1 January 2005

To overcome claims of a 'democratic deficit', European elections should contribute to the formation of the European Commission.


Julie Smith


For a quarter of a century Europe's citizens have been able to elect Members of the European Parliament. Yet, rather than generating interest in European political affairs, EP elections have been characterized by low turnout and a focus on national rather than European affairs. At the same time, there are claims that the European Union is suffering from a 'democratic deficit'. What can be done to overcome these problems?

This Special Paper argues that European elections should contribute directly to the formation of the European Commission, a key part of the Union's executive. This could be done by direct or indirect election of the Commission President or the whole College of Commissioners, depending on whether one favours a parliamentary or a presidential system of government.

Dr Julie Smith is Deputy Director of the Centre of International Studies, University of Cambridge, a fellow of Robinson College, Cambridge, and an Associate Fellow of Chatham House.