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June 12, 2024

Daily Legal Current – 12 June 24 : European Union Elections-2024: About degressive proportionality

Why in News? The European Union Elections were recently  held from 6-9 June 2024.

In European elections, citizens of European Union countries elect their representatives as Members of the European Parliament (MEPs).

The number of MEPs elected from each EU country is agreed before each election and is based on the principle of degressive proportionality, which means each MEP from a larger country represents more people than an MEP from a smaller country. The minimum number of MEPs from any country is six and the maximum number is 96.

  • A total of 720 MEPs will be elected in June 2024, 15 more compared to the previous elections.
  • As a general rule, the number of MEPs is decided before each election. The total cannot exceed 750 plus the president

Eligibility Conditions for Voting in European Parliament Elections 

Voting Age Requirements: In 21 member states, people aged 18 and above can vote.

  • In Belgium, Germany, Austria and Malta,the minimum voting age is 16. 
  • InGreece, people who turn 17 during the election year can vote
  • In Hungary, married individuals can vote regardless of age

 EU Voting Abroad Rules: EU citizens can vote in their country of origin or from abroad.  Voting from abroad is permitted in all member states except Czechia, Ireland, Malta and Slovakia.

  • In Bulgaria and Italy that right applies only to those living within the EU.
  • Citizens living in another EU country can choose to vote for candidates either from their country of origin or from their country of residence.
  • One-Country Voting Rule:The voter has to choose which country’s MEPs he or she will vote for, but it is not legal to vote in both countries at the same time.

About the European Parliament (EP):

The European Parliament (EP) is the only directly elected body of the EU, representing the citizens of its member states.

Power :

Lawmaking: The Parliament shares legislative power with the Council of the EU. Together, they approve EU laws based on proposals from the European Commission. They don’t have the sole right to initiate legislation, but they can request the Commission to propose new laws.

International Agreements: The Parliament has a say in international agreements the EU makes with other countries.

EU Enlargement: The Parliament needs to approve any new countries joining the European Union.

Budgetary Power:

EU Budget Approval: The Parliament, along with the Council of the EU, controls the EU budget. They have to agree on how the EU spends its money each year.

Supervisory Power:

Oversight: The Parliament keeps an eye on all EU institutions, especially the European Commission, which acts as the EU’s executive branch. MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) can approve or reject the appointment of Commissioners and even censure the entire Commission if necessary.

 Additional Functions:

Represents EU Citizens: The Parliament is the only EU body directly elected by EU citizens. MEPs act as a voice for the people, ensuring the EU functions democratically.

Human Rights Champion: The Parliament promotes human rights both within the EU and internationally.

 About  European Council :

  • The European Council sets the EU’s political direction and priorities.
  • Members: It includes the heads of state or government from member countries, the Presidents of the European Council and European Commission, and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs.
  • Founding: Established as an informal summit in 1975, it became an official institution with the Treaty of Lisbon in 2009. Decisions are made by consensus.

About degressive proportionality:

Degressive proportionality is a way of allocating seats in a decision-making body, like the European Parliament, that aims to balance representation between larger and smaller regions.

Basic Principle: While population is a factor, smaller regions get a bit more weight than their strict population size would dictate.

Disproportionate Benefit: This means that each person in a smaller region has a slightly greater chance of being represented by an MEP (Member of the European Parliament) compared to someone in a larger, more populous region.

Not Strictly Proportional: It’s not a perfect reflection of population size, but a compromise between strict proportionality (which would favor larger regions) and equal representation for all regions (which wouldn’t account for population differences).



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