On Request: What happens with the Lisbon MEPs?
This document is conveniently structured into three parts: Background stuff, bureaucratic landmarks from the past year, and what needs to happen in the next weeks or months for the situation to be resolved completely (furthest down).
Anvazher on Twitter cautiously reminded me yesterday that maybe I should write about the Lisbon situation. It’s about three weeks to go until a decision on the Lisbon MEPs is to be taken on my future, so now is probably a good time.
The background is as follows: the Treaty of Lisbon came into effect on December 1st 2009. The Treaty enlarges the scope of the parliament’s powers, as well as changes the numbers of representatives from 736 to 751. The way the seats are allocated is also changed, so that it is no longer proportional – the number of MEPs is now static.
With this new system, and the present number of member states, the Lisbon treaty allocates two extra MEPs to Sweden, social democrat Jens Nilsson, and Piratpartiets Amelia Andersdotter (me). We have been waiting for 9 months to have the promises of democracy fulfilled. I get approximately 3 questions per week since December 2009 from concerned voters asking what is happening.
This is what has happened:
- The European institutions Parliament and the Consilium had to make new transition protocols (a set of documents describing how the transition between the treaties needs to happen). The old protocols were valid for the period 2004-2009, and the new ones are valid for 2009-2014. This took some time and deliberations before an agreement was reached in the parliament on May 5th 2010. The consilium approved the new rules on June 17th 2010 and the new rules are now entirely formalized since June 24th 2010.
- Since the new transition protocols are now in place, the Conference of Presidents of the Parliament can decide that the Lisbon MEPs get to be observers starting immediately. They can also set a time frame for the observer status to granted. Or, in the very worst of scenarios, decide that the decision should be postponed! They convene during the first Strasbourg session in September 2010, probably on September 8th. The CoP is a ”high” administrative body inside the European Parliament consisting of the president of the parliament, presidents and vice-presidents of the political groups, and some administrative staff.
- All the Phantom MEPs could now be made into observers in a jiffy – we only need a brief ”aye” in the Council of Presidents meeting.
- National parliaments still have to approve the transition protocols. When all national parliaments have signed the new transition protocols, me and my phantom MEP colleagues will be full MEPs. Until that time we will only be observers, which is basically the same thing as a full MEP except we don’t get to vote in committees and plenary.
This is what needs to happen:
- The Conference of Presidents should be urged to let the already assigned Lisbon MEPs into the Parliament to start working as soon as possible.
- National parliaments need to be urged to sign the transition protocols at soonest possible opportunity. When I have asked Swedish members of elected bodies, it seems Sweden is planning to do this as soon as the parliament opens this autumn.
- If you happen to be a French person, that is actually an awkward special case: In December 2009, Nicolas Sarkoszy proposed that the two French slots should be filled by one conservative parliamentarian and one socialist parliamentarian, promoted from the French national parliament. The French Greens were upset, because the election results pointed towards one green and one conservative. The French socialists have considered the Sarkoszy proposal to be undemocratic and have therefore minority blocked the proposal in the French parliament since January 2010. This French situation is still not resolved, but a speedy resolution to the conflict would greatly increase the chances for a quick transition towards more European democratic authority.