Close the Gap
Close the Gap
Millions of British voters feel disengaged from European affairs. So how can we close the gap?
We have 12 practical recommendations. Read our full report here
Nearly three-quarters believe their voice doesn't count in the European Union, and over two-thirds don't trust it. Perhaps that's why turnout at the last European election was just 34%.
All of this amounts to a genuine 'democratic deficit', and it's something we are determined to tackle. With talk of renegotiation in the air, we have launched a new project to explore what can be done about it.
1. Adopt 'green cards', so national parliaments can come together to instigate European legislation, and 'red cards' so they can block it
2. The UK Parliament should be able to scrutinise the Government's negotiating position before Council meetings as well as after
3. The UK Parliament should 'mainstream' European policies by sending legislation to the appropriate commitee depending on the policy area
4. Westminster should organise a Speaker's Conference on strengthening Parliament's role in EU democracy, and take proposals forward to a pan-European conference of parliaments
5. Give devolved parliaments and assemblies the ability to hold UK ministers to account at EU negotiations, and devolved ministers the right to participate in Council meetings
6. Parliament and the UK Government should put in place mechanisms for giving citizens a direct say in the shaping of EU legislation
Improving the European Parliament
7. The decampment of the European Parliament to Strasbourg should end
8. The introduction of a candidate-centred, proportional system should be adopted for the UK elections to the European Parliament. We strongly advocate the Single Transferable Vote, but an open-list system would be an improvement on the current closed-list system
Making the European Commission More Accountable
9. The European Council should under no circumstances over-rule the candidate model of electing a Commission president for the 2014 election, but should negotiate with European political parties on a clearer set of rules for future elections
10. In the long term the Commission should shrink in size. The next Commission should aim to divide Commissioners into 'seniors' and 'juniors'
Making Political Parties More Representative
11. Political parties should seek to improve gender representation in the European Parliament by increasing the number of female candidates they put forward for election in winnable positions
12. Parties should attempt to recruit candidates with a wider range of views on Europe. EU policy affects agriculture, trade and almost every other area of British public life, and this should be emphasised when recruiting candidates