17 May 2019

EU parliamentary democracy

How representative?

Sophia Russack

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To what extent does the European Parliament really represent EU citizens? This paper first briefly introduces the most crucial characteristics of the EP (with regards to its internal organisation, its rights and tasks, as well as the electoral procedure), and then highlights the most important differences between the EP and its national counterparts: how national parties translate into European groupings; the (dis)connection between the European executive and legislative branches; and electoral (dis)connections. Finally, it investigates the idea for institutional reform introduced to improve the representative character of the EP – the Spitzenkandidaten procedure. It finds that the attempt to transform the EU (as a hybrid sui generis entity) into a fully fledged parliamentary system does not make the EP a better representative of the EU electorate.

Sophia Russack is a Researcher at CEPS Institutions unit.

This paper is a chapter in the book Representative Democracy in the EU: Recovering Legitimacy which is published with Rowman & Littlefield International in May 2019, as part of the “Towards a Citizens’ Union” (2CU) project of the European Policy Institutes Network (EPIN), co-funded by the Erasmus+ Jean Monnet Programme of the European Commission.