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Events, Awards and Grants

The elections to the European Parliament, a step forward in the creation of European citizenship?

The study awarded by the "Catalunya Europa Siglo XXI" Prize analyzes the success of the elections to the Legislative Assembly when it comes to democratizing the EU.

The elections to the European Parliament in 2014 were exceptional. For the first time, the candidates of the community parties competed in an electoral campaign throughout the continent. And a majority of deputies elected the president of the Commission. A process that has served to make the Community Legislative function like any national Parliament, helping to democratize the EU. Making the citizens of the Union feel this House as their own, however, will be more complicated. These are some of the conclusions of the winning work of the IV Edition of the "Catalunya Europa Siglo XXI" Prize, organized by the Fundació Catalunya Europa (FCE). The guard has the support of Fundació Banc Sabadell.

Antoni Castells, president of the Advisory Council of the FCE, yesterday conducted the award ceremony, held in the European Classroom, headquarters of the European Institutions in Barcelona. The event also served to organize the debate "The Democratic Upset: European Response or National Reflection?", With Javier Solana, president of ESADE Center for Global Economy and geopolitical; Carlos Carnero, managing director of the Alternativas Foundation; and Carme Colomina, journalist of the newspaper ARA and researcher associated with CIDOB. The speakers pointed in a direction similar to that of the award-winning study: there is progress in the integration of the community club, to face the challenges facing the Union.

The "Catalunya Europa Siglo XXI" Prize aims to give recognition to applied research work that helps to understand and understand the challenges facing the European Union. This is the case of the winning document, "Of Spitzenkandidaten and European Leaders: The 2014 EP Presidential Campaign in the context of the EU legitimization process". Its author is Francesco Camonita, PhD student in Geography and European Cross-Border Cooperation at the UAB. Camonita stressed the value of the elections, as it was the first time that "the European Parliament launched a campaign autonomously." European parties got used to functioning as their equivalents in the States, organizing electoral campaigns around their list heads. And the president of the Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, was elected with the majority of votes in the House, although "the United Kingdom and other states tried to torpedo the process".

Did the elections serve to politicize European citizenship? Camonita was cautious. The elections, he recalled, have not served to increase participation. The key, he said, will be in the 2019 elections: it would be necessary for the electoral campaign to acquire greater relevance to the press and European issues to center the public agenda.

In a similar direction, Castells said, who highlighted "the role of the European elections in forming a community executive, over and above national interests." The president of the FCE Advisory Board moderated the debate, putting on the table the "multiple challenges" facing the EU: the eurozone and refugee crises or Brèxit are some. "Given these challenges, some propose more integration, others a national retreat", described Castells. The logic of the elections in the States does not help either: "it makes Europe not present, or it is for damage". What to do then? For him, the solution is obvious: "States lose sovereignty before the markets, Europe is the answer".

Carnero recalled the novelty of the European project, "the first supranational democracy". And he was optimistic: "In the face of challenges, supranational democracy in the EU has been perfected". With the Lisbon Treaty, decisions require the support of the European Parliament, in addition to the European Council and the European Commission. And, "after the 2014 elections, coalitions [between parties] to the European Parliament are already official, giving rise to a government" to the Commission, he recalled. Much remains to be done - transnational, non-state lists, community elections, that the type of constituency does not change depending on the country - but progress has been made towards integration. Carnero also demanded "a new convention" to go in this direction.

Colomina, however, was more skeptical. Former correspondent in Brussels, he perceives an interest of state executives in making decisions alone, in an "intergovernmental" manner. The economic crisis also leads to a "paradox": "We are more aware [as citizens] of the role of the EU, but we are not aware of a common destiny". For the researcher of the CIDOB, the roots of the problem are in the rejection of France and Holland to the European Constitution. In "treating Euroscepticism as criticism in the EU", and in "the inhibition of the institutions of the Union in the face of populism". The journalist of the newspaper ARA demanded "more political initiative" to the European institutions, "to face the national withdrawal of the States".

For Solana the disenchantment is born of the crisis, austerity and the destruction of jobs. "How can a youth who is unemployed, and who sees no advantages in the Union, be transmitted to Europe?" He asked. And he asked that the EU work to recover consumption. "Draghi [ECB president] has already done some of that" by lowering interest rates and pulling the quantitative stimulus program, he added. For Solana, the defense policy is another opportunity to show citizens the usefulness of the European project: "It would have made more sense for us to act jointly in Syria, because it is less expensive and because it affects our internal and external security". A united Europe can better manage the arrival of refugees. But also face the challenges of terrorism. And help solve the conflict.


Democracy  Elections  Europe  Award