The EP 2014 Elections: Constitutional Change or Window-Dressing?

The constitutional expectations developed around the European elections of May 2014 were effectively quite high. Faced with a mounting crisis affecting their output legitimacy, European institutions had to strengthen their status through a different channel. Plausibly, this explains why the idea of enhancing input legitimacy gained ground within the EU and in some Member States’ constituencies. The elections of May 2014 (the first run after the introduction of the Lisbon Treaty) provided an ideal platform for giving a political impulse to EU lawmaking. Anticipated by articulated and solid proposals coming from academic circles and from European institutions, the solution was found through an agreement struck among the main European political parties for nominating a candidate to the President of the European Commission to be supported, in case of victory at the polls, before the European Council. The intuition behind this proposal was based on the idea that once put before the fait accompli, the Council could not refuse to ratify the decision of the European Parliament. This novelty was introduced as a two-fold opportunity: first, as a chance for enhancing the representative quality of EU lawmaking and, second, to move the relationship between Parliament and Commission toward a form of parliamentary government.

According to the former point, the proposal intended to inject into the Commission, that is the institution granted the monopoly of legislative initiative, a democratic impulse through a contest for the appointment of its head. In this way, the democratic input would be registered by the Commission and then echoed in the lawmaking process. So, for example, among other things, the indirect election of the President of the Commission was couched in terms of an opportunity to politicise the current Euro-predicament based on the politics of austerity ...

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