Progressive European Affairs Ministers in favor of Common Candidate
Progressive European Affairs Ministers backed the idea of a common candidate for the next European elections in 2019. S&D MEP Jo Leinen presented his report on the reform of the EU electoral Law. The participants agreed that the common candidate’s process (Spitzenkandidaten) is an important part of the review as it represents a major improvement in building a European democracy.
The idea of the Spitzenkandidaten was launched by the Socialists and Democrats prior to the EU elections in 2014, and now is the time the idea to be included in the new European electoral law.
“We think that the European Union should proceed as quickly as possible with reforming the European electoral law and we strongly support the idea that each European political party should have its spitzenkandidat”, said Harlem Désir, French Minister of State for Europe and chair of the PES GAC Ministers network.
MEP and co-rapporteur of the report of the EU electoral law reform Jo Leinen stated: "The European party families and their lead candidates should be able to gain more visibility in the 2019 European elections, thus strengthening the European dimension and fostering transnational debates during the election campaigns. In this regard the European Parliament's proposal for a reform of the electoral law offers a unique opportunity that should not be wasted. By indicating the connection between a national party and its associated European party family on the ballot paper, European citizens would be more informed about the effects of their vote, which as a consequence would render the elections more transparent and democratic. In order to allow the improvements to apply already during the next elections, the member states in the Council have to find a common position swiftly and enter into negotiations with the European Parliament."
The Ministers also discussed the strengthening of fundamental rights and democracy, and prepared in advance of the June European Council.
Harlem Désir stated: "European Fundamental Rights and rule of law must be respected by all. These values are the drivers of our communities and the European Union at large. We must do our best to preserve them and ensure their equal and fair implementation across the continent. Intolerance and xenophobia must not be accepted. Our political family condemns any attempt to brake constitutional rules and fully supports the work of the European Commission and its First Vice President Frans Timmermans to efficiently solve the constitutional crisis in Poland."
In the context of the migration crisis, French Minister also added: "As Social-Democrats, we also recall that our common responsibility is to ensure that Europe welcomes in decent conditions those who are in need of international protection and that every member states contributes to the effort in due proportion of its capacities. If we renounce to this solidarity, the sustainability of the whole political response we have worked on will be endangered."
The PES GAC Ministerial meeting was attended by:
Harlem Désir Minister of State for European Affairs, France
Tomas Prouza, State Secretary on EU Affairs, the Czech Republic
Michael Roth, Minister of State for Europe, Germany
Sandro Gozi, State Secretary for European Affairs, Italy
Ian Borg, State Secretary for European Affairs, Malta
Margarida Marques, State Secretary for European Affairs, Portugal
Ivan Korčok, State Secretary for Foreign and European Affairs, Slovakia
Hans Dahlgren, State Secretary for Foreign and EU Affairs, Sweden
Jo Leinen, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group
Josef Weidenholzer, Vice President of the S&D Group at the European Parliament
Javier Moreno, Secretary General of the S&D Group in the European Parliament
Yonnec Polet, Deputy Secretary General, PES
Marije Laffeber, Deputy Secretary General, PES