Kauppi, Niilo and Shackleton, Michael and Costa, Olivier and Hix, Simon. (2004) The European Parliament; Taking Stock after the June 2004 Elections. [Review Essay]
[Introduction]. ON June 10-13, 2004, voters in the 25 member states elected a new European Parliament (EP). Five days later, governments agreed on a Constitution for the EU that reinforces the legislative role of the EP in numerous areas. This is a unique occasion to reflect on the evolution of dynamics within the European Parliament and on its relations with other EU institutions. This Forum gathers four recognized experts on the EP and European elections to take stock of changes and continuities in the practices of members of the EP. First, Niilo Kauppi analyzes the key features on the 2004 election campaigns, underscoring previous patterns: low turnout in elections instrumentalized as mid-term elections for the parties in government and the use of celebrities to gather the vote. Next, Michael Shackleton revisits the last five years to underline the evolution of the role of the EP in the institutional triangle with the Commission and Council. Its increased working relationship with the Council spurred by the co-decision procedure has the potential to leave the Commission less influential on shaping policy output. Olivier Costa focuses on the party dynamics within the EP during the last mandate. While confirming that voting patterns have not changed drastically, he observes some changes in coalitions. Finally, Simon Hix looks towards the future. In his view, although the June results have not significantly altered the partisan composition of the EP and the strength of the main parties, he points to the broader picture; a Center-Right Parliament working with a Council dominated by Center-Right governments and potentially a Commission with many Center-Left representatives. The overall Right-wing partisan balance of three major EU institutions may generate decisions reflecting an ideological standpoint much clearer to read and comprehend for the European voters in the 2009 elections.
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