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EDP MEPs tell us why they chose to fight for Europe

"Languages, cultures, regional differences and local initiatives must be cherished because they are Europe’s strongest asset."

A Threat to our Diversity

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In the summer of 2018 the European Parliament, albeit with a great division in the plenary, approved a recommendation that affects Member States where more than 35 MEPs are elected. States are allowed to set a limit that removes parties that do not reach 2-5% representation at state level from the distribution of seats.

The rule was designed, in theory, to make it more difficult for small anti-system parties to gain access to the European Parliament, but it overlooked the "small detail" that in some of the Member States concerned, applying such ceilings is completely inconsistent with their own territorial structure and constitutional provisions. In Spain, for example, the legislation regulating the European elections disregards the distribution of territorial and legislative power that derives from the state of the autonomous regions. Thus, in what is presented as the "most decentralised state in Europe" there is only one constituency in which regional options have to form coalitions to achieve representation.

This incoherence also ignores that the same constitution distinguishes between nationalities and regions, and not by chance. In Spain there are territories such as Catalonia or the Basque Country, with their own languages, with powerful institutions stemming from a long history and with an economic structure very different from that of the state in which they are integrated. Political maps in which options that seek to preserve a national identity that is part of the diversity of the Union and which is expressly protected by our Charter of Fundamental Rights govern and win in all elections. Territories such as the Basque Country that even meet the three requirements that Community doctrine requires to recognise a sovereign public treasury: institutional, regulatory and economic autonomy.

Well, one of the effects of this reform, disguised as pro-European, although it has eliminated the transnational lists and the spitzenkandidate proposal, is to leave this national, institutional, linguistic, cultural and economic diversity without a voice in Strasbourg. Thus, political organisations that add up, that also have a long Europeanist trajectory and that are, like EAJ-PNV, founding partners of the Union, could be left out of the European Parliament. The demographic weight of their territories makes it materially impossible for them to achieve that level of representation in a single constituency.

Trying to ignore what is and exists, marginalising it, removing it from institutional life with tricks of this kind, leads to conflict. There are those in the Union who would be happy to apply this "solution" to get rid of all those who do not confirm their uniform and nationalist vision of the state identity they profess. Fortunately, there are those in the EDP who know that to deny space to these realities is to turn our back on the motto of our Union. On the basis of recognition and respect, let us defend proposals and ideas to ensure that the voice of all our diversity can continue to be heard in the European Parliament.

Izaskun Bilbao Barandica