Insistence on mandatory thresholds dooms EU Electoral Act reform to failure

The reform of the EU Electoral Act is on the agenda of EU ministers tomorrow. But Germany’s insistence on introducing mandatory thresholds in the Act dooms the entire reform to failure.

According to the treaties, amending the EU Electoral Act requires not only unanimity in Council and the Parliament’s consent, but also “approval by the Member States in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements” (Art. 223 TFEU).

Germany is unable to approve an Electoral Act reform introducing mandatory thresholds due to its constitutional requirements. The Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) has repeatedly annulled legislation aimed at introducing mandatory thresholds for elections to the EU Parliament, and will do so again should the German government propose ratification of such amendments to the Electoral Act.

Mandatory thresholds violate the principle of proportional representation, the court has found. They do not have a significant impact on the European Parliament’s ability to function, while 2 million German votes for minority parties would not be represented in Parliament with a 2% threshold.

Since the amendments to the Electoral Act on the table go far beyond mandatory thresholds, including this one element dooms the entire reform to failure. Without Germany’s ratification, an Electoral Act reform will never come into force.

The German government argues that binding EU law would take precedence over the German constitution. But mandatory thresholds will never become EU law since the Constitutional Court will thwart any attempt to ratify such a decision.

Belgium is currently the only country vetoing mandatory thresholds, although several Member States have expressed criticism of non-compliance with the principle of subsidiarity, or of overstretching the legal basis on which the act is to be adopted.

Let us hope that Belgium will stand by its veto despite massive pressure and attractive “deals” on offer. Last-minute consultations are scheduled for today, reports De Standaard.

Read the Bundesverfassungsgericht’s press release explaining why a threshold is not constitutionally permissible

Politico reports on the proposed reform of the EU Electoral Act

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