EU citizenship confers the right to stand in elections to the European Parliament outside your home member state, explains Roger Casale.
One of the rights that EU citizenship confers on European nationals includes the right to stand in elections to the European Parliament outside your home member state.
Few Europeans have yet availed themselves of this opportunity to represent their fellow Europeans. One of the first, and up to now most well-known examples is Daniel Cohn-Bendit who has been an MEP in both France and Germany at different stages of his career.
There are signs, however, that there will be more such transnational candidates in the forthcoming European elections which will take place in May 2019.
Smaller, newer parties in particular, are looking to make their mark and underline their European credentials by fielding candidates who carry a different national passport to the majority of citizens they seek to represent.
In Italy, where nationalist parties such as the LEGA have seen a surge in support to over 40%, traditional pro-European parties such as the Democratici di Sinistra are still trying to find their bearings.
Into this new situation, new more adamantly European parties are starting to emerge, looking to win over some of the voters who fled to parties such as the Five Star Movement in search of a new political home.
Many of these voters simply found, as Enrico Letta, the former Prime Minister said recently about Brexit “that the solutions on offer were not as attractive as the brand”.
"Few Europeans have yet availed themselves of this opportunity to represent their fellow Europeans. One of the first, and up to now most well-known examples is Daniel Cohn-Bendit who has been an MEP in both France and Germany at different stages of his career"
I now live in Italy and run a Europe-wide civil rights organisation (New Europeans) which champions European citizenship and a vision of a Europe “transformed through the participation of its citizens in every aspect of decision-making which touches their lives.
"I would love to have the opportunity to stand as a candidate in the elections to the European Parliament in Italy. There is a proud tradition in Italy of trusting the outsider – not being a part of any one group would give me a free hand to truly represent the interests of the community as a whole."
As to which party to run for, I am an Anglo-European Italophile and am open to offers but, last week I was in Rome at a high level meeting with representatives from the pro-European and transnational Party of the Citizens of Europe (PACE).
It’s not just the small parties though that could be recruiting non-national citizens to represent them. Marie-Noelle Loewe grew up in Germany but is thinking of standing for La République en Marche. A former board member of New Europeans in the UK, she decided to leave London after the referendum vote.
She moved from Brexit Britain to France as she is a very convinced European. She says she knows the EU is far from perfect and needs to be reformed but, to her, France has become the centre of European reform, and Paris has the potential to become a truly European capital. She thinks there is a place in the European elections for a truly European candidate.
Of course when the next European elections are called, it will not be clear whether Britain will be included in them or not. Yet if Italian voters still want a Brit to represent them in the European Parliament, will they still be able to vote for that person? That’s an interesting question in itself?
About the author:
Roger Casale is the secretary general of New Europeans
Reproduced by kind permission: