strong to deal with the effects of new challenges like globalisation. Yet it has to act in a united and effective way. Europe has to deliver on jobs, growth and stability. It lacks, however, the means of achieving these objectives. Neither its current institutional structure nor the political objectives of the European Union favour coherent policies. Reform might prove difficult after the referenda in France and the Netherlands. The ‘No’ to the draft European constitution demonstrated unmistakably that without its citizens’ support, reform of the European Union is impossible. Here European political parties come into the picture. I am convinced that strong political parties at the European level are essential for overcoming the European Union’s current problem of legitimacy. Europe can only work if a sufficient number of citizens understand and support the way it works. This is not a question of information or communication. It is about democracy, about choice, about transparency and about familiar lines of political arguments. Political choice is essential for a democratic institution. This is what transnational European parties have to ensure: Europe’s citizens have to
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recognise that they are able to choose between political directions. They have to feel that their choice at the ballot box makes a difference in the European Union. This is what democracy is about. The PES wants to be a driving force behind a truly integrated and democratic European Union. That is the only path open for the PES as a truly European party. What are the choices? Europe now finds itself at a crossroads. Not least due to the work of European political parties and their national member parties, Europe’s citizens have a choice of two directions. One path lies on the left, the other on the right. Neo-liberals claim that Europe can no longer afford current levels of social protection and workers’ rights. Some forms of social protection—such as highly protective labour market regulations—are even said to hinder economic growth. Social Democrats, on the other hand, are united in our fundamental belief that the welfare states we built are not a burden but the basis of our prosperity and social cohesion. Strong competitiveness and strong social security are not contradictory but complementary. This is basic to Social Democratic principles. Social Democrats utterly reject the idea that our welfare states are the cause of Europe’s problems. Europe’s most competitive economies—Denmark, Sweden and Finland—offer some of the best social protection and workers rights. Of course Social Democrats know that reform is needed. Reform is necessary to meet the challenge of globalisation, liberalised trade and an ageing population. The real question is what kind of reform? This is the debate that is raging in most European countries and within the European Union. Social Democrats firmly reject neo-liberal reforms aimed at rolling back Europe’s welfare states. After twenty years of neo-liberal reforms, we see that this does not work. Our aim is a new social Europe: an active and inclusive society with full, quality employment. Reform is needed at all levels: at
the regional and national level, at the level of the European Union and at the global level. The goal is a strengthened and modernised ‘social Europe’ with individual national welfare states, different in organisation but united by common principles, that can meet the social and economic challenges of the twenty-first century. An important element of the social democratic answer to these challenges is the Lisbon strategy. It demonstrates how effective a united political force can be at European level. The Lisbon goal is to make Europe into the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion. Socialists were at the heart of bringing it into being. We were in government in 13 of the 15 Member States at the time. Where Liberals and Conservatives advocate downsizing the state, we demand coordinated investment in growth, in people and in their security. The key to the social democratic modernisation agenda in Europe will be to protect people rather than protect existing jobs. We must enable people to benefit from change through new forms of security and flexibility. Social Democrats must help people move from the jobs of the past to the jobs of the future. ‘Flexicurity’—a combination of flexibility and security developed in Denmark and Sweden— is a successful Social Democratic approach to modernising Europe’s economy and welfare states. Substantial investment has to accompany structural reforms to kick-start economic growth in Europe. Reforms alone will not create the jobs Europe urgently needs. Public and private money needs to be put into research and innovation, upgrading skills and qualifications, childcare, sustainable transport and renewable energy. Europe needs focused, intelligent investments in tomorrow’s jobs. For Europe to be more competitive, we must use everyone’s talents and skills—we cannot
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afford to exclude migrants from the workplace or make it too hard for many women to work. For this, European countries must become more social democratic, not less. Our societies must be more inclusive, giving better opportunities to new disadvantaged groups such as single parents and immigrants, in addition to traditionally excluded groups like the disabled.
appropriate benefits and fiscal incentives. By investing in quality childcare, European countries can create jobs, benefit children and enable their mothers to work. Putting real effort into a drive for greater equality between men and women is also essential. The gender pay gap is a significant obstacle to making Europe more competitive.
Social Democrats must make it easier for young people to make the transition from education to work. Education and training, career guidance and work experience schemes all need to be more relevant. In some countries, they need to be brought into existence. Companies need to collaborate with schools, colleges and other ‘social partners’ such as trade unions and youth organisations to bridge the gap between education and work.
Sacrificing strong welfare states in the name of competition is self-defeating. An example of this is child poverty, which is on the rise today in many European countries. Children who grow up poor are the most likely ones to fail at school. They run the greatest risk of growing up to fill the ranks of the low-skilled and unemployed. Europe can no longer afford to waste the potential of its citizens.
An ageing population need not only be a problem for the pension system or for health costs. Older people are remaining healthier longer, and many want to remain in work or take on new roles in the community. Although in some countries a lot of attention is focused right now on raising retirement ages, a more immediate problem is to raise the number of people in work aged 50 plus. Work has to be made more attractive to older workers, with more opportunities for skills to be updated and their experience better appreciated and valued. It is not acceptable that many European women must choose between pursuing a challenging career and having children. Public policies that enabled women to combine motherhood with work would tackle the shrinking workforce both now and in the future. Falling birth rates could be a thing of the past. Research shows that working women in countries with low fertility rates would like more children, and would have more children if they had more security: employment, improved parental leave, better childcare and equal pay. Getting more women into work means better education and training, but also more
In short, the common social democratic answer to our common European challenges is that the only economic growth that is right for Europe is one that creates more and better jobs, allows more investment in education, eliminates poverty and develops cleaner methods of production and consumption. The PES wants to achieve growth that enriches, not growth that impoverishes. For this, a strong and democratic Europe with strong political parties is a precondition. What will this party look like? Even though I advocate a strong European party, it will not necessarily look like national parties. The PES will be a party of parties for the foreseeable future. It will, however, have more and stronger European-wide elements like direct members—though with limited membership rights—working groups, mailing lists, web-based debating platforms and European campaigns. European parties like the PES will invest more in the implementation of media and communication strategies. Without adequate communications, a truly European debate about political choices will remain an illusion. While national parties will remain the key element in the media coverage of political events and
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processes, this has to be supplemented by panEuropean messages and activities. European parties have a small staff, compared to national member parties. At the same time, we face an enormous task. If we want to achieve our ambitious goals, the PES needs closer and more structured links between socialists and social democrats in the European Union at different levels: in the European Council, the Commission and the European Parliament. Europe will always have a multitude of political centres. Coordination between them requires strong ideological ties and efficient coordination. Among many other things, the PES needs intellectual support from think-tanks and political support from its member parties to achieve these objectives. The development of a strong European level of party politics does not necessarily imply a hierarchical structure. There is little or no need for a transfer of areas of competence from our member parties to the European level. Demand exists, however, for an intensified coordination of European questions and national political debates. A growing interdependence of political decisions at European and national levels means that national parties will seek consultation with each other as well as with members of their party family in the European institutions. Shared political responsibility for European legislation will be a major driving force for the development of transnational European parties. What are the challenges for democracy in Europe? We who are promoting European parties need to be visionaries because Europe’s democracy is developing without a master plan. It requires bold ideas and continuous political efforts to bring Europe’s people closer together. Institutional change, pressing policy questions and enlargement are challenges we have to find new answers to. In particular, the enlargement of May 2004 is proving to be a difficult task for Europe’s party families.
Whereas the integration of the new members into the European institutions went smoothly, party systems in most new democracies are still not entirely stabilised. The integration of the socialist and social democratic parties into the European party family is an important element in securing democracy in countries that lack a long democratic tradition. Democracy at the European level requires responsive and popular political leadership. This is what parties are for. Europe’s political class must not be formed in the offices of the European Commission, but in European election campaigns and political struggles for a strong and social Europe. In the long run, we cannot fight the disenchantment of European citizens without political choice and leadership. It is merely a vision at the moment, but at a possibly not-so-distant point in the future, Europe needs political leaders who are elected directly by the European electorate. Citizens, who are called to vote in European elections, rightly expect their representatives to have a say in governing Europe. This must involve more than just veto powers. A truly responsive political system in Europe requires elements of direct democracy as envisaged in the draft European constitution. Equally important are common European election campaigns and sooner or later a European government elected by the European Parliament. This seems impossible right now, and nobody can say precisely what this will look like in the end. European political parties, however, already play an active part in European democracy. They offer the unique chance to contribute to a democratic, peaceful and socially just future for Europe. The purpose of politicising the European debate is to create the same understanding of Europe that people already have of national politics and their national parliament. It is to create that ‘ah ha’ feeling which ordinary citizens will get when they realise Europe is just another room in the same house of democracy where their national political debate is situated. It is through
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being offered European political choices that the citizen will give Europe its political legitimacy. This is why the Party of European Socialists will have an increasingly important roleâ€Ś
Poul Nyrup Rasmussen is the President of the Party of European Socialists.
Volume 3 - Spring 2006
European Parties and Party Cooperation: A Personal View By Fredrik Reinfeldt
Every time period has its unique challenges. This is particularly true of European politics. At the same time, some challenges are timeless. These, like perspectives, are transported forward as we move forward. In politics, it is just these timeless challenges that remind us we should never take anything for granted, but instead constantly safeguard the values and principles we hope will characterise our times.
their basic values. In this respect, Conservatives and Christian Democrats have a long tradition to fall back on. With leading representatives such as Winston Churchill, Konrad Adenauer and Robert Schuman, we have been the political force that, more than any other, has seen the value of bringing European democracies and peoples closer together.
During the history of European cooperation, one thing has bound together the Conservative and Christian Democrat parties that make up the European Peopleâ€™s Party (EPP): faith in the idea that people have the right to shape their own lives. We often summarise this in terms of democracy, governance by law and market economy, and in terms of politics that serve citizens instead of placing obstacles in their way.
The initial driving force was the desire to secure peace following WWII and to facilitate reconstruction after the devastation of the war. But this mission would change with time. Western Europe met the challenges of the post-WWII period. Sights were then set on new tasks, such as paving the way for the internal market and establishing institutions to support continued and increased cooperation. At the same time, work promoting democracy continued. These efforts brought Greece, and then Spain and Portugal, into the community of Western European democracies during the 1980s.
When I became involved in politics as a student, it was relatively easy to see the conflicts around which political disputes revolved: West against East, democracy against dictatorship, market economy against planned economy. Such was the political landscape that developed after WWII and that for decades shaped the debate in Sweden as well as on the Continent. It was in this political context that the precursor to todayâ€™s EU emerged, not primarily as a political actor, but as a means of economic cooperationâ€”though the political component would grow with time.
In this process, what is today the EPP was a driving force. In fact, proponents of our values have played leading roles during the entire period extending from the Schuman Plan and establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1952 to the present. Our collaborative structures have long been in place and given us a leading role in the European political debate. This has occurred despite the fact it is only during recent years that some of our parties have been able to play a direct political role in various EU institutions.
Given European cooperation and other elements of cross-national collaboration, it became natural for political parties to look beyond their own national boundaries with a view to forming partnerships with parties that shared
With the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, our part of the world changed almost overnight. A long succession of new countries were to find themselves at home in Europe. Democracy, a
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market economy and governance by law were to replace former communist dictatorships. This posed, without a doubt, great challenges to both our established structures and our working methods. A new and open Europe was to replace a post-war Europe marked by imposed divisions.
into the EU of the ten new member countries, most of them from Eastern and Central Europe, marked the completion of the project to heal the wounds caused by the previous division of our continent. Europe is once again whole, although the expansion process must continue and we face a number of new challenges.
During this period, the EDU/EPP and its youth organisation the DEMYC/YEPP played a vital role. We helped our new neighbors in Central and Eastern Europe create functioning party structures. We established cooperation with them and supported them at every step on their way to joining our existing party collaboration.
There is no doubt that the EPP has derived new energy from the expansion. Backed by 37% of the voters, we are the largest political family in the European Parliament. Moreover, of the Parliamentâ€™s seven party groups, we are the only one with members from all 25 EU member countries. Naturally, this is significant for our political legitimacy and means we have strength as well as representative breadth that other groups lack. We may forget it at times, but, given this foundation, what we can achieve jointly, within the framework of the EPP, is and will remain greater than what we can achieve individually on the European political scene.
For my part, I was able to follow these efforts close up. During much of the 1990s, I was entrusted with managing these endeavours, first in the DEMYC and then in the YEPP. We placed great importance on creating bonds of friendship with kindred parties in Eastern Europe. Looking back on this period, I believe that the innumerable study visits and seminars we arranged were crucial, not only as support for the development of ideas and political party construction, but also for forming a community of values between countries once divided into West and East. Efforts to create bonds of friendship with our new sister parties were partly made on a national basis, between two or three parties and countries. Few would deny, however, the great value inherent in our well-established structures for broader cross-national party cooperation within the EDU and the DEMYC, which enabled us to bring together our experience, energy and resources in common projects. We had not only the strong ties that existed between us, but also previously established contacts in the new democracies. Accordingly, the results of our efforts were greater than they otherwise would have been. With the eastward expansion of the EU in 2004, much of the work for which we had together laid the foundation was finished. The entry
Conservative and Christian Democrat forces in Europe can look back on a long period of cooperation. The fact that we are strong today also reflects our past ability to come to the front lines of the political debate with well-grounded analyses and solutions to the social problems of the day. However, many factors that have sustained our political power are now part of our history rather than our present and future. In our work, we have often used history as an argument. We have emphasised the significance of European cooperation, which brings European peoples and countries closer together. We have stressed the importance of uniting Europe politically and economically to preclude future wars on a continent that has been so afflicted by strife. We see today that this goal has largely been realised. With the completion of EU expansion, West and East have been joined together. In Sweden, just as in the rest of Europe, the question of how EU membership should be utilised in the future is emerging with increasing clarity. For us,
the parties forming the EPP, this means it is time to take the next step in the development of our outlook on Europe. History may be important, but to maintain our legitimacy, we, as a political force, must take on the new challenges facing Europe. Emerging today is a new generation that has not been marked by war and cannot accept the idea of Europe remaining the same. People demand to know what we, in our own countries and within the framework of European cooperation, can do to make their everyday lives easier. They want to believe that cooperation has a purpose: not merely a historical purpose, but one for the future. This is what our mutual challenge for the future must be about. Working together within the framework of European cooperation, we have derived much of our legitimacy from the conflict between freedom and subjugation, democracy and dictatorship. With the fall of the Iron Curtain and the end of the Cold War, this conflict is perceived as less and less relevant to people’s lives. This is understandable. Although our region still contains countries that are waiting for their freedom as well as those that have just begun their long journey toward a stable democracy, the majority of people in Europe feel that other issues, which are more important to them, are missing from the debate. I began by establishing that every time period has its unique challenges, but that some challenges are timeless. Our timeless challenge—to secure democracy and freedom in Europe—continues, now focused on further expansion, establishing stability in the Balkans, and supporting the struggle for liberty in Belarus and other countries. Another of our common responsibilities is to play a security policy role that supports peace and freedom in the world outside Europe. At the same time, as I pointed out, every period has its own challenges. If we look around at our own part of the world today, it is quite clear what the greatest of these challenges are.
In several EU countries, weak economic growth due to over-regulated economies prevails. Moreover, on the heels of globalisation, we are experiencing increasing pressure from the surrounding world. Countries such as India, China and, for that matter, the US are challenging major sectors of European trade and industry. In the wake of this, we see established industries cutting back or moving their production, resulting in lost job opportunities. Owing to these developments, a new era of ever stronger subjugation has dawned in Europe. This is the subjugation of social exclusion, which results from millions of people in our countries finding themselves outside the labor market. They have been deprived of the opportunity to earn their own wage and of the independence inherent in being able to support themselves. Every person living in social exclusion and unemployment today is a reminder of one of our times’ greatest human and social tragedies. Work is closely associated with values such as self-confidence and human dignity. These values are undermined when people are excluded. I do not believe that people who have the privilege of holding a job can fully understand this feeling of exclusion—the feeling of having worked years or perhaps a lifetime, toiling so as not to be a burden to others, only to experience how everything is taken away. I also believe it is difficult for many of us to understand how demeaned many people in this situation feel—how unemployment, from day one, works as a destructive force, depleting people’s energy and making it harder and harder for them to pull themselves up again. With time comes the risk that this will lead to alienation, not only from the labor market, but also from social life, family and friends. Unfortunately, this is a reality for many people, and we know that their everyday experience may soon be shared by many others. This will have far-reaching consequences for every EU country and for Europe as a whole. The fact
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that people are being excluded from the labor market to the extent we see now will not only affect our combined economies, but also create a breeding ground for alienation and fear of the world around us. Such a situation, in turn, fuels political extremism. Someone once wisely said that the question of being for or against globalisation is misconceived. It is not a matter of being for or against. It is not possible to choose between the two. Globalisation is here to stay: There is no turning back. The questions we must ask ourselves, therefore, are how we should take advantage of globalisation’s opportunities and how we should tackle the challenges inherent in increasingly tough international competition. It is clear that this is one of the greatest challenges of our times, but it is equally clear that the majority of Europe’s political leaders have not been able to confront this problem. Instead of taking forceful measures to ensure more jobs, make work pay, encourage businesses to stay in Europe and encourage the growth of new businesses, we see that much of the European political debate revolves around matters of form. We see proud declarations about growth and jobs, but when it is time to put them into action, very little gets done. Regarding issues such as free trade, research and entrepreneurship—in which the EU could play an important part—proposals are often discussed endlessly. Cooperation is used as a scapegoat for the failures of national policy. In light of this, I find it understandable that many citizens are suspicious of European cooperation and of the political forces that see the EU as an arena for tackling common challenges. Many people feel that the European debate has very little to do with them and their problems. At this point, I wish to admit that the EU cannot solve the issue of jobs and globalisation for us. We sometimes wish it could, as though the lack of cooperation among Europeans were the only
cause of our national problems and cooperation could solve them. Naturally, this is not the case. The responsibility for jobs falls primarily on us as citizens of particular nations: it is something we must deal with at the national level. We may get a boost if the EU does the right things, but our success is ultimately dependent on the kinds of reforms we put through in our own countries. At the same time, inherent in this national challenge is a great need for cross-national cooperation. We have a great deal to learn from each other about how we should tackle the challenges of globalisation. Using our joint strength is also essential if we are to win support for the right political focus in addressing globalisation at the European level. This is a question of paving the way for reforms in the areas of jobs, enterprise, free trade, research and development. Here the cooperation we have within the EPP will play an important role if we use our joint strength in the right way. We who form the EPP constitute a fairly diverse group of parties. We find the entire varied spectrum of conservative, Christian Democrat and middle-to right-wing politics that marks the focal point of the non-Socialist parties in Europe. We come from different cultures, with our separate national histories and traditions that cannot always meet without causing friction. And we certainly all feel, at times, that our positions on current political issues are not in complete agreement. Yet there are also things that unite us. We share values in our views on freedom, people and politics. Moreover, history has shown us that, together, we are a force to be reckoned with when it comes to improving conditions for Europe and for the people who live here. We stand united in our diversity: In varietate concordia, to borrow the motto of the European Union, to which we all belong. Today the European Union brings together over 460 million people from 25 countries. This is the
result of the voluntary economic and political integration of nation-states. We may all have opinions about aspects of this cooperation, but none of us can deny the fact that the EU has shouldered the work for peace, stability and welfare on our continent.
Fredrik Reinfeldt is the Chairman of the Moderate Party of Sweden.
At the same time, the EU is in many ways a continual construction site. Someone once said, regarding cooperation, that it is the journey that is important, rather than some distant final station, far in the future. I believe there is much to this notion. Europe and the EU will develop along the path we choose. This construction site is also multifaceted. There are many tools and many building blocks. Not all of them are usable, and some are downright hard to put together. Yet this is one of the strengths of cooperation. In a democratic EU, there must be different political wills that are allowed to move in different directions. At the same time, there is great strength in seeking cooperation with others in order to make a political impact. We must never take European integration for granted. We should be more worried about a weak Europe than a strong one. It was this insight that once brought European Conservative and Christian Democrat parties together and laid the foundation for today’s EPP. It was also this insight that caused our values to become a force to be reckoned with during the post-WWII decades, during the collapse of communism and during the ongoing reunification of Europe. We expect new challenges alongside our old ones—challenges posed by globalisation and the subjugation caused by social exclusion. If we want our ideas to make an impact today as well, it is up to us. And if making an impact is our intent, we would be wise to cooperate. “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent.” Likewise, no party is an island.
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Transnational Parties in Regional Cooperation: The Impact of the EPP on Central and South-East Europe By Ivo Sanader The European People’s Party (EPP) has played a pivotal role in bringing Central and SouthEast European politics into the European integration process. After the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, the new democracies that developed gained strength and stability through their cooperation with the European Union’s transnational parties. The EPP was active from the beginning of this process, and was the party most successful in recognizing the new needs of Eastern Europeans as they liberated themselves from dictatorship, building free societies and striving for participation in the unification of our continent. In the aftermath of the Second World War, the Christian Democrat and centre-right people’s parties of various Western European countries used the liberty gained, not only to help rebuild their national democratic systems, but also to lay the foundations for the integration of the whole European continent. These political forces gathered strength at the European level by founding a pan-European party to embrace the project of European unification while advancing Christian Democrat and centre-right values. In this sense, the organisations that preceded the EPP became the driving force behind the Western European integration process. With the end of the Cold War, these organisations embraced their responsibility for the whole continent with remarkable conviction and credibility, as did the EPP itself at a later stage. As the largest Croatian political party, the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) recognised the EPP as its natural partner on the European scale. Croatian Christian Democracy has its place in a unifying Europe, a fact that is well
illustrated by the HDZ’s associated membership of the EPP. The HDZ belongs to the international family of centre-right people’s parties that subscribe to Christian Democratic values and work for the cherished idea of a European continent united and free. Following four years in opposition, the HDZ has been leading the Croatian government since 2003. Within the first half of the new government’s mandate, Croatia achieved candidate status for EU membership, and since autumn 2005, the country has been negotiating EU accession. The successes of the HDZ government’s reform policy up to this point make us optimistic that Croatia will be ready to participate in the next elections to the European Parliament, which will be held in 2009. There are basically three key areas of EPP impact on developments in Central and SouthEast Europe in the aftermath of the break-up of the earlier ideological and geopolitical structure in this part of Europe. The first part of this article explains how European centre-right parties have similar values today, and how they have shared many similar historical experiences throughout the last century. This has led to shared political aims for today and for the future. Their successful cooperation in the EPP is a logical corollary of these circumstances. The second part shows how cooperation between the EPP and HDZ has played a relevant role in the modernisation of the political scene in Croatia, and how the EPP and its member parties, including the HDZ, have contributed to the stabilisation of South-East Europe. The third part deals with how the EPP and its member parties have been instrumental in explaining Croatia and the whole of South-East Europe to the EU institutions, as well as to EU Member States, and how this endeavour has contributed to the opening of EU accession negotiations
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with Croatia and given the whole of SouthEast Europe a clear EU prospect. Finally, the concluding remark gives a few suggestions on what the EPP could do in order to remain a driving force in Europe’s future development. Shared values as the basis for transnational cooperation In the first half of the twentieth century, European centre-right and Christian Democrat political forces had comparable developments. For the political platform of Central European Christian Democrats, the Papal encyclical Rerum Novarum played a particularly relevant role. This letter of recommendations on how to proceed in building a just society under the conditions of market economy and the accompanying social challenges remains, together with similar protestant teachings, a building block of Christian Democracy up to the present time. In the case of Croatian society between the two World Wars, Christian Democrat thought and ideas, stemming from societal visions typical of people’s parties in Central Europe, were voiced by the Croatian People’s and Peasant Party, which at that time dominated Croatia’s political scene. The party leader, Stjepan Radić, used to emphasise messages from the Papal encyclical Rerum Novarum in public speeches. His party was the strongest Croatian party between 1918 and 1941, since it opposed the hegemonic policies of the Belgrade Court in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later called the Kingdom of Yugoslavia), to which Croatia belonged between the World Wars. Many elements of Radić’s ideological platform, along with elements of the political heritage of Ante Starčević and the Croatian Antifascist Movement, inspired the founders of the HDZ at the end of the 1980s. Thus, after 50 years of interruption through World War Two and Communist dictatorship, centre-right political ideas regained a place of influence in Croatian politics. By combining the rights for national self-
determination and individual freedom with the rights of national minorities, the principles of a social market economy and other Christian Democrat values, and by having a decisive policy for the integration of Croatia and South-East Europe into the EU, the HDZ enjoyed majority support among Croatian voters throughout the main period of transition, the homeland war, the times of international recognition and the profiling of Croatia. The individual histories of centre-right parties in Europe may encompass many national or party peculiarities, but there still remain crucial parallels. These parallels are based on similar experiences of authoritarian rule and totalitarianism in the twentieth century. The dramatic and disastrous experience with national-socialism, fascism and—in Eastern Europe—communism had devastating consequences for all Europeans, and helped to form strong convictions among European centre-right politicians about the ideas and values on which European societies should be built in the future. Another common characteristic is the idea of developing a people’s party that is deeply rooted in the societal fabric and open to all social groups, and that promotes ideas of individual liberty and equality. Everywhere in Europe conservatives and Christian Democrats have become people’s parties relevant in their societies. As strongholds against fascism and communism, but always ready for dialogue and cooperation within the democratic spectrum, they have developed into governing parties, which have often shaped Western European democracies and the European integration process. With the regained liberty of the 1990s, centreright and Christian Democrat parties, from the Baltic to the Adriatic, took on roles as important as those that had been played by their sister parties in the West in the years of the Cold War. The majority of these parties in the new democracies underwent, or are still undergoing, a transformation process from a social or national movement to a modern centre-right party.
Therefore, the establishment of a professional party administration and a clear ideological profile comparable to Western sister parties is still, in many cases, an ongoing process. It is in facing precisely these challenges that the EPP, along with its member parties from the West and their think-tanks, will continue to play an important role. This is particularly the case for some South-East European countries.
organizing the necessary transfer of knowledge. Conferences and seminars organised by the EPP and its member parties helped the HDZ to renew itself and re-emphasise its European orientation. Furthermore, when it came to political campaigning, many new impulses came through the EPP’s individual member parties. All this was conducive to the HDZ victory in the 2003 parliamentary elections.
The cooperation with the EPP and individual Western European sister parties proved to be indispensable for the successful development of modern centre-right parties in the whole of Eastern Europe in the 1990s. From the new beginning of centre-right and Christian Democrat politics in Eastern Europe, the shared fundamental values were already sufficiently present for a mutual recognition to take place between the EPP and its member parties on the one side and the Eastern European centre-right on the other. The EPP enlargement to the East and successful pan-European cooperation was simply the next logical step.
Immediately after the election success, the HDZ proved itself to be a true member of the EPP family, sharing the values and principles of this European people’s party. For example, in forming the government coalition, the HDZ immediately addressed one of the central questions for the development of Croatian society, namely the successful integration of national minorities. All representatives of national minorities, most importantly the representatives of the Serbian minority, were integrated into this government coalition. In the same spirit of reconciliation, just a few days after taking up my duties in government, I participated as the new Prime Minister in the Christmas celebrations of the Serbian Orthodox community in Zagreb and expressed my Christmas wishes in the Serbian language to the assembled believers. This gesture was a true eye-opener for a postwar society, demonstrating, as it did, the new mindset in Croatia and symbolizing the policy that the HDZ and the new government were standing for.
The role of EPP–HDZ cooperation for progress in South-East Europe The HDZ used the four years in opposition from January 2000 to November 2003 to undertake an internal party reform—one might even say it reinvented itself—with the aim of bringing the party in line with EPP standards and preparing it to take over Government responsibility once again. Now it was ready to give a leading impetus to a new phase in the country’s development that would be realised through Croatia’s integration into the EU. This re-orientation led to increased cooperation with EPP member parties such as the German CDU and CSU, the Austrian ÖVP, the French UMP, the Hungarian Fidesz, the Slovakian SDKU, the Italian Forza Italia and the Swedish Moderates. And it facilitated the support of their rank and file members in the party modernisation process. The EPP functioned as an excellent transnational party network, which proved capable of
In line with the European vision shared by the EPP under its President Wilfried Martens and the HDZ, the Croatian government also embarked on a two-track path in its political strategy. It is forging speedy EU accession through all-encompassing internal reforms and EU harmonisation, while establishing close contacts with Brussels and all EU capitals. At the same time, it is enhancing regional cooperation in South-East Europe and acting as an EU bridge towards South-East Europe. Croatia’s foreign policy activities have provided another example where the EPP, as a transnational European party, has played a very useful role. Through
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the existing EPP structures, the HDZ has had the opportunity to successfully present the Croatian government’s EU ambitions to Brussels and to the EU Member States. The EPP’s network has also played—and still does play—a relevant role in Croatia’s cooperation with its South-East European neighbours, since many countries in South-East Europe have governing parties which are already associated with the EPP. Beside traditional bilateral communications, the EPP framework and principles have enhanced cooperation with the SDA, the HDZ-BiH and the PDP of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and with the DSS and the G17+ of Serbia. In demonstrating regional cooperation, I was the first Croatian Prime Minister to officially visit the Serbian capital of Belgrade. This historic event took place at the end of 2004. I had fruitful talks with Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica: we signed a number of agreements and decided to strengthen our economic cooperation. It was on this occasion that we adopted our “good neighbourly partnership on a European vision” as a long-term platform for relations between our two countries. In the meantime, the Serbian Prime Minister has also visited Zagreb. The motive for these activities is our common conviction that a good relationship between Croatia and Serbia is central for stability and the EU prospect for South-East Europe as a whole. Therefore, it is very encouraging that this regional process is being supported and assisted by EPP sister parties. Traditional good relations with the Slovenian EPP member SDS under Prime Minister Janez Janša are also conducive to deepening the long-lasting Croatian-Slovenian friendship and joint endeavours as European partners. The modern and EU-oriented policy that the HDZ has pursued in recent years has resulted not only in Croatia becoming today’s role-model for other South-East European countries on the way to the EU, but also in the HDZ becoming
the EPP’s role model for many centre-right people’s parties in South-East Europe. How the HDZ tackled its alignment with the EPP and how it subsequently forged reform politics for the benefit of all Croatian citizens has led many South-East European centre-right parties to think, “if the HDZ can do it, why can’t we?” Furthermore, the HDZ’s success and its close cooperation with the EPP has made the EPP a known and respected factor in both Croatian politics and the national politics of our neighbouring countries. A corollary is that other parties are now asking for a rapprochement with the EPP. All this shows how much the European idea has gathered strength in recent years and how much the EPP-HDZ cooperation has contributed to stability and progress in South-East Europe. How the EPP explained Croatia and SouthEast Europe to the EU Not only was the EPP instrumental in promoting the European vision and European standards among many South-East European parties, but the transnational character of the EPP made it a much needed interpreter of Croatia and the whole of South-East Europe to EU institutions and EU Member States. This truly turned out to be a process which operated both ways and to our mutual benefit. Many EU politicians were aware that one of the greatest challenges the European continent faced at the beginning of this century was the question of stabilizing South-East Europe. However, many did not understand the tremendous potential for meeting this stability challenge that lay in Croatia’s progress towards EU accession. Croatia’s successful reforms, and the fact that the EU was ready to recognise them by granting the prospect of EU accession (at the moment when the country has fulfilled the accession criteria), gave all the other reform forces in South-East Europe the incentive to make progress and to reason with their citizens that devoted reform politics would pay off. Although the above is rather obvious, it was
necessary to make it understood among decision makers in the EU and its Member States. The EPP played a central role in explaining at all EU levels that Croatia is working as an agent of stability in South-East Europe—which furthers the EU’s own interests—and that it therefore deserves the Union’s support. To get this message across, the EPP opened all its channels within the EU, proving itself once again to be an influential transnational party. On the level of the European Parliament, meetings with the EPP-ED group were successfully organised, as were meetings with relevant representatives from other parliamentary groups and with the European Parliament Foreign Affaires Committee. As a consequence, Croatian representatives were able to explain the country’s EU approach and its effect on the region. The EPP leadership, as well as reputable EPP member parties such as the CDU and the CSU of Germany, the ÖVP of Austria, the SDKU of Slovakia, Nea Democratia of Greece, the SDS of Slovenia, the CSV of Luxemburg, Fidesz of Hungary, the ODS of the Czech Republic, etc., used their influence to enlighten their friends and partners in the EU with regard to the state of affairs in South-East Europe. On the level of the Committee of the Regions, the EPP also undertook many activities which broadened the knowledge of Croatia and SouthEast Europe among EU Member States. In this context the conference which the EPP and the Committee of the Regions organised in Dubrovnik in June 2005 also contributed significantly to the understanding of how compatible Croatia and traditional EU members are. Furthermore, the EPP Statutory Summits— which regularly take place before the European Council meetings and bring together all the EPP party presidents and EPP heads of governments from various European countries—played an extraordinarily relevant role. As the president of the HDZ and Prime Minister of Croatia, I
had many opportunities to participate in these Statutory Summits and to gain the support of EPP Prime Ministers for relevant European Council decisions, which had to be taken with regard to the EU perspective on Croatia and South-East Europe. In this context it is important to mention that in September 2005, on the initiative of EPP President Wilfried Martens, a letter from nine EU Prime Ministers was sent to British Prime Minister and President of the European Council Tony Blair asking for the opening of accession negotiations with Croatia. Now that Croatia is successfully negotiating EU accession, and given that each SouthEast European country—once it fulfils the Copenhagen and other criteria—has a clear prospect of joining the EU, we can draw the conclusion that the work done by the EPP has been of historic importance for the overall positioning of Croatia in the EU perspective and for keeping South-East Europe on the same track. These EPP activities are representative of a multitude of undertakings through which the EPP has shown on various transnational levels that it works as a truly European party, bringing together the different parts of Europe, and always having in mind the interests of the continent it is working for. Addressing the great questions of contemporary Europe with self-confidence Now that liberty, democracy and national selfdetermination have been achieved in nearly all Central and South-East European countries, the focus is on seizing the historic chance for all Europeans to enjoy freedom and to jointly build a common European future. There is no doubt that the idea or the dream of a unified Europe, a Europe of freedom, peace, tolerance and human solidarity, was greatly inspired by centre-right and Christian Democrat
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Transnational Parties in Regional Cooperation: The Impact of the EPP on Central and South-East Europe
thinking. Many of the politicians and academics that promoted and started the European integration process in the 1950s belonged to this strain of political thought. French Foreign Minister Robert Schumann, German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and Italian Prime Minister Alcide de Gasperi were devoted Christian Democrats, while the legendary British Prime Minister Winston Churchill came from the British conservative tradition. These men were all driven by the idea that in the aftermath of the devastating Second World War, faced with the deep division of the continent, everything possible must be done to enable Europe to become a continent united and free. Furthermore, throughout the development of the European project in later decades, centre-right politicians continued to make crucial contributions. Against the backdrop of these historic contributions, both the European centre-right and European Christian Democrats have every right to be self-confident. It is therefore essential to keep in focus the historic contribution this political force has made to the great questions of contemporary Europe. Only if the EPP, as a transnational party, together with its member parties, continues to address those questions and give convincing answers to them will this political approach have a future. Post-modernity, which has been dominating Western European societies for some time and, more recently, Eastern European societies too, is characterised by a disturbing loss of fundamental values. It is precisely because of the relativity and insecurity which are increasingly typical of our post-modern societies that a rediscovery of some fundamental Christian values would be helpful. There is a majority in European societies, beyond the traditional division between political right and left, who feel that our societies are changing fundamentally, that too much emphasis is being placed on the individual, and that a dangerous consumerist, profit-minded culture is coming to dominate. Those who are able to give a convincing answer to this fundamental question that our Western lifestyle poses will be
at the forefront of tomorrow’s progress. The EPP and its member parties need to be alongside those who are able to explain to our citizens in a convincing way that the increasing insecurity and alienation which many feel while living the Western lifestyle can be successfully countered with fundamental values that were previously abandoned too easily. A policy which combines societal progress with a number of fundamental values coming from our Christian ethical heritage can give useful answers to the challenges of our contemporary lifestyle. I believe that a political platform which is derived from this ethical heritage and which is ready to apply the principle of subsidiarity will win over majorities in Europe. Such a policy will be recognised as modern and progressive, because it addresses the general loss of values and the interconnected need for orientation which is being felt by our citizens today. Finally, the misunderstandings between the Western world and the world of Islam might also be addressed through a dialogue which could be based on the ethical similarities between our two civilisations. The ethical teachings stemming from the Judeo-Christian heritage and from the Islamic heritage are rather similar, and therefore offer the chance of a value-based rapprochement and the opportunity to learn about each other step by step. Since the EPP is also closely connected with parties derived from an Islamic background such as the Bosnian SDA and the Turkish AKP, there are great opportunities for the EPP to make an original contribution to the very present need for dialogue between the Western world and the world of Islam. As human beings, we cannot always understand, foresee or determine the complete picture of our world. But we can make an effort to apply our system of values with a view to ‘doing the right thing’ in each particular case. This means being active in the interest of our fellow human beings. If the European People’s Party succeeds in serving fundamental human and community
values, then the EPP will be of great importance for the future of Europe.
Ivo Sanader is Prime Minister of Croatia.
Volume 3 - Spring 2006
European Party Statute: Filling the Half-full Glass? By Justus Schönlau
Political parties are— according to most definitions of advanced systems of representation—an essential part of the institutional fabric that allows the democratic channelling of individual opinions in order to arrive at collective decisions. In this respect, they fulfil a two-way function of mediation between the citizens and the institutions of government. This is because political parties collect, assemble and channel input from the bottom up, while at the same time ensuring the communication and legitimisation of decisions from the top down. Within the European Union, the interest in political parties as actors in, and instruments of, the integration process has increased with the growing realisation that the Union is a political system in the making. Like other elements of the new polity which are rooted in the national systems and traditions, the relatively recent phenomenon of European political parties is firmly based on the national example, though adapted to the special circumstances of the EU. In recent years, and more particularly since the Treaty on European Union of 1991, the evolution of the EU into a political (and economic) entity has accelerated. It is significant that the Maastricht Treaty itself contained the first recognition of the importance of the role political parties could and should play in democratic integration, but at the same time, the Maastricht ratification crisis provided the first tangible expression of what came to be known as the EU’s ‘democratic deficit’.1 Nevertheless, it is important to note that the debate on how to make political parties at 1
European level a real and active element of a European democracy has been going on since the foundation of the European Communities, which included from the outset an element of nascent representative democracy in the form of an ‘Assembly’ of delegated national members of parliament. With the introduction of direct elections to the European Parliament in 1979, the evolution of political parties beyond the national arena clearly received a new impetus. This led to the emergence of various transnational party federations in the 1980s,2 but it was not until the Maastricht Treaty in 1991 that the role of political parties was finally recognised at the constitutional level of the new polity. Yet even after this important step, parties, and in particular those at the European level, have so far played a less prominent role than one could have expected in the debate on how to legitimise the European Union and its actions politically. A lot of the debate has focussed on issues of output legitimacy, and more recently on questions of identity in the European context. The analysis of input legitimacy in terms of democratic process has looked in particular at the role of the European Parliament (and to some extent at issues of democratic accountability of governmental decisions in the Council) vis-à-vis national Parliaments, but less at the contribution of political parties either as bodies of influence on decision-making or as channels for feeding back political decisions to the citizens. This reflects the so-far rather weak institutional basis of political parties at the European level. In particular, it took a long time from the creation of a legal basis for parties in the Maastricht Treaty to the carrying out—with the regulation on the financing of European political parties from
The article on European political parties was introduced at Maastricht as Article 138a, which became Article 191 with the Amsterdam Treaty. T. Jansen, Zur Entwicklung eines europäischen Parteiensystems, in: Integration 3 (1995), pp. 157–65.
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European Party Statute: Filling the Half-full Glass?
the EU budget in 2004—of the first concrete steps towards establishing party structures which can fulfil a distinct role at Union level. Even now, however, one key problem remains the fact that the existing European parties still have no sound legal foundation in the shape of a European party statute appropriate to their European vocation. The present article attempts to critically assess the current situation with regard to the legal and political position of the Europarties. After briefly retracing the developments since the Maastricht debate on an article dealing with European parties, it will focus in particular on the 2004 regulation on financing and how this has influenced the political role of the European parties since it came into force two years ago. The article will then sketch out some of the issues under debate at the moment and try to give some indications of where the current phase of reflection might offer new openings for the development of an EU-level party system. It concludes by stressing that political parties will have to be one of the key ingredients if the European Union hopes to improve its democratic credibility—something which can only happen through an increased awareness at national level of the significance of the EU’s political processes and the opportunities that they offer. The institutional, historical and legal background After the introduction of a general article on European political parties in the Maastricht Treaty, the main question remained how this recognition of the role of political parties was to be made effective. Following pressure from the European Parliament3 and a lively debate in the Convention on the Charter of Fundamental Rights on the role of political parties4, the Intergovernmental Conference of Nice introduced an important addition to the party article, giving
a clear mandate to the European Commission to make a proposal for the necessary regulations to govern political parties at European level, in particular to regulate their financing. In response, the European Commission proposed a regulation for the “statute and financing of political parties at European level”, on the basis of article 308, without even waiting for the Treaty of Nice to come into effect. The attempt failed, however, because of disagreement among the Member States on the necessity and desirability of political parties beyond the nation state, and because of the requirement for unanimity under the rules of the chosen legal basis. Despite the efforts of the Belgian presidency in the second half of 2001, no common position was agreed in the Council, so the Commission proposal fell through. The European Parliament continued to call for a clear legal basis for the work of European political parties and their financing—especially since the European Court of Auditors had criticised the practice by which the political parties at EU level were cross-financed by their respective party groups in the Parliament itself.5 This was the only realistic way of organising the political work of the parties at European level in the absence of direct subsidies for their operation and of a firm legal basis for their status as multinational non-profit organisations that could raise funds from membership fees or sponsorship. Yet the matter had come increasingly under public scrutiny, and the parties concerned agreed that it was urgently necessary to clean up their image and achieve a solution that was legally and politically ‘sound’. The proposal for a statute for European political parties therefore aimed at solving two problems at once: to give political parties which operate within more than one national jurisdiction an independent legal personality with some special features to take account of the political nature of their work, and to ensure a transparent and
European Parliament report on the constitutional role of European Political Parties, rapporteur D. Tsatsos, A4-0342/96. See J. Schönlau, Drafting the EU Charter: Rights, Legitimacy and Process (Palgrave-Macmillan, Basingstoke, 2005) pp. 95-6. Special Report of the European Court of Auditors No. 13/2000 (OJ of the EU, C181, 28.06.2000).
3 4 5
efficient system for their financing from the EU budget. The difficulties in reaching agreement between the Member States in the 2001 negotiations did show, however, that the different national traditions in organising and framing political parties meant that several Member States were opposed to the idea of creating a special ‘European’ status for political parties. While there was general agreement on the need to find a solution for the question of financing, views widely differed over some substantial issues like the admissibility of donations, the best system to ensure transparency of financing and, most fundamentally, the criteria used to define a ‘European’ political party. With regard to the first aspect (the legal status/ personality), it is interesting to note that resistance was based on two main arguments. Firstly, some Member States were wary of setting a precedent for other organisations that had an interest in attaining a legal position beyond the national jurisdictions. Secondly, the legal consequences for the respective national systems were judged to be unforeseeable. In its more ‘orthodox’ form, this resistance almost certainly has its roots in a general distrust of an excessively ‘federal’ development of the Union into a more and more ‘state-like’ polity, in which political parties—following the spirit and the letter of the Maastricht Treaty formula—“contribute to forming a European awareness”. This, for many, was bound to be in conflict or competition with any national awareness or loyalty. Similarly, but with a different emphasis, other members of the Council were worried about the practical difficulties of creating a transnational status for European political parties and pointed to the twenty-year struggle to agree on a European statute for public limited companies. The objections on political grounds against a European legal personality for political parties still
persisted when, in early 2003, the Commission tabled a new proposal which eventually led to the adoption of the “statute on the financing of political parties at European level”. The 2004 regulation on party financing This new attempt was made under considerably changed circumstances: with the coming into effect of the Treaty of Nice on 1 February 2003, the parameters for legislative action on the party issue had changed. The formula of Article 191 gave the European Commission a specific task to draft legislation to provide for the “statute and ways of financing” of European political parties, to be jointly decided by Parliament and Council with qualified majority voting in the Council. Thus there was a new legal basis and a new window for opportunity, now that no single Member State could veto the decision. Consequently, the Commission acted very quickly, producing a draft statute for parties in February 2003.6 The declared aim of this move was to have legislation in place in time for the European elections of 2004. It was also made in response to the admonition from the Court of Auditors to stop the cross-financing of political parties from other parts of the EU budget by then at the latest. Moreover, the estimation was that the Greek presidency (first half of 2003) had a much greater chance of achieving progress on the issue than the following Italian and Irish presidencies would have, since the latter had already shown themselves to be more sceptical towards a European Party statute in 2001. Under these circumstances, the Commission and the Parliament agreed to act speedily. Consultations with the European Council confirmed that the only chance of getting legislation before the June 2004 elections was to adopt the statute at the first reading, because a second and possible third reading would
COM (2003) 077 2003/0039 (COD).
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have pushed the adoption into the second half of the year. While this common interest of the legislative parties was clearly a key factor in making substantial progress on the issue a decade after the article on political parties had been adopted in Maastricht, it also gave the Council substantial bargaining power over the Parliament, which was clearly more concerned with solving the issue before the elections. It is therefore not surprising that the result was a statute which addresses only the question of party financing, and contains merely an interim solution on the touchy question of a legal personality for political parties.7 The first draft of the European Parliament’s report on the Commission proposal by Jo Leinen (PSE), member of the Constitutional Affairs Committee, clearly indicated disappointment with this limited approach by the Commission and set out the more ambitious approach of the European Parliament (which it had also pursued in 2001) in favour of a comprehensive statute on the definition, legal status, modus operandi and financing of political parties in the EU. As noted previously, however, the Greek presidency intimated very clearly that there was no chance of getting the agreement of a qualified majority in the Council on such far-reaching proposals, let alone achieving this within the tight time-frame of the Greek presidency. The focus of discussion consequently shifted to the financing aspect, as a crucial concern for the Parliament. This was at least a first step towards a more independent standing for European political parties. Yet it also became clear that in order to administer subsidies from the EU budget in a transparent way, and in order to decide which associations or groups would be eligible for such support, some criteria for defining a European party would be necessary. Therefore, the question of clarifying what a European party actually is had to be tackled, even though the proposed legislation was
trying to avoid the issue as much as possible. Not surprisingly, it was precisely on these questions of definition that negotiations proved most tricky. The main bone of contention was the threshold of representation, that is to say, how widely a party has to be represented throughout the EU—and in what way—for it to be considered a ‘European’ party. This question touched on a number of separate and equally sensitive issues: on the one hand, it pitted small or minority parties, who feared that it would be difficult for them to find like-minded allies in many Member States, against the larger party families (especially the European People’s Party and the Party of European Socialists), who were already present in virtually all current and future Member States. On the other hand, it raised the question of whether, for the purposes of European party financing, representation should only be based on presence in national parliaments, or whether other political forums (i.e. regional parliaments and the European Parliament) should also be taken into account—and if so, how. Of course, this latter question involved regionalist parties in some sub-national parliaments, who might find it difficult to join forces with regionalists from other Member States with whom they share nothing but a regionalist focus. It also tied in with the wider debate on the standing of regions and regional representative bodies in the overall struggle over the sharing of areas of competence between the EU and its constituent parts. The formula found in the end (parties have to be represented in one quarter of the Member States in regional or national parliaments, or have to have won at least 3% of the votes in one quarter of the Member States during the last European elections)8 represents a hard-won battle from the point of view of the larger groups in the European Parliament, who wanted to set the threshold of representation at one third of
See also Jo Leinen & Justus Schönlau, ‘Auf dem Weg zur Europäischen Demokratie – Politische Parteien auf EU-Ebene: neueste Entwicklungen’ in Integration 03/2003, pp. 218–27. Regulation (EC) No. 2004/2003.
Member States. In contrast, some members of the Council, notably those countries whose governments were coalitions that included small or marginal parties (such as Austria’s Freedom party or Italy’s Northern League), wanted representation in the parliaments of three—or a maximum of five—Member States to be sufficient. The settlement on one quarter as the representation threshold was finally agreed, also because a relative level (rather than an absolute number of Member States) means that the internal balance is not jeopardised by the accession of new Member States. The other very contentious issue in the discussions between Council and Parliament was the question of donations by public bodies and private persons. Here the divisions in the Council were along the lines of different national legislations and traditions: while in some Member States donations to political parties are generally prohibited, in others they are allowed within strict limits, and in others again they are regulated much more loosely. Given the number of quite recent partyfinancing scandals in several Member States, the issue was always going to be a very sensitive one. At the same time, however, several of the more critical Member States seem to have assumed that, for the time being, it is unlikely that anybody (company or individual) will want to make large donations to political parties at EU level, given their very limited political influence and the availability of many other channels to push individual interests in the European-level political process. Consequently, a solution was found on the level of donations allowed (up to €12,000 per year from any individual donor, with a requirement for the party to declare all donations exceeding €500), with France—which had originally been the most intransigent on this question—changing its attitude in the late stages
in the interest of attaining an overall agreement. Nevertheless, three countries did vote against the package in the Council, showing that no agreement would have been possible under the unanimity requirement. The agreed compromise was duly accepted by the plenary of the European Parliament on 19 June, by 345 votes to 102. Resistance came mainly from the smaller parties, for the reasons mentioned above.9 The regulation was subsequently adopted by the Council and published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 15 November.10 It came into effect three months later, that is, on 15 February 2004. The European Parliament (EP) then had to take the appropriate steps to implement the European party financing by adopting the executive rules setting up the infrastructures for the administration of the funds in question: according to Article 4 and 5 of the statute, it is the Parliament which executes the regulation and administers the funds. This role for the European Parliament was by no means uncontested. An early version of the EP-report, which proposed a number of very substantial changes to the Commission proposal, made the Commission responsible for executing the budget on party financing by stating in Article 3 that “…to obtain financing, a European political party shall file an application with the European Commission…”.11 This attempt to move the execution of party financing to the Commission must be seen against the background of the idea (notably in the German debate) of removing the administration of party funding as far as possible from the political process itself, in order to ensure greater impartiality on the part of those who hand out the money. In the EU context, however, this principle could
The ‘no’ voters included numerous members of the group Europe of Democracy and Differences, several members of the European Left/Nordic Green alliance, but also members of the European People’s Party group (mainly UK and Swedish Conservatives). 10 OJ L 297, 15.11.2003, p. 1. 11 Draft Report for the Constitutional Affairs Committee (rapporteur Jo Leinen) on the proposal for a European Parliament and Council regulation on the statute and financing of European political parties, Provisional 2003/0039 (COD), of 27 March 2003. 9
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not be upheld: the Commission went to great lengths to explain that it was the Parliament, as the only political body in the EU, that had to take this politically extremely sensitive matter in hand. The argument was that otherwise the Commission would be held responsible for a part of the budget over which it could not, by definition, have final control. The Council did not want to get involved in this struggle. Ultimately the Commission prevailed, so it was the EP which had to set up the structures to handle the new regulation. The EU party-financing rules in action With the implementation of the new regulation, the political parties which had not already done so had to establish structures outside of, and independent from, the European Parliament’s political groups. Article 4 and 10 of the partyfinancing statutes (i.e. the actual provisions for financial support) were to come into effect with the constitutive meeting of the newly elected political parties applying for funds for the remaining six months of the budgetary year 2004. By this time, eight parties had been founded in accordance with the requirements of the regulation. These parties received funds from the European budget once their compliance with the conditions had been ascertained. In the absence of a clear provision for a Europeanlevel legal status for the political parties, most of them decided to register themselves as nonprofit organisations under Belgian law, with one party preferring registration under Luxembourg jurisdiction. Recently two more parties have been founded, one of which is registered in France and the other in Denmark.12 This development once more highlights how the lack of agreement on 13 12
the legal status of political parties at European level contributes to a somewhat confusing (and potentially legally problematic) situation, which does nothing to improve the legitimacy and visibility of political parties at EU level. In fact, the new party financing rules have also been heavily criticised and legally challenged from different angles since their implementation: more specifically in Germany, where there has been a debate on how far support for European parties (most of whom do not, as yet, have established bases of individual membership) is compatible with the aims of the parties article in the EC Treaty, and on whether the conditions for receiving party financing do not discriminate against smaller parties and newer ones.13 While some of the critical points raised in this debate certainly merit deeper analysis (such as the question of which criteria and mechanisms are useful or necessary in defining whether a political party seeking EU financing complies with the values and principles of democracy in the EU, or that of the future development of new kinds of political movements and how they will eventually ‘fit into’ the European party financing system), some of the more fundamental criticism seems to stem from applying national standards too closely at the European level. In particular, the question of whether organisations that do not yet have directly active individual members can legitimately be called ‘parties’ and whether, therefore, they should be supported by public funds at all seems to ignore the fundamentally different development and role of parties in the European integration process so far. This, of course, ties into the much wider debate on whether the ‘top-down’ nature
The ten currently existing European political parties are: • The European Peoples’ Party • The Party of European Socialists • The European Liberal, Democratic and Reform Party • The European Green Party • The European Left Party • The European Democratic Party • The Alliance for a Europe of the Nations • The European Free Alliance • The Alliance of Independent Democrats in Europe • The EU Democrats. H. von Arnim. The European Party Financing Regulation (Münster: LIT-Verlag, 2004). C.-C. Buhr: Europäische Parteien - die rechtliche Regelung ihrer Stellung und Finanzierung (Berlin: WVB Verlag, 2003).
of European integration can be made more democratic, and if so, how. It does seem clear, however, that political parties do have a role to play in this. Supporting them in a transparent way, so that they can improve their contribution, seems to be a more appropriate response than denying their legitimacy through a (somewhat idealised) comparison with national parties. The other challenge to the party-financing statute has come from a group of MEPs belonging to various smaller parties. This group, under the leadership of Jens-Peter Bonde, filed a legal request for annulment of the regulation mainly on the grounds that it was discriminatory against smaller parties (especially those not represented in the European Parliament). They claimed that the regulation violated the fundamental freedoms of thought, expression and association because it required respect for the fundamental values and principles of European integration.14 This submission was subsequently declared inadmissible by the court on the grounds that the plaintiffs were not directly and individually concerned. An appeal is pending against this ruling. Whither European political parties? This ongoing debate shows just how sensitive and politically charged the question of political parties is—at the European level as in any member state. In this sense, the passing of the regulation on party financing has contributed to a ‘normalisation’ of the situation at EU level, because it has given the issue a clear focus and a legal and political framework, in which contestation can take place. At the practical level too, the new system has to prove its worth. In order to keep up the political momentum towards a more comprehensive agreement on a party statute, but also to monitor the application of the 2004 regulation, the latter includes a review clause stating that, two years after its entry into force, the Parliament has to 14 15 16
report how the system is working and whether anything should be changed. In response to this task, the General Secretary of the EP, after consultation with the political parties, presented an assessment of the financing operation as a basis for a report in the Constitutional Affairs Committee.15 The latter voted on a report by committee chairman Jo Leinen on 22 February 2006.16 By stressing that financing political parties is just one (albeit important) part of firmly establishing them as key actors in the democratic development of the European Union, this evaluation of the party financing statute places the 2004 regulation once more in a wider context. For this reason, the Constitutional Affairs Committee is calling for further initiatives towards a genuine European party statute, which should also include provisions on individual membership and the democratic internal organisation of European parties as well as an independent legal basis for them in EU law. The report also contains a number of practical suggestions for the improvement of the financing system on the current legal basis. The main thrust here is the call for more flexibility in the administration of the money and the desire of the political parties to move beyond EU subsidies granted on a strictly annual basis, which makes it difficult for them to adapt to changing political priorities and react to unforeseen events. These requests highlight a legal-technical problem which does have serious political implications for the future development of European parties. As party financing is currently subject to the EU’s financial regulations, which were devised for EU subsidies to a number of very different bodies in the framework of the EU policies, the rules do not seem to fit the needs of political parties very well. Consequently, the debate in the Constitutional Affairs Committee on the 2006 report raised the issue of whether a different kind of financing
CASE No T-13/04 BONDE and others v. The European Parliament and the European Council. Document PE 362.124/BUR/AN.2. European Parliament, (A6-0042/2006).
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framework, specifically tailored to the situation that the political parties find themselves in, might be envisaged in addition to or beyond the current financial regulations. As yet, however, it is too early to say if the political will for such a move exists in the European Council. In any case, the report recommends changing the financial regulations on a number of points or at least interpreting them flexibly with regard to some of the special concerns of the political parties, such as the introduction of long-term planning, the building up of reserves by parties with their own resources, the transfer of financial appropriations between different categories of expenditure, and the timing and administration of the application procedure.17 It remains to be seen to what extent these suggestions will be taken up in the ongoing process of revising the financial regulations and in the administrative practice of the European Parliament itself. Apart from these technical issues, the 2006 Leinen report (which was adopted in the EP plenary on March 23rd, 2006) makes several broader political suggestions in the form of questions, which will determine whether the European political parties can continue to become more visible and more relevant in the development of a democratic Europe. A long-standing issue in this context is that of a uniform electoral system for the EP elections, which would include the distribution of a certain number of the MEP seats via transnational European party lists. This would clearly be a great incentive for the political parties to increase their political coherence and would raise their visibility in the election campaigns—especially if it were to be combined with a strengthened role of the European Parliament in the election of the Commission president, as provided for by the Constitutional Treaty (Art. I-27). The report clearly places this and its other suggestions (on the role of political parties in future national referendum campaigns on
ibid. point 11.
European issues, on the possibility of European political foundations and on the role of European party youth organisations) in the framework of the reflection period on the future of Europe and its Constitution. It seems appropriate that this reflection, which was triggered by a clear signal of the persistence of democratic problems in the integration process, is used not least to discuss what role political parties—as key actors in any democratic system—can play in solving these problems. Conclusion Political parties are, just as the other elements of the EU’s political system, still at an early stage of development. As a system in evolution, the EU is under particularly close scrutiny and (rightly) creates high expectations on the part of the citizens in terms of meeting its own standards of transparency, democracy, participation and, not least, the efficient and effective delivery of concrete results. At the same time, it is clear that not all parts of the system are necessarily developing at the same pace. Until recently, political parties—as key actors in the democratic process—seemed to be lagging behind in the evolution of the EU. With the 2004 regulation on party financing, an important step was taken to consolidate their position and accelerate their further development. As has been pointed out by both supporters and critics of the regulation, a financing statute is clearly only one part of a more comprehensive legal and political framework for EU parties. Yet, not least through its imperfections, the 2004 regulation has focussed the discussion on concrete steps which need to be taken to improve the situation, at both a technical and a more political level. In order to improve the overall democratic credentials of the EU, however, the political parties must not simply sit back and wait for the arrival of the right institutional conditions for them to function well. They themselves have to
make the most of the opportunities that already exist, in order to become more representative, more visible and more active as disseminators of information and shapers of political alternatives.18 The active role of the parties in the assimilation process is a key part of the overall dynamics of European integration. The present period of reflection offers the chance to move forward by building on, not only the practical experience of the past two years, but also the much greater debate on the part to be played by political parties in European integration. The constitutional crisis of the Union and some of the more fundamental objections to the integration project show that this is now more urgent than ever.
Justus Schönlau is an Associate Research Fellow at the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS).
For an analysis of some recent activities in these areas by the European political parties, see Stephen Day & Jo Shaw, ‘Transnational Political Parties’, in R. Bellamy, D. Castiglione & J. Shaw (Eds.) Making European Citizens, Palgrave-Macmillan, Basingstoke, forthcoming 2006.
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Steven Van Hecke
On the Road towards Transnational Parties in Europe: Why and How the European People’s Party Was Founded By Steven Van Hecke The European People’s Party (EPP) did not appear out of the blue in 1976: its foundation and initial development were the combined result of various internal and external factors. Explaining why and how the EPP was founded should therefore make explicit reference to these factors. This is precisely what this article is about. First, we will analyse the wider framework in which transnational parties were founded. Second, we will focus on the main points of the foundation of the EPP within this framework. Finally, we will examine the way in which these particularities have determined the further development of the EPP. Christian Democratic cooperation… The EPP is built on the ‘foundations’ of ways of cooperation that have long existed among Christian Democrats in Western Europe. The first institutionalised cooperation, although very weak, dates back to the early twentieth century. The Secrétariat international des partis démocratiques d’inspiration chrétienne (1925–39) had its seat in Paris and, because of French concerns, did not explicitly refer to the term ‘Christian Democracy’. The Secrétariat was meant to be a ‘union’ or internationale— modelled on that of the socialists—but was in fact nothing more than a bureau de contact. It was certainly not an example of transnational cooperation, the international activity of national political parties being limited to bilateral diplomacy. It was not so much parties that the Secrétariat depended heavily on as it was Christian Democratic politicians. Those from the Benelux, France, Germany and Italy
were among its most active participants. The Nouvelles Équipes Internationales (1948–65) was founded after the Second World War, based on the contacts of certain leaders of re-established Christian Democratic parties. From the outset there was controversy about the nature of the organisation (about how much integration there should be) and its name (whether it should be called ‘Christian Democratic’). Cooperation was limited to the organisation of forums, in which senior Christian Democrats from different Western European countries discussed the future of Europe. Representatives were grouped in national équipes that represented one or more parties from one country. Its most important political role lay in bringing together French and German Christian Democrats. In this way, it contributed to the integration of the German Federal Republic in Western Europe.1 Gradually the role of the Équipes was taken over by the group of Christian Democrats in the Common Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community (from 1952) and the European Parliament of the European Community (from 1958). Formally, the Christian Democratic Group was established on 23 June 1953. Due to the loss of power of French Christian Democrats, who had to this point instigated Christian Democratic cooperation, the Équipes renamed itself the ‘European Union of Christian Democrats’ (EUCD, 1965). German and Italian Christian Democrats dominated the organisation’s doings, something they had not done in the Équipes. The EUCD’s confederal structure generated the exchange of strategies and communications as well as the writing of a common Christian Democratic doctrine.
We refer to the talks of the ‘Geneva Circle’. See Michael Gehler, “Begegnungsort des Kalten Krieges. Der ‘Genfer Kreis’ und die geheimen Absprachen westeuropäischer Christdemokraten (1947-1955)”, in Michael Gehler (ed.), Christdemokratie in Europa im 20. Jahrhundert, 2001, pp. 642–694.
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...and European integration In the mid-1970s the situation changed profoundly. The prospect of direct election to the European Parliament by universal suffrage—decided by the Hague Summit in December 1969 and fixed for 1978 by the Paris Summit of December 1974 (but later delayed to 1979)—marked a new era in the history of Christian Democratic cooperation. For the first time, the establishment of a federation of Christian Democratic parties was being considered.2 It was widely expected that, thanks to the direct election of the Parliament, European party politics would soon prevail over national party politics. For instance, it was believed that ‘European parties’ that still had to be established would play a dominant role in the European Parliament election campaign. Furthermore, leading academics and politicians openly predicted that these ‘European parties’ would herald a new and decisive phase in the democratisation of the European integration process. Further integration of like-minded parties now seemed essential, given their potential role in European politics. For the Christian Democrats of those days, two other factors were crucial. First, the accession of the United Kingdom, Denmark and Ireland in 1973 led to a relative decrease in the power of the Christian Democratic Group. As British and Danish Conservatives established their own group in the European Parliament, it was only the Irish Fine Gael that joined the Christian Democrats. Moreover, when, in 1975, Labour finally delegated its MEPs to Strasbourg and consequently joined the Socialist Group, the Christian Democratic Group lost its relative majority for the first time in the history of the European Parliament. Licking its wounds, the EUCD debated the idea of establishing a ‘Democratic Centre’ that would bring together Christian Democrats and Conservatives in order to break the Socialist 2
majority. Christian Democrats from the Benelux and Italy did not support this idea, while parties from outside the EC felt discriminated against by parties inside the EUCD, as the organisation geared itself more and more to the agenda of the Community in general and the Parliamentary Christian Democratic Group in particular. Second, the establishment of transnational Socialist and Liberal parties put pressure on the efforts of the Christian Democrats. In 1974 the ‘Confederation of Socialist Parties in the European Community’ had been created from the Liaison Bureau (established by the Socialist International in 1957) to further cooperation between EC parties. The Liberal International decided in 1972 to examine ways of deepening cooperation between parties in the EC. In 1976 the ‘Federation of Liberal and Democratic Parties in the European Community’ was formally founded; but in contrast to its Socialist counterpart, it was independent of the Liberal International. It is therefore no coincidence that, immediately after the Socialists and the Liberals decided to found ‘European parties’, Group Chairman and EUCD Vice President Hans-August Lücker urged the national parties to make the arrangements necessary to establish a similar organisation at EC level.3 The marked delay in doing this, due to internal disputes about inter alia the role of the EUCD, would paradoxically encourage greater efforts, so that the Socialists and Liberals fell victim to the dialectics of progress. It is worth noting that the Conservative parties undertook no initiatives to establish an organisation that would bring them closer to each other within the framework of the EC. Founding a new party The first steps in the process that led to the establishment of the EPP were taken in the ‘Political Committee of Christian Democratic Parties from Member States of the EC’. This was
The first, albeit implicit, reference to the foundation of a Europe-wide Christian Democratic party dates back to 1971. See ACDP IX-007-001, Protokoll der Ständigen Konferenz (Christdemokraten) der Sechs am 26. Mai 1971 in Rom. The Italian MEP Giuseppe Bartolomei pleads for “einem Bewusstwerden der politischen Parteien..., die sich dann auf europäischer Ebene zusammenschliessen würden”. According to Papini, the term ‘European party’ was for the first time mentioned in 1972. See Roberto Papini, The Christian Democratic International, 1997, p. 148. ACDP IX-007-001, [Vertraulich] Notiz über die Anpassung der Strukturen der christlich-demokratischen Parteien an die politische Entwicklung der Europäischen Gemeinschaften zur Europäischen Union – Brüssel, den 2. April 1975.
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a body of the EUCD that had been founded to accommodate the wishes of the non-EC member parties that formal EUCD procedures should not be entirely dominated by EC matters. This structure d’accueil represented eleven parties from seven EC Member States: the Belgian CVP and PSC; the Dutch ARP, CHU and KVP; the CSV from Luxembourg; the German CDU and CSU; the Italian Democrazia Cristiana; the French CDS and the Irish Fine Gael. Sustainable cooperation in the form of party political organisation was, for the first time, officially set as an objective at the meeting of 2 February 1973. Despite the intention to establish working groups, most of the attention was initially paid to drafting a common political programme. It was only later that a twin track approach was chosen: simultaneously founding a new organisation and writing a programme for the future.4 This new approach was utilised in September 1975 when an ad hoc working group called the ‘European party’ was established within the Political Committee. Hans-August Lücker and Wilfried Martens, then president of the CVP, became rapporteurs.5 Between November 1975 and January 1976, several meetings of the working group took place to discuss the statutes of the future European party of Christian Democrats. The draft statutes were presented to the Political Committee during its meeting of 20 February in Paris. Approval was reached at the meeting of 29 April 1976, resulting in the formal establishment of the ‘European People’s Party— Federation of Christian Democratic Parties from the European Community’. The official inauguration took place in Luxembourg on 8 July 1976, in a meeting of the Political Bureau of the EUCD during which Belgian Prime Minister Leo Tindemans was elected president. The first EPP meeting on 19 July 1976 unanimously adopted the party’s statutes and internal rules 4
and elected the vice presidents.6 During the first congress, held in Brussels on 6 and 7 March 1978, the political programme was adopted, and the Frenchman Jean Seitlinger was elected as secretary-general. One week later, on 14 March, the Christian Democratic Group in the European Parliament decided to add to its name ‘Group of the European People’s Party’. In 1979 the two parts of the name were switched, resulting in ‘Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats)’. The quick succession of meetings in which the EPP was founded concealed fundamental disagreement about the organisation’s name and membership, which arose before the party’s formal establishment and continued thereafter. These two issues of name and membership concerned, in fact, a single basic question: whether or not the ‘European party’ would be open to non-Christian Democratic parties. The Germans were in favour of this sort of openness. At any price, they wanted to prevent the European Parliament from being dominated by the Socialists. Due to their absence in the United Kingdom and Denmark, Christian Democrats were numerically too weak to counterbalance the Socialists and should therefore enter into an alliance with Conservatives and Liberals. Christian Democrats from the Benelux, France and Italy, however, were opposed to this idea. They supported a ‘grand coalition’ with Socialist forces, something they were familiar with and appreciated from their experience at national level. The role played by Lücker and Martens was crucial in solving the problems of the EPP’s foundation. As a member of the Bavarian CSU, Lücker supported a broad alliance of Christian Democrats and Conservatives in principle, but personal convictions led him to give priority to collaboration among Christian Democrats. Unlike
ACDP IX-007-001, Kommuniqué – Sitzung des Politischen Komitees der Christlich-Demokratischen Parteien der Europäischen Gemeinschaften – Brüssel, 2. Februar 1973. ACDP IX-007-001: Procès-verbal de la réunion du Comité politique des partis démocrates-chrétiens des pays membres des Communautés européennes – Luxembourg, le 26 septembre 1975. ACDP IX-007-052: Procès-verbal de la réunion du Bureau politique le 8 juillet 1976 à Luxembourg.
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many of his fellow countrymen, he had learnt during his European activities to understand and respect the feelings of the various Christian Democratic parties. The Flemish Christian Democrat Martens, on the other hand, had no connection with the anti-Socialist discourse of the CDU/CSU. He attached value to Christian Democratic ideology, while at the same time realizing that, by definition, a future European party could not exclude collaboration with nonChristian Democratic parties. If they did so, the Christian Democrats would not count for much in an ever deeper and wider Europe. From the outset, both rapporteurs had acknowledged the opposing views on the foundation of a European party of Christian Democrats. By taking this into account, they prevented a split and finally contributed to a compromise that was acceptable for all parties. What’s in a name? Whereas a consensus was easily reached on the party’s statutes, during its meeting on 20–21 February 1976, the Political Committee could not agree on the party’s name. The European Party working group suggested different alternatives but never reached an agreement.7 The eleventhhour proposal ‘European People’s Party’ did not help to settle the matter.8 The question whether to include the term ‘Christian Democracy’ along with ‘European People’s Party’ remained open. The issue of what the party should be called was not without importance as it showed the profile the party wanted to have. Those supporting the entry of the British and Danish Conservatives tried to prevent the use of the term ‘Christian Democracy’ whereas the opponents of their entry considered this reference to be a guarantee of the Christian Democratic character of their European cooperation. In September 1975, Lücker had established a separate body to deal with this issue. However, the ‘Democratic Centre’ working group was unable to contribute to a settlement.
After much debate and with time pressing, the Committee finally reached a compromise— getting there had been an odyssey. The term ‘people’s party’ was chosen both to accommodate the German wish for openness and to make reference to the Christian Democratic party names in many countries (it was thought that the term ‘Christian’ would evoke papist and clerical associations in the United Kingdom and Scandinavia). As Volksparteien, the CDU and CSU are open to Liberals and Conservatives; however, for historical reasons, their party names paradoxically refer explicitly and exclusively to ‘Christian Democracy’. The main Christian Democratic parties from the Benelux—the CVP, KVP and CSV—also use the appellation ‘people’s party’. The same applies to the immediate predecessors of the CDS in France and the Democrazia Cristiana in Italy. At the same time, and as part of the compromise, a reference to the term ‘Christian Democracy’ was kept in the second part of the party’s name: ‘Federation of Christian Democratic Parties in the EC’. It was a hollow victory, however, since this part of the name was rarely used. Moreover, since the 1990s the name ‘European People’s Party’ has facilitated—not to say made possible—the enlargement of the party through the inclusion of like-minded parties. One could even argue that it is only since its rapprochement with Conservative and Liberal forces that the EPP has—finally—become a true ‘people’s party’. The party’s name has in every way contributed to its success in terms of membership. With or without the Conservatives? The issue of membership in the new European party was also of great importance in the early days. The central question of the debate was whether membership in the EPP should be restricted to parties from EC countries or be open to parties in non-EC Member States. In other words: was it possible for non-Christian Democratic parties to ally themselves formally with the EPP? The
Different names circulated. See ACDP IX-007-009: Parti populaire européen, Démocratie chrétienne européenne, Parti populaire démocrate-chrétien européen, Parti populaire (chrétien) social européen, Parti social européen pour le progrès. ACDP IX-007-001, Procès-verbal de la réunion du Comité politique des partis démocrates-chrétiens des pays membres de la Communauté européenne du 20 et 21 février 1976 à Paris.
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argument was decided in favour of those who pleaded for restricting membership. Unlike the issue of what to call the party, an agreement had already been reached within the European Party working group, particularly in connection with the party’s statutes. What was then Article 4 stated that only parties from EC Member States could join the EPP. At the same time, the internal rules provided for ‘associated membership’ and ‘observer status’.9 However, at its meeting on 28 October 1976, the Political Bureau decided that no party was eligible to become an associate member or permanent observer. As a result, Austrian and Swiss Christian Democrats—who had long participated in the EUCD but, because their countries had not joined the EC, were not part of the European inner circle—felt once again excluded. Wishing to be closer to the EPP, they asked in a common memorandum of 23 December 1976 for an amendment of the statutes, a review of the decisions taken by the Political Bureau and a formal procedure for cooperation between the EUCD and the EPP. Although the EPP was founded in the city where the EUCD had its seat, no official link existed between the two organisations. Austrian and Swiss Christian Democrats therefore warned of separation and division between the various international organisations. Their requests, however, were not granted. The opponents of ‘open membership’ stuck to their guns. As this issue was settled relatively easily, and before an agreement had been reached on the party name, there is little reason to think that the ‘solutions’ for both problems—despite some striking similarities— were part of one overall compromise. The issue of drafting a common political programme was much less a subject of fierce debate than the party name and membership questions had been. Among the founding parties of the EPP, there was a broad consensus about social and economic policies and the direction
the European integration process should take. Lücker and Martens, who were also the rapporteurs for the ‘Programme’ working group, could rely on the various Christian Democratic programmes that had just come into being: the Manifesto of Christian Democrats in Europe and the Political Programme of the World Union of Christian Democrats (both had been approved by the Political Bureau of the EUCD, the first in Paris on 2 February 1976 and the second in Rome on 6 July 1976). Furthermore, support for the synthesis and comparison of the national manifestos was given by both the KonradAdenauer-Stiftung and CEPESS, the study centre of the Flemish Christian Democrats. As no other party federation managed to present a common electoral platform, the programme proved to be the most successful achievement of the foundation of the EPP. In view of the campaign for the direct election of the European Parliament, the political programme of the EPP was entitled Together for a Europe of Free People. The fruit of initial discord Notwithstanding the outcome of the foundation of the EPP, the German Christian Democrats looked for ways to remain in contact with Conservative parties. At first they tried to achieve this within the EUCD and the EPP by breathing new life into the idea of a ‘Democratic Centre’. A working group that had been founded for this purpose met in December 1977 and April 1978 under the leadership of the German KaiUwe von Hassel, president of the EUCD. This working group proposed the establishment of a kind of platform on which all non-Socialist and anti-collectivist Centre parties from Europe could cooperate. But the idea did not bear fruit. Opposition within the EPP was too widespread. Believing that things were not moving forward, the Germans started to explore new ways to institutionalise their contacts with Conservative parties. In their resistance to the ‘confinement’ of the EPP, the German Christian Democrats
ACDP IX-007-009, Ad-hoc-Gruppe ‘Statut’. Entwurf für das Statut einer europäischen Partei – Brüssel, den 16. Dezember 1975.
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On the Road towards Transnational Parties in Europe: Why and How the European People’s Party Was Founded
found allies, particularly the Austrian and Swiss Christian Democrats who regarded themselves as being excluded from the new party federation. The party leaders had already met in 1975 at Schloß Klessheim near Salzburg to establish a broad alliance of European centre-right parties outside the EPP. Parallel with the process that led to the foundation of the EPP, the Germans presented drafts of statutes and manifestos to friendly parties. The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung contributed by comparing party manifestos and putting protagonists in contact with one another. A special working group drew up a new organisational structure in the course of 1976. Due to the diversity among the parties involved—anti-Socialism was de facto the only idea that bound them together—many obstacles had to be cleared away, with the result that the official foundation had to be delayed several times. It was really only the determination of the CDU/CSU that kept things going. That they took these initiatives towards non-EC or nonChristian Democratic parties did not mean that there were no attempts to accommodate the sensibilities of their Christian Democratic friends. In turn, this led to irritation among those parties that had no affiliation with Christian Democracy. In this regard, it should be noted that the Germans weakened the structure of the new organisation—which was originally very close to that of the EPP—in an attempt to reach a compromise with critics inside the EPP. On 24 April 1978, the ‘European Democratic Union’ (EDU)—an “association [not a party or party federation] of Christian Democratic, Conservative and non-collectivist parties”—was founded in Klessheim by, among others, CDU president Helmut Kohl; Margaret Thatcher, leader of the British Conservatives; and Jacques Chirac, president of the neo-Gaullist RPR. The establishment of the EDU was a major setback for the Christian Democratic parties in the Benelux, France and Italy. Their idea of
European cooperation solely among Christian Democrats had not prevailed. The timing of the setting up of the EDU—only one month after the successful first EPP congress—was seen as a provocation.10 However, by fiercely opposing the ‘opening up’ of the EPP, they had contributed to precisely what they had wanted to avoid: cooperation with non-Christian Democratic parties that might lead to a weakening of the ideal and the creation of a European federation. Through the foundation of the EDU, it now became redundant for the EPP to engage in a formal dialogue with Conservative parties inside and outside the EC. On a whole, mutual distrust dominated the relations between the CDU/CSU and the other EPP member parties, something that seriously hampered the first years of the newly founded ‘European Party’. Whither Christian Democratic cooperation in Europe? With the foundation of the EDU, the deadlock was complete. The first victim was the EUCD: it became an empty shell since its most important member parties were also members of either the EPP or the EDU (see figure). To ease at least the strained relations between the EUCD and the EPP, the two general secretariats fused in 1983 and a single secretary general was appointed, the German Thomas Jansen. At the level of party organisations, particularly those involving both the EPP and the EDU, a long period of ‘armed peace’ started. The new organisation and bodies of the EPP were consolidated, but the relationship with the EUCD remained unclear. It was only through practical activities and personal contacts that a common sense of belonging to one party federation emerged. In this respect, the Christian Democratic integration process that made a new start in 1975 continued slowly but steadily. This was not changed fundamentally by the development of the European Parliament immediately after 1979 and the entry of new member parties in the 1980s.
ACDP IX-007-052, Procès-verbal de la réunion jointe des Bureaux politiques de l’UEDC et du PPE le 6 juin 1978 à Berlin.
Steven Van Hecke
Figure: Member parties of the EUCD, EPP and EDU (1978)
On the one hand, the EPP was founded on a tradition of Christian Democratic cooperation that had long existed; on the other hand, it constituted a split: through the establishment of a party federation, the path of mere cooperation was left behind. Instead, the EPP chose the course of the integration and politicisation of European politics, a development that it both shaped and was shaped by. As already mentioned, its foundation cannot be understood without making reference to the external stimuli: the 1973 enlargement, the direct election of the European Parliament and the establishment of Socialist and Liberal party federations. The EPP was founded within this particular framework, and the latter left its imprint on the party’s original characteristics, including the choices that were made regarding the party name and membership. In other words, the EPP reflected the opportunity structure of the time and the place in which it was founded. At the same time, the opportunity structure constituted the agenda of the party’s initial phase of development, which can be described as consolidation, if not stagnation. The latter, however, was also due to the fact that national parties fought the first direct elections of the European Parliament with national candidates campaigning on national issues. And after the elections, many ‘European’ politicians left the Parliament and returned to their domestic arena. European party federations were unable to play any significant role in this process. If any groups can be said to have set
the tone, it was those in the European Parliament and not the party federations. It was only in the 1990s—with worsening electoral results of Christian Democratic parties, the introduction of the ‘party article’ in the Treaty of Maastricht, a more powerful European Parliament and new waves of enlargement— that a new opportunity structure of internal and external stimuli was created. Overall, it led to what one could call the ‘rebirth’ of transnational party federations, particularly the EPP, in comparison with both the national member parties and the parliamentary groups. As a result, a relatively stable ‘European party political system’ emerged. The EPP’s rapprochement towards Conservative and Liberal parties brought it face-to-face with old sources of conflict: the party name and membership issues. Old controversies also resurfaced in connection with the inefficient co-existence of three party organisations: the EUCD, EPP and EDU. The final settlement of these issues contributed heavily to the EPP’s current status as the largest European party.
Steven Van Hecke is a post-doctoral assistant at the Department of Political Science at the University of Antwerp.
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Bibliography: Archiv für Christlich-Demokratische Politik (ACDP). Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung. Teil IX-007: Europäische Volkspartei (EVP) Gründung, Führungsgremien, Kongresse, Kommissionen und Arbeitsgruppen 19751993. Bardi, Luciano (2002). Parties and party systems in the European union: National and supranational dimensions. In Kurt R. Luther & Ferdinand Müller-Rommel (eds.), Political Parties in the New Europe: Political and Analytical Challenges (pp. 293–321). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Chenaux, Philippe (1997). Les démocrateschrétiens au niveau de l’Union européenne. In Emiel Lamberts (ed.), Christian Democracy in the European Union (19451995) (pp. 449–458). Leuven: Leuven University Press. Hanley, David (2002). Christian Democracy and the paradoxes of Europeanisation: Flexibility, competition and collusion. Party Politics, 8, 463–481. Hix, Simon & Lord, Christopher (1997). Political Parties in the European Union. Basingstoke: Macmillan. Jansen, Thomas (1998). The European People’s Party: Origins and Development. Basingstoke: Macmillan. Johansson, Karl Magnus (2002). European People’s Party. In Karl Magnus Johansson & Peter Zervakis (eds.), European Political Parties between Cooperation and Integration (pp. 51–80). Baden-Baden: Nomos Verlaggesellschaft. Kaiser, Wolfram (2004). Transnational Christian Democracy: From the Nouvelles Equipes Internationales to the European People’s Party. In Michael Gehler & Wolfram Kaiser (eds.), Christian Democracy in Europe since 1945 (pp. 221–237). London and New York: Routledge.
Khol, Andreas, Tobisson, Lars & Wintoniak, Alexis (1998). Twenty Years European Democratic Union. s.l. Van Hecke, Steven (2004). A decade of seized opportunities: Christian Democracy in the European Union. In Steven Van Hecke & Emmanuel Gerard (eds.), Christian Democratic Parties in Europe since the End of the Cold War (pp. 269–295). Leuven: Leuven University Press. Van Hecke, Steven (2005). Christen-democraten en conservatieven in de Europese Volkspartij. Ideologische verschillen, nationale tegenstellingen en transnationale conflicten. Leuven: K.U. Leuven. Van Kessel, Alexander (2003). ‘Ruggen recht, heren!’ Hoe de Nederlandse christendemocraten het tegenover hun Duitse geestverwanten aflegden in het debat over het profiel van de Europese Volkspartij. Hilversum: Uitgeverij Verloren.
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Two Steps to European Party Democracy By Andreas von Gehlen
The thesis of a ‘democratic deficit’ in the European Union became a generally acknowledged fact in the aftermath of the Maastricht conference.1 Criticism is aimed at the gulf between the law-making capacity of Community bodies and the legitimacy they derive from citizens. This gulf developed due to the continuous transfer of national sovereignty to Community bodies, which therefore came to have ever increasing jurisdiction over citizens of the member countries even though there was no similarly increasing participation in the Community system. Hardly any concrete measures to deal with this democratic deficit were implemented before the nineties. Thus predominantly critical voices have grown ever louder; they still see a deficit in the legitimacy of all jointly made decisions of the Community in contrast to the legitimacy which member countries in the European Union enjoy. Until a few years ago, academics from different disciplines and active participants in politics were separately involved in researching European questions; commonly, they were motivated by the integration progress. The results of these originally isolated investigations are now available to an acquis académique. So far, however, there is no agreement over what the solution to the problem of the European democratic deficit might look like. A reason for this is the different types of legitimacy transfer at the national and the European levels: in each of the European Union
Member States, the will of citizens is transferred via political parties at the national level; in this way decisions attain legitimacy. When it comes to European-wide decisions, however, citizens have practically no direct influence. This disparity between the political system of all member nations on the one hand and the Union on the other hand became increasingly problematic with the increasing integration of policy fields that had originally been reserved for the individual countries. The incorporation of these areas into Community law transferred decision-making power from the parties to the executives and their administrative apparatuses, with the consequent weakening of the national level and thus—in the absence of equally legitimate European bodies—of democracy itself. The democratic legitimacy of the EU Member States Historically, consensus has developed in the various European nation states that the legitimacy of the state depends on the recognition of the political system by the citizens living within it. This recognition is based on the fundamental conviction of the liberty of all persons. Yet this liberty is restricted in each state because decisions must be made, and rarely do all parties concerned agree with a particular decision. Therefore, differentiating between diverging interests usually precedes decision-making. In this process, all citizens (of age) in the countries belonging to the EU participate by electing their representatives, thereby ensuring democratic rule. Political parties play a mediating role between citizens and states. They contribute to the
Featherstone 1994: 149 et sqq.; Wallace & Smith 1995: 139 et sqq.
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manner in which the national institutions arrive at their decisions mainly through the recruitment of leadership personnel and the formulation of party platforms. Thus they perform functions needed in any democracy; they long ago found entrance into the political sciences under the term ‘party democracy’. For all European Union Member States, it is to be noted that the legitimacy problem was dealt with to a large extent by this system of national parties. The integration process European democratic deficit
Although the conviction that it was necessary to have democratically legitimised rule in the European Community was never in dispute, the process of integration undermined this common foundation of the participants. Six Western European national states had first established the European Coal and Steel Community. Since the supranational bodies were originally organised inter-governmentally, their legitimacy could be traced back to the national countries. There the continuous intertwining of international politics and economics led to the realisation that the states could not fulfil their tasks isolated from each other, but rather—to put it plainly—“one can only survive as part of a whole”.2 There were two options for a comprehensive solution to cross-border issues. First, the various states could have continued to collaborate in individual cases—the classical approach to international affairs. However, the initial members of the European Economic Community opted instead for a “break with the European tradition”3 of intergovernmental cooperation, and chose instead the continuous surrender of sovereignty in favour of mutual dependence.
Necessity of European legitimacy Contrary to other international organisations, the European Community established itself on the basis of a uniform legal order. Vis-à-vis its Member States, it is to a considerable degree autonomous4 and has legislative, executive and judicial power over the citizens of the Community. With the constant expansion of its authority, Community rule has grown gradually in quality and degree. Considering the (almost) undisputed democratic legitimacy of its Member States, the Community has to face the question, in light of this transfer of powers, whether its decisions are likewise democratically legitimised. This has increasingly been answered in the negative in various studies since the end of the sixties (and since Maastricht also by the public); European integration has been pinpointed as the cause of the democratic deficit. As a result of the debate on this issue in the nineties, the democratic foundation of the European Union was contractually fixed in Amsterdam: “The Union is founded on the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law, principles which are common to the Member States.”5 Even though “no nation state with the democratic deficit of the EC would ever have the chance to become a member of it,”6 to a large extent agreement prevails that in addition to these principles common to all Member States, the decisions of the Union must also meet the democratic test, inasmuch as they affect the citizens of the Member States. The treaty on the European Community has accordingly been revised repeatedly in the past 15 years. The parliamentary Community body established as the “Assembly” in 1951 was equipped, as is the European Parliament, with the functions of its national counterparts.
Simson 1991: 14f. Kipping 1996: 348. 4 “By contrast with ordinary international treaties, the EEC treaty has created its own legal system which, on the entry into force of the treaty, became an integral part of the legal systems of the Member States and which their courts are bound to apply.” European Court of Justice, Judgment of the Court of 15 July 1964, Case 6/64: 1269. 5 EU Treaty, Art. 6 (1). 6 Wolfgang Merkels; quoted in Höreth 1999: 17. 2 3
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Together with the Council, it controls (at present about 70% of) the decisions made by the Commission; the Amsterdam revision of the treaty has given to European parliamentarians the same ultimate sanction enjoyed by their colleagues in the Member States: the vote of no confidence (in the Commission as a whole). With respect to the other executive body of the EU, the European Council, the European Parliament still lacks the instruments of control enjoyed by national parliaments; control of individual councillors is still widely seen as the responsibility of the national parliaments.7 The European Parliament has received only gradually the third parliamentary function in representative democracies, legislative power. The relative extent of its ‘nonparticipation’ has decreased considerably, from over 70% at the time of the EEC treaty to 35% with the taking of effect of the Treaty of Nice.8 Within the framework of the legislation, jurisdiction over budgets is emphasised as one of the functions of national parliaments; here the areas of competence of the national parliaments correspond to those of the EP. The expansion of parliamentary powers has not been matched, however, by a re-evaluation of the role of parties at the Community level. This stems primarily from the fact that European parliamentarians are elected nationally, which reserves to the parties in the Member States (and/or regional administrative bodies) the main function of political parties, the selection of candidates. Further development of the European party federations …
It is clear, then, that the European level in particular lacks the abovementioned link between citizens and the state. European parties have existed by name since the middle
of the seventies. With respect to the transfer of democratic legitimacy, however, they do not possess the basic tools which would allow them to express the political will of citizens, tools comparable to those possessed by their parent national parties. Thus, citizens can only express their overall agreement with the European integration project in elections. Public participation in individual decisions of European community bodies must be regarded as insufficient. Political science has not yet come to a consensus on the question of to what extent the democratic legitimacy of the Community is necessary and from what sources it should be derived. Two trends are evident in academic publications. Oriented in the ideal type of national legitimacy transfer, the majority aims to legitimise the European Union independently. Meanwhile, those who advocate a European legitimacy that is derived via transfers from the Member States are increasingly in the minority. The party systems in the EU member countries (British exceptionalism is to be noted) obtain democratic legitimacy due to their ability to express the political will of the citizens. By representing those in the state organs, the parties ensure the acknowledgment of the political systems, which is attached to several determinants: they must be, among other things, lawful, guarantee the equal representation of citizens and maintain democratic organisational structures. To achieve this, parties are organised hierarchically: legitimacy flows from the individual member through the local, regional and national levels of the party up to the European-wide level. … no autonomous European party system! The German expert in constitutional law Hans
Huber 2001: 16; Maurer & Schild 2003: 27. Maurer 2002: 198; Nentwich & Falkner 1997: 2 et sqq.
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H. Klein proposed, on the basis of a statement of the European Commission from 2000,9 a far-reaching reform of the electoral system, which would involve a marked departure from the current system of party federations. He proposed that, in addition to the national party systems, an autonomous European party system should develop with representation from as many Member States as possible.10 However, it is unlikely that this model will ever be implemented. Furthermore, each citizen of a European Union member country possesses, since the Maastricht treaty took effect, EU citizenship in addition to national citizenship; this “citizenship of the Union shall complement and not replace national citizenship.”11 Since the citizenship of the Community was coupled to that of a member state, no separate European party system could be created. It would correspond more to the logic of the European Union if a European-wide system developed along the lines of the national party systems— which is exactly what is happening with the present party federations. Preference is to be given to the existing model for another reason. The question that arises is to what extent parties that exist only on the European level would have legitimacy. The already low level of participation in political parties would certainly not increase if there were parties whose sole preoccupation was with issues on a European level. It is moreover questionable whether local and regional groupings of European parties could be organised all over the continent. The situation of the European parties The European parties are not comparable with national parties because, on the one hand, they
lack a clear role in the political system of the EU and, on the other hand, they have not yet done their ‘homework’. If one compares the role played by the European parties with that played by national parties, then, taking into consideration the specific characteristics of European politics, the following is worth noting. If we look at the membership of the European People’s Party (EPP) and the requirements for joining, it is obvious that a union of all larger centre-right parties in the EU is seen to be a priority. Even though it underlines its intention by its self-designation as a “people’s party”, the danger remains of a break-up due to unbridgeable policy differences. However, the EPP has prevented paralysis by the fact that it makes decisions by a majority vote; its form of organisation also corresponds to national standards regarding the structure and functions of party bodies. All in all, the EPP has implemented all the characteristics of national parties that would authorise it to participate in a European party democracy. The internal structure of the Party of European Socialists (PES), however, is shaped by the desire of its member parties to surrender no sovereignty to the party federation. This desire finds expression in the high hurdles to voting, the functions that the various committees are assigned and above all in the fact that the PES cannot pass resolutions binding on its parliamentary group in the European Parliament or on its member parties. Thus, its members in the EP have—together with those of the EPP— quite substantial powers in the decision-making process; yet the ability of the PES to influence decisions on the European level is limited to the coordination of its member parties. This will remain the case so long as they will not transfer parts of their sovereignty to the PES.
“The Commission has also proposed looking at the possibility of electing a certain number of Members of Parliament on Union-wide lists.” European Commission 2000: Adapting the institutions to make a success of enlargement. Information note on the Intergovernmental Conference by Michel Barnier, Member of the European Commission. Brussels: 4. 10 Klein 2001: 57 (n. 105). 11 EC Treaty, Art. 17 (1). 9
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The ability of the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party (ELDR) to represent citizens in the European Parliament is limited by one key feature: membership in the ELDR is not limited to the EU. In all other areas, it possesses the characteristics widely regarded as requirements of any European party. In addition to the concentration on European issues, the organisational structure corresponds functionally to that of a national party and is therefore comprehensible to citizens. However, while the ELDR shows only slight deficiencies, which could be self-corrected, due to its number of MEPs it has very little influence on the actual political decision-making process. The Greens united much later than the other three party federations. Even though they became involved in the issue of the EU’s legitimacy, they did not see themselves obligated, as did the EPP and ELDR, to implement measures regarding their own organisation similar to those proposed for the EU. For example, they demand simple majority decisions in all Community bodies, whereas their own resolutions require at least a two-thirds majority. A further hindrance to the transfer of legitimacy to the European Union is the fact that the European Green Party (EGP) does not limit itself to the present EU: parties from the entire continent have received membership in the EGP because of its pan-European claim. The Greens restricted themselves to the European Union for the first time during the uniform European election campaign of 2004. Thus the EGP might contribute in the future to the building of a European party democracy in spite of its present limitations. All in all, since Maastricht the Community has clearly needed parties that operate on the Community-wide level. However, two factors have caused this clear need to have no noticeable
influence on the politics of the European Union. First of all, the EU lacks the institutional preconditions that would make it possible for European parties in the various bodies of the Community to have an impact comparable to that of their national counterparts; none of the parties can offer to “its active participants [in the context of the European institutions] ideal or material chances of the execution of impersonal goals or the acquisition of personal advantages or both.”12 Consequently, the European parties examined above would at present not to be characterised as ‘political parties’,13 according to Max Weber’s definition, despite their self-designation as such. Secondly, the federations have all implemented some of the characteristic functions of the national parties. Despite the requirement that they represent citizens in the European Union, they have the shortcomings which result from being federations attempting European-wide cooperation. Most of these shortcomings could be removed by the party federations were it not for the unwillingness of some member parties to hand over sovereignty to the European party federations, a move that would correspond to the national transfer of sovereignty to the EU. While the minor defects of the EPP and ELDR could presumably be mended without major internal discord, the EGP has since 2004 aligned its internal organisation to its proposals for the dismantling of the democratic deficit of the European Union. The PES, however, will not be able to solve its internal contradictions in the medium term because its members—above all those from Denmark and Great Britain—do not want to create a European social-democratic party with all the powers possessed by parties on the national level. Since the respective weaknesses of the party federations lie in different areas, one can state
Weber 1976: 167. See also the definitions in the Statute on European Parties, Art. 2. Regulation (EC) No 2004/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 November 2003 on the regulations governing political parties at European level and the rules regarding their funding. 15.11.2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union L 297/1-4 (cited as “Statute on European Parties”), Art. 2: “Definitions—For the purposes of this Regulation: 1. ‘political party’ means an association of citizens: - which pursues political objectives, and - which is either recognised by, or established in accordance with, the legal order of at least one Member State; 2. ‘alliance of political parties’ means structured cooperation between at least two political parties; 3. ‘political party at European level’ means a political party or an alliance of political parties….” 12 13
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that European parties are generally qualified to perform the functions that can mediate democratic legitimacy.
Step 1. The democratic functions of the European parties • If the European party federations are to facilitate the transfer of democratic legitimacy, they must have the same characteristics that are compulsory for broadly based national parties. Since the task of reconciling social interests at the European level would be shifted to the federations, (1) there must be the same high level of internal party democracy that currently exists at the level of the Member States14 and (2) the democratic principle of party competition may not be undermined: the principle of an equal contest among several parties, which offer alternatives to the citizen, must be maintained.15 1. The European parties have already partly reached a level of internal democracy comparable to that of their national members. They could be forced by law to adopt fully democratic structures (which would be necessary for the transmission of democratic legitimacy) in the course of a reform of the voting right, e.g. by appropriate penalties in an amended “Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the regulations governing political parties at the European level and the rules regarding their funding”. Hence, the implementation of the following points would be expedient: • the governance of European parties must be legitimate (it must be based on recognised norms);16 • the equal participation of all members within
the party must be ensured (i.e. participation must be democratic);17 only citizens of the EU may be involved in the decision-making process since only they are (directly) affected by the decisions of the European parties; the national member parties must be proportionally represented; elections within the party which are general, free, secret, equal and direct must be held periodically; the majority principle should be used as a rule; decisions must be binding vis-à-vis the national parties and the EP parliamentary groups (but of course, they would not establish a binding mandate for the parliamentarians); and the mandate to express the political will should be prescribed with respect to all structural and financial matters.18
2. The establishment of a European party democracy on the basis of today’s federations would offer several voting alternatives to the citizens. In May 2004, in addition to the four established party federations (whose programs exhibit clear differences), a union of left-wing parties known as the “European Left” was formed. A re-evaluation of the party landscape on the European level could be the catalyst for the founding of additional federations. The principle of equal competition among the European parties, in particular with respect to media access, should be established, e.g. in the regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council. However, serious inequalities are not to be expected since, with only a few
Isensee 1992: 143f. (§ 162 n. 70); Leibholz 1960: 103. Niclauß 2002: 28f. This is already ensured in the Statute on European Parties, Art. 3: “A political party at European level shall satisfy the following conditions: (a) it must have legal personality in the Member State in which its seat is located”. 17 Statute on European Parties, Art. 3: “A political party at European level…(c) must observe, in particular in its programme and in its activities, the principles on which the European Union is founded, namely the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law”. 18 Statute on European Parties, Art. 8: “Appropriations received from the general budget of the European Union in accordance with this Regulation may only be used to meet expenditure directly linked to…administrative expenditure and expenditure linked to technical assistance, meetings, research, cross-border events, studies, information and publications.” 14 15 16
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exceptions, the four parties are represented in all Member States of the European Union. Thus they can also gain access to the citizens via their national member parties. The Europe-wide, proportional distribution of the votes for the EP seats would ensure that the European parties consider candidates from the entire EU when composing their lists of candidates. Nevertheless, conflicts with national parties can arise. If the interest of the European Union conflicts with that of individual Member States, European parliamentarians could side with the Union because their (re-)nomination is dependent on the European party. Thus, they would come into a conflict of loyalty between their European responsibilities and their national party attachment. Such conflicts, however, also arise every now and then between politicians who belong to different levels of the same party within national states; for example, a city mayor may pursue other interests than those of the national government. Step 2. The uniformity of the European voting right The inconsistency of the voting right is (in view of the continuing institutional deficit) only one facet of the democratic deficit of the European Union. The transformation of the present party federations into a European party system could, however, offer a key. It is partly the failure of the four European parties themselves, due to way they are presently organised, that today they hardly contribute to the reduction of the EUâ€™s democratic deficit. They have no effective role as intermediaries between citizens and the Community bodies since they lack the decisive characteristic common to all their national member parties: the institutional conditions for European parties to express the political will and transmit it to the Community bodies are not in place. In the 15 EU Member States prior to the most recent enlargement, the establishment
of political parties was the consequence of systemic requirements: after the parliamentarians had gained their role in the formation and oversight of the government as well as the power to legislate, they usually united to form parliamentary groups. These groups built up extra-parliamentary organisational structures when, as a result of voting reforms, ever more citizens received the right to vote and, in consequence, their approval of decisions regarding personnel and policy became crucial. This (very brief) review of the genesis of national parties also holds true for the development of the European parties. Parliamentary groups in the Community first formed in the parliamentary meetings of the ECSC. These groups were (in the two large party families) deeply involved in the establishment of the European parties when the prospect of direct voting to the European Parliament was first put forward. Thus, the support of citizens for a policy also became relevant at the European level. Nevertheless, elections still take place within the national framework, and secondly, the range of responsibilities of the European parliamentarians continues to lag behind that of their national colleagues. The latter shortcoming is not a crucial hindrance to the development of a European party democracy: although there are still certain gaps within the range of responsibilities, the European Parliament has gradually received the three classical functions of national parliaments mentioned above. Nevertheless, this was not accompanied by the institutional integration of the party federations, by which they could take on both of the main functions of political parties: on the institutional level, it needs to be settled what capabilities European parties will have, through which they can have direct influence on politics via their parliamentary groups and member parties. The recruiting function can, however, be perceived only vaguely, if at all. Since these two main functions of a political party do not presently exist, the party federations can transfer legitimacy only to a very limited degree.
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Therefore, the European parties are at present not capable of solving the problem of the EU’s democratic deficit. The proposed solutions can be divided into two groups. Proponents of the first group, who set forth various models, suggest reducing the importance of question of legitimacy; in other words, they ask whether the democratic legitimacy of the Community must necessarily take place via the EP. Scenarios were developed which give up the goal of parliamentary legitimacy entirely and look for other possibilities. Such solutions will not be discussed here since no convincing alternatives to the present practice have been proposed which have the slightest chance of being implemented.
voting system, their demand is also backed by the studies of European integration. The democratic principle requires, among other things, that all citizens have an equal opportunity to participate in the expression of the political will in the Community. This is grounded in the legally protected equal treatment of all Community citizens, which, however, conflicts with the fact that contingents of the member countries in the EP are not allotted on the basis of proportional representation.
The second group of proposals for solving the problem of the European democratic deficit points to certain political steps, based on the following maxim: “member-state legitimacy and Community legitimacy cannot replace each other mutually.”19 Therefore, if one remains with the present multi-level system in principle and considers the prospects for the establishment of a European party democracy, one has to agree with Rainer Stentzel: “the key to the entire reevaluation of the functions of European parties is in the expansion of the parties’ recruiting function which would result from direct elections to the European Parliament.”20
• nominations of EP candidates would take place within the European parties; • the entire European Union would function as one constituency; • citizens would vote for European-wide lists and/or single candidates; and • the votes would be distributed after the elections on the basis of proportional representation.
When it was adapted in September 1976, the act concerning the election of the representatives to the European Parliament stated that the voting regulations in force were to be only temporary until “the entry into force of a uniform electoral procedure.”21 Such a uniform procedure has always been a key demand of the ELDR and has been supported by the European Greens for ten years. Even though it is obvious that the two smaller party federations hope to increase the number of their MEPs in a uniform proportional
In order to promote the development of a European party system, the following fundamental principles would have to be integrated into any reform establishing a uniform right to vote:
Obstacles to be overcome All in all, no fundamental obstacles lie in the way of the implementation of a uniform European voting right and thus the establishment of a European party democracy. Nevertheless, plans to implement such a right have never even reached the stage of draft agreements since crucial participants have thus far been held back from discussing the topic, and this for at least four reasons: 1. The smaller Member States of the European Union would have to give up the superproportional weight of the votes of their citizens.
Grams 1998: 131. Stentzel 2002: 411. 21 “Pending the entry into force of a uniform electoral procedure and subject to the other provisions of this Act, the electoral procedure shall be governed in each Member State by its national provisions.” Act concerning the election of the representatives the Parliament by direct universal suffrage, annexed to the Council Decision of 20 September 1976, Council Decision (76/787/ ECSC, EEC, Euratom), Art. 7 (2). 19 20
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2. Likewise, the national (and partly regional) top officials of the parties would lose their strong influence on the compilation of the lists of candidates for the European Parliament. 3. Since all Member States would have to give their approval to this step of integration, all party federations would have to agree on this matter. The two smaller federations have already demanded such a reform; the EPP could join in based on both its federal internal organisation and its platform. This step is not, however, to be expected from all member parties of the PES because of their reservations about a closer integration of their parties. 4. Finally, the discussion of a uniform European voting right could lead to the fear that competing organisations of all national member parties might be established in the home country. However, political parties in the EU member countries would be “short-sighted, if they were to oppose such a development. Their influence on European policy, which is growing continuously both quantitatively and qualitatively, is declining, because the decisions are taken mainly by the executive branch. Within the executive, the power of the bureaucracy has been increasing.”22 Therefore, it should be considered necessary to adapt the party system to the ongoing development of European integration; national parties must transfer a part of their sovereignty to the Community level just as has been done by the national states in the last decades. Institutional reforms of the EP to enhance democratisation Following this discussion of changes to the legal status of parties and of electoral changes, additional factors in the reduction of the EU’s democratic deficit by means of the development of European party democracy can now be noted. First, proposals for the institutional reforms of
the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission: since the double legitimacy of the national states and the European level is not subject to discussion, there are only a limited number of options for the reform of these bodies which have a serious chance of being implemented. Other suggestions—for example, to provide for the independent authorisation of the members of the Council—are therefore not considered in the following remarks. In order that European parties have the same functions, and therefore the same powers, as their national counterparts, the Commission and the Council should be responsible to the EP; the Parliament should also be able to hold individual votes of confidence in every Commissioner. The stature of the European parties could be increased beyond that if the executive of the European Union were forced to rely on a parliamentary majority and the formation of coalitions (the national pattern) were to be promoted. The European Parliament should take part in the complete law-making process; it should have the right of initiative as well as the power to pass emergency decrees. Furthermore, the right of appointment of the European Parliament could be expanded, e.g. to include the judges and attorneys general at the European Court of Justice and appointees to both the European Court of Auditors and the European Central Bank. Flanking measures Finally, the emergence of a European party democracy could be supported by flanking measures based on the Northern European policy of public transparency; this policy should be expanded to the entire European level. Thus, freedom of information and access to all documents and minutes of the European Union would help the European parties draw attention to corruption. This would enhance their credibility among citizens.
Klein 2001: 58 (n. 107).
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Two Steps to European Party Democracy
Various other suggestions have been made in the same direction: to encourage, for example, the expansion of European media by establishing multilingual radio and television stations. Such measures, however, cannot cause, but only support—via the growth of a pan-European public—the emergence of a European party democracy. European party democracy! In the preceding paragraphs, measures were outlined which should be regarded as starting points for the reduction of the democratic deficit of the European Union by a European party democracy. They cannot claim completeness in view of the abundance of suggestions for enhancing the legitimacy of the European Union, but they have been consciously formulated to open up discussion. This article claims that the debate over the legitimacy of the EU should focus on the European parties. At the national level, English theorists were among the first to concern themselves with the parliamentary system, long before the transfer of legitimacy by political parties was an issue. Since the functions of the European Parliament have increased extensively in the past two decades, European parties have to follow this development of the EU and be prepared and empowered to play their part in the manner in which Community institutions arrive at their decisions. A European party democracy can contribute to the reduction of the democratic deficit of the European Union if suitable institutional conditions are created that would facilitate the adoption of appropriate functions.
Andreas von Gehlen is the author of ‘European Party Democracy? Institutional Preconditions and Functional Terms to Reduce the EU’s Democratic Deficit’.
Bibliography Featherstone, Kevin (1994). Jean Monnet and the “Democratic Deficit” in the European Union. Journal of Common Market Studies, 32, 149-170. Grams, Hartmut A. (1998). Zur Gesetzgebung der Europäischen Union – Eine vergleichende Strukturanalyse aus staatsorganisatorischer Sicht. Neuwied/Kriftel. Huber, Peter M. (2001). Die Rolle der nationalen Parlamente bei der Rechtssetzung der Europäischen Union – Zur Sicherung und zum Ausbau der Mitwirkungsrechte des Deutschen Bundestages. München. Höreth, Marcus (1999). Die Europäische Union im Legitimationstrilemma – Zur Rechtfertigung des Regierens jenseits der Staatlichkeit. Baden-Baden. Isensee, Josef (1992). Verfassungsrecht als „politisches Recht“. In Josef Isensee & Paul Kirchhof (Eds.), Handbuch des Staatsrechts der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Bd. VII: Normativität und Schutz der Verfassung – Internationale Beziehungen (pp. 103-162, § 162). Heidelberg. Kipping, Matthias (1996). Zwischen Kartellen und Konkurrenz – Der Schuman-Plan und die Ursprünge der europäischen Einigung 1944-1952. Berlin. Klein, Hans H. (2001). GG Art. 21, Lfg. 03.2001 (expanded February 2004). In Theodor Maunz & Günter Dürig (Eds.), 1980-2004: Grundgesetz Kommentar (Bd. III, Art. 1727). München. Leibholz, Gerhard (1960). Das Wesen der Repräsentation und der Gestaltwandel der Demokratie im 20. Jahrhundert. Berlin.
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Maurer, Andreas (2002). Europäisches Parlament. In Werner Weidenfeld & Wolfgang Wessels (Eds.), 2002: Europa von A bis Z – Taschenbuch der europäischen Integration (pp. 192-201). Bonn. Maurer, Andreas & Schild, Joachim (Eds.) (2003). Der Konvent über die Zukunft der Europäischen Union – Synoptische Darstellung zur Konventsdebatte, Bd. 2. Berlin. Nentwich, Michael & Falkner, Gerda (1997). The Treaty of Amsterdam: Towards a new institutional balance. In European Integration On-Line Papers. Niclauß, Karlheinz (2002). Das Parteiensystem der Bundesrepublik Deutschland – Eine Einführung. Paderborn/München/Wien/ Zürich. Simson, Werner von (1991). Was heißt in einer europäischen Verfassung „Das Volk“? Europarecht, 1, 1-18. Stentzel, Rainer (2002). Integrationsziel Parteiendemokratie – Rechtliche Rahmenbedingungen für eine Demokratisierung der Europäischen Union. Baden-Baden. Wallace, William & Smith, Julie (1995). Democracy or Technocracy? European integration and the problem of popular consent. West European Politics, 18, 137157. Weber, Max (1976). Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft – Grundriß der verstehenden Soziologie. Tübingen.
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Uniting the Centre-right of Europe: The Result of Historical Developments and Political Leadership By Alexis Wintoniak On its thirtieth anniversary, the European People’s Party (EPP) hardly resembles what it was at its foundation in 1976. With 73 parties from 36 countries, 18 heads of government and with the largest group in the European Parliament, it is today the leading political force in Europe. This strength is the result of an ongoing integration and enlargement process; the EPP is moving in parallel with developments in the European Union itself. On the structural side, the success of the EPP is the result of its capacity to integrate and unite all centre-right forces in Europe. Only a few years ago, there were still three centre/centre-right internationals in Europe: The European People’s Party (EPP), the European Union of Christian Democrats (EUCD) and the European Democrat Union (EDU). The successful integration of the EUCD and the EDU into the EPP is not only the result of historic developments but equally a testament to political will and leadership.
leaders was quite visible, led by charismatic figures such as Willy Brandt, Olaf Palme and Bruno Kreisky. The Socialist International did not leave behind many lasting achievements; however, it did create the impression of political dominance in Europe. On the other hand, the first direct elections to the European Parliament in 1979 were in sight, and both groups, the Socialists and the Liberals, were about to establish their organisations at the European level. It was within the EUCD that an association of Christian Democrat parties from EC countries first took shape. Finally, the EPP was formally established in spring 1976.
Compared with today’s EPP, this was a tiny group. The EPP counted only a handful of parties as its members as it limited itself to Christian Democrats and to parties from member countries of the EC. For this reason, it comprised at the beginning only ten full members from six countries. It was the German CDU and CSU that realised that the EPP in its original configuration would not be sufficient to achieve a majority in the European institutions.
How did it come about that there were originally three internationals on the centre-right? The Nouvelles Équipes Internationales (NEI) were founded in 1948. The NEI were not so much a federation of parties proper as a rather loose association of Christian Democrat politicians. The EUCD was founded in 1965 and facilitated a significant increase in party cooperation. However, the big step forward came in the mid1970s. For the centre-right it was high time to act: Socialists and Social Democrats governed most of the member countries of the European Community (EC). At the European and international levels, cooperation between their
It became obvious that an EPP without other centre and centre-right parties would never become the strongest force in Europe. Yet for ideological reasons, a large number of EPP and EUCD parties were reluctant to open up to nonChristian Democrat Parties; moreover, many Christian Democrats were also facing strong competition from conservative or like-minded parties in their own countries. Some of the Christian Democrat parties were also leaning more towards cooperation with the centre-left than to embracing the Liberals or Conservatives; this was reflected in the formation of various coalition governments at that time.
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The vision of a Third Way between communism and capitalism was still a live option for some Christian Democrat leaders. Christian Democrat parties from non-EC countries were not entitled to join the EPP; this was seen as discrimination against longstanding members of the Christian Democrat family. So there was a clear need for an alternative to the EPP as it was then constituted. On the one hand, the alternative needed to be a promising basis for a majority in European institutions, and on the other hand, it had to provide a home for the centre/centre-right parties outside the EC. Consequently, in addition to continuing to cooperate within the EUCD and the EPP, a number of Christian Democrat parties established regular contacts with Conservative parties from all over Europe. At inter-party conferences in the 1970s, centre-right leaders from Austria, Britain, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden and later also Spain and Portugal gathered on a yearly basis. This European-level platform provided the French Gaullists and the UK Conservatives with appropriate partners, and for the CDU and CSU, it opened the door to creating a structural majority at the EC-level. This was also the right platform for the Scandinavian Conservatives, who were neither eligible nor willing to join the EUCD. For the Austrian Peopleâ€™s Party, this arrangement compensated for being left out of the EPP. On 24 April 1978, the European Democrat Union was founded in Klessheim/Salzburg. From its very beginning, the EDU pursued a clear set of goals. The 1978 Klessheim Declaration had a strong credo: democracy, liberty, the rule of law and social solidarity. The EDU defined itself as the main counterpart to socialism and communism. While in domestic policy issues the EDU stood for a social market economy, at the international level it had a clear zero-tolerance policy towards the communists.
Different political cultures The EDU followed a different model of party cooperation than the EPP. The EPP has always considered itself a party per se with all the features a party should have: huge congresses with many activists, the election of its leading representatives ad personam rather than per member party, majority voting as the rule and party-weighted votes. The democratic principle was thus stressed as the norm. In general, the EPP has always sought to become independent of its member parties, creating its own identity and being represented publicly by its own EPP leaders. In the EDU, on the other hand, cooperation was strictly hierarchical: all decision-making powers were derived from the party leaders. The Party Leaders Conference was the supreme decision making body, electing the chair and adopting the joint EDU policies. All decisions were to be taken unanimously, even in the Steering Committee, which was composed of the Secretaries-General and International Secretaries of the member parties. The EDU Chairman had to be a party leader himself, and thus hold a strong position within the organisation. However, the EDU did not aim at becoming a political entity itself; rather, it was to serve as a vehicle for cooperation among its members. For many years the EPP has been dominated by the EPP Group in the European Parliament, with its huge personnel and financial resources and above all its political power, which is increasing in step with the growing power of the European Parliament. For this reason, the EPP has been â€˜Brussels dominatedâ€™, focusing primarily on developments within EU institutions and on the development of the EU itself. The political focus of the EPP was intertwined with the priorities of the EPP Group. By and large, the debate within the EPP was among leading members of the European Parliament. The main topics of the debate have always been long-range issues, above all institutional and constitutional matters and the ongoing reform of the European
Union, its enlargement and most recently the constitutional treaty. The terms of debate have always been set by the congresses of the EPP, with the preparation of the Congress manifestos and policy papers. Certainly European elections have regularly been the paramount concern of the EPP. By contrast, the EDU was not primarily focussed on developments in Brussels, but rather on developments in the capitals all over Europe. The EDU’s political work was rooted in its standing working committees established by the leaders of the member parties. The working committees were given a clear mandate, and the chairs of the Committees—appointed by the party leaders—had to report to the Leaders Meeting. The topics of the working committees were the most pressing issues of common concern, where the establishment of joint positions was badly needed. Traditionally, the party leaders established standing working committees on European policy, security policy, economic and social policy, domestic affairs and campaign management. The committees were composed of the official party representatives responsible for the respective policy area, usually the parliamentary spokesperson of the member parties. The policy papers and joint programmes established by the committees thus reflected the political views of the member parties as represented in their own national Parliaments.
a Western Balkan Democracy Initiative was established, providing for regular cooperation between democratic forces in South-East Europe and the EDU parties. In addition, the EDU founded a Pan-European Forum for regular cooperation with centre/centre-right forces in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and other successor states to the Soviet Union. There was also a considerable difference in human and financial resources. The EPP Secretariat has always aimed at becoming the de facto headquarters of the party. In addition to its considerable number of employees, the EPP also tried to incorporate affiliated associations such as the Christian Democrat International, the youth movement and the women’s organisation. Efforts were made to make the seat of the EPP a beacon for European and international Christian Democracy, first at Rue de la Victoire (where the name was the message) and then at Rue D’Arlon. The EDU Secretariat on the other hand was always small: not the headquarters but rather a clearinghouse to serve its member parties in their party-to-party cooperation. With only a limited number of part-time staff, the EDU drew on the member parties for its human resources—i.e. it drew from the SecretariesGeneral and International Secretaries of the member parties—thereby creating a Europeanwide network. The need to combine forces
In addition to the working committees, the EDU focused on the processes for building democracy in Europe. The EDU was the first transnational group to set up concrete programmes of support for the democratic forces in Central and Eastern Europe after 1989. As early as 1990, centreright parties from Central and Eastern Europe joined the EDU. This led to early membership in the EDU from all of today’s new EU member countries. After the Balkan wars of the mid-1990s, the EDU’s democracy building efforts focused on South-East Europe. Following numerous fact-finding missions to the Balkan countries,
At the time of their foundation in the 1970s, the separate tasks of the EPP and the EDU could easily be discerned: the EPP was there for cooperation among the Christian Democrats within the European Communities with an emphasis on EC issues, and the EDU was there to facilitate the European-wide cooperation of a broader ideological spectrum, i.e. Christian Democrats, Conservatives and like-minded groups. Two historic developments moved the two sets of tasks ever closer. The first of these was ideological rapprochement between the
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Uniting the Centre-right of Europe: The Result of Historical Developments and Political Leadership
Christian Democrats and Conservatives. The collapse of communism slowly but surely had an impact on political thinking in the Western democracies. The purist Christian Democrat ideologies, rooted in Italy and the Benelux countries, were in decline. On the other hand, with the departure of Margaret Thatcher and the subsequent decline of Thatcherism itself, and with the self-imposed isolation of the UK Conservatives from European issues, the other end of the centre-right spectrum also lost influence. The result was a general tendency to move towards the centre/centre-right. Moreover, following the EU enlargement of 1995, the entry of the conservative parties from Northern Europe into the European People’s Party marked the ideological breakthrough. Later the Forza Italia and the French RPR joined the EPP. Within the European Parliament, the EPP continued to form a group with the British Conservatives and later with additional Conservative parties from Central and Eastern Europe. Turning to the second of the two developments, the enlargement of the European Union in 2004 made the geographical division of labour between the EDU and the EPP superfluous. In the period leading up to their membership in the EU, the Christian Democrat, Conservative and like-minded parties from Central and Eastern Europe had already enjoyed practically full status within the EPP. Both elements, ideological rapprochement and membership convergence, called for the timely integration of the two organisations. A successful integration process Negotiations to bring about the closer cooperation of the centre-right parties have a long tradition. During the 1990s a number of initiatives were undertaken in order to avoid duplication in the activities of the EDU, the EUCD and the EPP. However, the organisations were still too far apart to achieve structural reforms. The 18th EDU Party Leaders Conference in Salzburg on 24–25 April 1998 brought new
impetus. Entitled ‘Towards the majority’, a new mission statement for the EDU was adopted by the EDU party leaders: The cooperation within the European Democrat Union has proved to be a success story: Parties of different traditional backgrounds, Conservative, Christian Democrat or like-minded centrist parties, from small or large nations, from Member States of the European Union and non-EU states have worked together for their joint principles. Communism and old-style socialism have been defeated on our continent, and it is our principles which have shaped European policy over the past years. However, there are new challenges. The socialist and leftist parties have moved their rhetoric to the centre, and new forms of populist parties and movements are gaining support. In many European countries, the EDU parties are again in opposition. This must be reversed. On the other hand, the European and international cooperation of the EDU parties is not yet sufficiently streamlined to maximise the potential of our parties. Apart from the European Democrat Union, many of the EDU members are also members of the European People’s Party and their corresponding groups in the European parliamentary institutions; others are members of the ‘Union for Europe’ in the European Parliament and the ‘European Democratic Group’ in the Council of Europe. The European Union of Christian Democrats still exists although it is currently being integrated into the EPP. Multiple memberships are a constraint on maximising the potential of EDU parties in the European cooperation, both in the political field where our opponents could take advantage of this fragmentation, and is a burden on the human and financial resources of the EDU members.
Twenty years after its foundation the EDU shall for that reason undertake a new effort to realise the principles of the Klessheim Declaration: to unite the Christian Democrat, Conservative and like-minded centrist parties and to merge the existing organisations in one new European party organisation, respecting the various identities and approaches of these European parties. The Party Leaders therefore ask the Chairman of the EDU to open consultations with national parties and other party organisations concerned and to prepare a report to the Party Leaders by September 1998. On this basis, the EDU leadership consulted with member parties and with the EPP Presidency. Two major options were discussed: either a formal merger (a combined organisation would be set up either by a founding congress of the EPP and the EDU or through constitutional acts by the respective EPP and EDU bodies) or a gradual merger, whereby the EDU and the EPP would be integrated step by step. It very quickly became clear that neither within the EPP nor within the EDU would the necessary majority be found for the big leap of a formal merger. Therefore, the first steps towards a gradual merger were taken by a joint agreement of the Presidencies of the European People’s Party and the European Democrat Union in September 1998. It was agreed that a single European organisation of the centre/centre-right would be the goal. First, the groups in the parliamentary bodies in Europe would merge: joint EDU/EPP working groups, seminars, conferences and fact-finding missions would become the rule; and the youth, women’s, business and senior citizens’ associations would also be merged. Furthermore, the presidiums and the secretariats of the two organisations would enter into closer cooperation. On this occasion, the EPP also reiterated its invitation to the French RPR to join its parliamentary group. In this regard one has to consider that only a few months prior, early in 1998, rumours had emerged that the Forza
Italia and the RPR were going to form a new European party based on their own group in the European Parliament. However, in light of the forthcoming European elections in June 1999, not much progress was achieved over the following months. Then, an agreement was reached in July 1999, whereby the UK Conservatives, the French RPR and the Forza Italia entered the EPP group. Certainly this would also have been the right time to sort out cooperation on the party level; however, time was short and the rapid formation of the parliamentary group was higher on the agenda. The successful formation of one group in the European Parliament comprising the member parties of the EPP and of the EDU made a merger of the two organisations more likely to become an integration of the EDU into the EPP. At their conference in Berlin on 16 September 1999, the EDU party leaders decided that, in addition to the continuation of joint EPP/EDU working committees, the decision-making bodies of the organisations should also cooperate as far as possible. Furthermore, the infrastructure of the two organisations should be shared, and the EDU Secretariat should be moved from Vienna to Brussels. This came into effect by April 2000. In the meetings of the EDU Steering Committee and the EPP Political Bureau in January and February 2000, the details of this closer cooperation were agreed upon. Whereas the decision-making bodies continued to operate independently—although dates, venues and agendas were harmonised—all working committees, conferences, seminars and factfinding missions became joint projects, and the secretariats started working together under one roof in Brussels. The EDU Party Leaders Conference and the EPP Congress in Berlin in January 2001 then decided on a joint working programme, setting up EPP/ EDU working committees on European policy, foreign and security policy, economic and social policy, campaign management and enlargement, as well as a Pan European Forum and a Western
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Balkan Democracy Initiative. These bodies were chaired by EPP and EDU nominees, and the respective decision-making groups of the EPP and the EDU agreed on common internal rules for these committees. It turned out that the gradual merger was moving towards the goal envisaged by the party leaders already back in 1998. The final step was taken at the EDU Party Leaders Conference in October 2002. The party leaders decided that the days of the â€˜oldâ€™ European Democrat Union had come to an end. They left open the possibility, however, that a political platform of the EDU might continue as an annual Party Leaders Conferences and as the European component within the International Democrat Union (IDU). However, the following months and years showed that the EDU parties felt comfortable with the new arrangement within the EPP. This provision did not lead, therefore, to the continuation of a separate organisation outside the EPP. Conclusions The European integration process is a success story, as is the inter-party cooperation on the centre-right. Starting from different ideological and geographical backgrounds, the EDU and EPP have merged into one powerful centre/centreright organisation in Europe. After a long process of rapprochement, the EPP has integrated the strengths of the EDU; cooperation is based on a broader ideological and geographical vision and on the individual national parties. This vision has sustained its close involvement in EU structures and policies and has also further developed its potential as a European party. This is the basis for a lasting majority in Europe.
Alexis Wintoniak, Executive Secretary of the EDU from 1996 to 2002 and Deputy Secretary General of the EPP from 2000 to 2002, is now the Chief of Cabinet of the President of the Austrian Parliament.
ANNEX: REGULATION (EC) NO 2004/2003 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 4 November 2003 on the regulations governing political parties at European level and the rules regarding their funding1
THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION, Having regard to the Treaty establishing the European Community, and in particular Article 191 thereof, Having regard to the proposal from the Commission, Acting in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 251 of the Treaty2,
The procedure to be followed by political parties at European level which wish to receive funding pursuant to this Regulation should be laid down.
Provision should also be made for regular verification of the conditions applied for identifying a political party at European level.
Political parties at European level which have received funding under this Regulation should submit to obligations aimed at ensuring transparency of sources of funding.
In accordance with Declaration No 11 on Article 191 of the Treaty establishing the European Community annexed to the Final Act of the Treaty of Nice, the funding granted pursuant to this Regulation should not be used to fund, either directly or indirectly, political parties at national level. By virtue of same declaration, the provisions on the funding of political parties at European level should apply, on the same basis, to all the political forces represented in the European Parliament.
The nature of the expenditure that can be funded under this Regulation should be defined.
The appropriations allocated to funding under this Regulation should be determined in accordance with the annual budgetary procedure.
It is necessary to ensure maximum transparency and financial control of political parties at European level funded from the general budget of the European Union.
A scale should be set for distributing the appropriations available each year, taking into account, on the one hand, the number of beneficiaries and, on the other, the number of elected members in the European Parliament.
Article 191 of the Treaty states that political parties at European level are important as a factor for integration within the Union and that they contribute to forming a European awareness and to expressing the political will of the citizens of the Union.
A number of basic rules should be laid down, in the form of regulations, for political parties at European level, in particular with regard to their funding. Experience acquired in applying this Regulation should reveal the extent to which these regulations should, or should not, be supplemented by further rules.
Experience has shown that a political party at European level will have as its members either citizens gathered together in the form of a political party or political parties which together form an alliance. The terms “political party” and “alliance of political parties” used in this Regulation should therefore be clarified. In order to be able to identify a “political party at European level”, it is important to set certain conditions. In particular, it is necessary for political parties at European level to observe the principles on which the European Union is founded, as set out in the Treaties and recognised in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.
Official Journal L 297 , 15/11/2003 P. 0001 - 0004 Opinion of the European Parliament of 19 June 2003 (not yet published in the Official Journal) and Council Decision of 29 September 2003.
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Technical assistance to be afforded by the European Parliament to political parties at European level should be guided by the principle of equal treatment.
The application of this Regulation and the activities funded should be examined in a report from the European Parliament which should be published.
The judicial control which falls within the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice will help ensure the correct application of this Regulation.
In order to facilitate transition towards the new rules, the application of some of the provisions of this Regulation should be postponed until the European Parliament has been formed after the elections due in June 2004,
HAVE ADOPTED THIS REGULATION: Article 1 Subject matter and scope This Regulation establishes rules on the regulations governing political parties at European level and rules regarding their funding. Article 2 Definitions For the purposes of this Regulation: 1. “political party” means an association of citizens: - which pursues political objectives, and - which is either recognised by, or established in accordance with, the legal order of at least one Member State; 2. “alliance of political parties” means structured cooperation between at least two political parties; 3. “political party at European level” means a political party or an alliance of political parties which satisfies the conditions referred to in Article 3.
A political party at European level shall satisfy the following conditions: (a) it must have legal personality in the Member State in which its seat is located; (b) it must be represented, in at least one quarter of Member States, by Members of the European Parliament or in the national Parliaments or regional Parliaments or in the regional assemblies, or
it must have received, in at least one quarter of the Member States, at least three per cent of the votes cast in each of those Member States at the most recent European Parliament elections;
(c) it must observe, in particular in its programme and in its activities, the principles on which the European Union is founded, namely the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law; (d) it must have participated in elections to the European Parliament, or have expressed the intention to do so. Article 4 Application for funding 1. In order to receive funding from the general budget of the European Union, a political party at European level shall file an application with the European Parliament each year. The European Parliament shall adopt a decision within three months and authorise and manage the corresponding appropriations. 2. The first application shall be accompanied by the following documents: (a) documents proving that the applicant satisfies the conditions laid down in Article 3; (b) a political programme setting out the objectives of the political party at European level; (c) a statute defining in particular the bodies responsible for political and financial management as well as the bodies or natural persons holding, in each of the Member States concerned, the power of legal representation, in particular for the
purposes of the acquisition or disposal of movable and immovable property and of being a party to legal proceedings. 3. Any amendment concerning the documents referred to in paragraph 2, in particular a political programme or statute, which have already been presented, shall be notified to the European Parliament within two months. In the absence of such notification, funding shall be suspended. Article 5 Verification 1. The European Parliament shall verify regularly that the conditions set out in Article 3(a) and (b) continue to be met by political parties at European level. 2. With regard to the condition specified in Article 3(c), at the request of one quarter of its members, representing at least three political groups in the European Parliament, the European Parliament shall verify, by a majority of its members, that the condition in question continues to be met by a political party at European level. Before carrying out such verification, the European Parliament shall hear the representatives of the relevant political party at European level and ask a committee of independent eminent persons to give an opinion on the subject within a reasonable period. The committee shall consist of three members, with the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission each appointing one member. The secretariat and funding of the committee shall be provided by the European Parliament. 3. If the European Parliament finds that any of the conditions referred to in Article 3(a), (b) and (c) is no longer satisfied, the relevant political party at European level, which has for this reason forfeited this status, shall be excluded from funding under this Regulation. Article 6 Obligations linked to funding A political party at European level shall: (a) publish its revenue and expenditure and a statement of its assets and liabilities annually; (b) declare its sources of funding by providing a list
specifying the donors and the donations received from each donor, with the exception of donations not exceeding EUR 500; (c) not accept: - anonymous donations, - donations from the budgets of political groups in the European Parliament, - donations from any undertaking over which the public authorities may exercise directly or indirectly a dominant influence by virtue of their ownership of it, their financial participation therein, or the rules which govern it, - donations exceeding EUR 12000 per year and per donor from any natural or legal person other than the undertakings referred to in the third indent and without prejudice to the second subparagraph. Contributions from political parties which are members of a political party at European level shall be admissible. They may not exceed 40 % of that partyâ€™s annual budget. Article 7 Prohibition of funding The funding of political parties at European level from the general budget of the European Union or from any other source may not be used for the direct or indirect funding of other political parties, and in particular national political parties, which shall continue to be governed by national rules. Article 8 Nature of expenditure Appropriations received from the general budget of the European Union in accordance with this Regulation may only be used to meet expenditure directly linked to the objectives set out in the political programme referred to in Article 4(2)(b). Such expenditure shall include administrative expenditure and expenditure linked to technical assistance, meetings, research, cross-border events, studies, information and publications.
Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 of 25 June 2002 on the Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities (OJ L 248, 16.9.2002, p. 1).
Volume 3 - Spring 2006
Article 9 Implementation and control 1. Appropriations for funding political parties at European level shall be determined under the annual budgetary procedure and shall be implemented in accordance with the Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities3. 2. The valuation of movable and immovable property and its depreciation shall be carried out in accordance with Commission Regulation (EC) No 2909/2000 of 29 December 2000 on the accounting management of the European Communitiesâ€™ non-financial fixed assets4 3. Control of funding granted under this Regulation shall be exercised in accordance with the Financial Regulation and the implementing rules thereto. Control shall also be exercised on the basis of annual certification by an external and independent audit. This certification shall be transmitted, within six months of the end of the financial year concerned, to the European Parliament. 4. Further to application of this Regulation, any funds improperly received by political parties at European level from the general budget of the European Union shall be refunded to that budget. 5. Any document or information required by the Court of Auditors in order to carry out its task shall be supplied to it at its request by the political parties at European level receiving funding granted under this Regulation. Where expenditure is committed by political parties at European level jointly with national political parties and other organisations, evidence of the expenditure incurred by the political parties at European level shall be made available to the Court of Auditors. 6. Funding of political parties at European level in their capacity as bodies pursuing an objective of general European interest shall not be subject to the provisions of Article 113 of the Financial Regulation relating to the decreasing of the funding. Article 10 Distribution 1. Available appropriations shall be distributed annually as follows among the political parties at European
OJ L 336, 30.12.2000, p. 75.
level which have obtained a positive decision on their application for funding as referred to in Article 4: (a) 15 % shall be distributed in equal shares; (b) 85 % shall be distributed among those which have elected members in the European Parliament, in proportion to the number of elected members. For the application of these provisions, a Member of the European Parliament may be a member of only one political party at European level. 2. Funding charged to the general budget of the European Union shall not exceed 75 % of the budget of a political party at European level. The burden of proof shall rest with the relevant political party at European level. Article 11 Technical support All technical support from the European Parliament to political parties at European level shall be based on the principle of equal treatment. It shall be granted on conditions no less favourable than those granted to other external organisations and associations that may be accorded similar facilities and shall be supplied against invoice and payment. The European Parliament shall publish details of the technical support provided to each political party at European level in an annual report. Article 12 Report The European Parliament shall publish a report not later than 15 February 2006 on the application of this Regulation and the activities funded. The report shall indicate, where appropriate, possible amendments to be made to the funding system. Article 13 Entry into force and application This Regulation shall enter into force three months following the date of its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.
Articles 4 to 10 shall apply from the date of the opening of the first session held after the European Parliament elections of June 2004. This Regulation shall be binding in its entirety and directly applicable in all Member States. Done at Brussels, 4 November 2003. For the European Parliament
For the Council
The President P. Cox
The President G. Tremonti
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Published on Feb 6, 2013