An analysis of the European Parliament’s
electoral arrangement(s).

A uniform procedure for the elections to the European Parliament?


Christiaan Ziccardi


submitted to obtain the degree of
Master in European Politics and Policies

Academic year 2004-2005

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven


Promoter: Prof. Dr. F. GOVAERTS
Second Reader: Prof. Dr. B. MADDENS

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Chapter 1: Historical analysis: where did it go wrong?

    A) The period leading up to the first European Parliament’s elections (1958 – 1979)

    B) What happened from 1979 until now?

    C) Conclusion


Chapter 2: An analysis of the political and legal aspects involved

    A) How does one account for forty years of standstill?

        Towards direct elections for the European Parliament

        Towards an electoral procedure for the elections to the European Parliament

    B) Is there more to it? The legal aspects: much ado about nothing?

    C) Conclusion


General conclusions


List of references


List of abbreviations



Executive summary


When one takes a closer look at the European Parliament’s elections, one notices that these are not carried out in accordance with a uniform procedure in all Member States of the EU. This is a peculiar situation, especially because the Treaty of Rome (1957) already provided a legal basis for the establishment of such a uniform procedure. In 2005, the only thing in place is a procedure based on common principles. This research project tries to find an answer to the question why there still is no uniform procedure in place.

First, an historical analysis has been undertaken to structure more than forty years of European Parliament and Council proceedings. Second, a division has been made between two important sides of the story. On the one hand, the political (also philosophical) aspects, i.e. forces and mind-settings, that had a negative influence on events, had to be uncovered. On the other hand, it became clear that a seemingly hidden reason for the standstill had to be taken into account as well, namely the legal aspects of the story.

In the end, it became clear that certain governments and political factions, in combination with a legal battle over the meaning of art. 138 ECT, were the chief reasons for failure. The battle over this issue, at least until now, has been won by forces that put their so-called intergovernmental opinion before the original meaning of a uniform procedure. These forces had all the opportunities to do so. They exploited all legal and procedural options at their disposal and they took advantage of the inherent weaknesses of the European Parliament and its relationship with Council, such as the absence of European political parties, to name just one.


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