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The Maastricht Diplomat

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[Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung] To what extent does transnationalism strengthen the EU?

Today the delegates of the European Parliament have come together to discuss suggestions for improving European Democracy, specifically improvements towards a reform of the current election system. The committee today strongly focused on the topic of transnationalism, which describes the range of economic, sociocultural, and political cross-border activities and practices that impact an individual’s sense of belonging. The overarching proposal introduced the combination of national and transnational voting lists.

At the beginning of the session, the French right-wing party Rassemblement National brought forward that most EU citizens, when asked where they are from, would refer to their home countries and not their membership to the EU. Supported by other right-leaning parties, the representatives advocated for the limited implementation of transnational involvement in the EU voting process. The Italian party Lega per Salvini Premier asserted that their party strongly disagrees with the belief that the European Union could be seen as “one big country” and emphasized the importance of national identity and the autonomy of member countries towards EU restrictions. Most right-leaning parties agreed with this assessment. The parties advocated for creating a subcommittee, acting as an advisory committee without a transnational voting list. Alongside the aforementioned concerns, representatives of smaller countries spoke out about the favours present in the EU voting process.

Left-leaning parties suggested that transnationalism can help increase the feeling of connectivity between voters and representatives. Highlighting that the disconnect between citizens and EU representatives is the leading cause of ever-decreasing voting turnout, said parties advocated strongly for transnational voting lists. In addition, left-leaning parties disagreed with the assumption that there could be a two-tier system between national and multinational delegates in the proposed approach. An inequality between different federal powers. Predominantly the German party “Bündnis 90/Die Grünen” pointed out the need for more voter diversity, the party advocated for the participation of younger engagement and higher women quotas.

At the current point in time, there are a large variety of different proposals for changes that could be implemented to solve issues relating to European identity and EU connectivity. However, the overall desire to work on this issue together and come to a compromise that benefits all nations is predominant throughout the room. Furthermore, regardless of political orientation, there is a clear aspiration towards implementing more digital voting methods and increased online education before elections. As time moves on we can expect compelling discussions about European identity and democracy in the EU.

- Penny Press, FAZ Correspondent on EU affairs


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