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The European Parliament is big enough

4 February 2018

The European Parliament is big enough

We vote this week on a report which proposes that the 73 seats which will be vacated as a result of Brexit won't simply be given up.. Instead, 27 of them will be used to bring about a fairer division between the member states, while the rest will constitute a transnational European list. What this would mean for us in the Netherlands is that we would each have two votes, one for the Dutch national list and one for the European list. The Parliament in The Hague has already stated the official view that it would like to see the EP reduced to 678 seats.

If you look at the enormous buildings which house the European Parliament and the thousands of members of staff who work in them, you might find the need for such a reduction to be the only logical conclusion, but in the EP itself there remains a great deal of controversy. In the end the Parliament must come to an agreement with the Council, so what it votes for this week is not without meaning. The SP is against a European superstate, and against a megalomaniac European Parliament, so we've got our work cut out.

The europhiles have spotted their chance. In a federal Europe (or a better name for it would be the 'United States of Europe'), you'd have to have European political parties and a European Parliament elected on European lists. In every possible fashion the europhiles are trying, therefore, to weaken the position of national parties in the EP. So you have to go to a lot of trouble to be able to sit alongside a colleague from your own country during the plenary to discuss, for instance, how to vote. Most Dutch MEPs are spread here and there in the seats reserved for their European political groups. A new rule is that I can't even use the SP logo on posters advertising meetings which I organise in the Parliament. National parties are out, European political parties, which most people have still never heard of, are in.

The europhiles' dream is to see every European Political Party put forward a candidate for the presidency of the European Commission, just as happened in 2014. These lead candidates would then hold real debates on TV, as if they were the true representatives of the EU citizens. In 2014 hardly anyone watched these. The real debates took place between the candidates of the national parties. With their European lists, the europhiles want to take this a step further, with the European Political Parties having their own lists standing on their own platforms.

Over the next few days Anne-Marie Mineur and I will inform people via Twitter just what we will gain if we don't go along with this madness. A smaller EP could not only be more efficient by stripping away lots of unnecessary work, but also save much of the cost in salaries and equipment. Small parties wouldn't be the victims when 73 seats are vacated. The existing division wouldn't be touched, so the Netherlands would hold on to 26 seats. It's just that no additional seats would be added. And furthermore we wouldn't have the burden of 'super-MEPs' from a European list. That seems to me pure gain.

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