Two decades of European Parliament observation missions

| November 22, 2014 | 0 Comments

EU-parliament-ANP-29-5-09The European Parliament is not only the EU’s only directly elected institution, but it also does its best to promote democracy outside Europe. This year marks 20 years of European Parliament involvement in election observation. Last year the Parliament sent delegations to observe elections in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Honduras, Jordan, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Nepal, Pakistan, Paraguay and Tajikistan. In recent months MEPs participated in missions to Egypt, Tunisia and Ukraine.

About the observation missions
Since 1994 the European Parliament has worked to strengthen the legitimacy of national elections and to increase public confidence in elections in countries outside the EU. The Parliament can send delegations of MEPs to observe elections or referendums on the condition that the polls are held at the national level, that national authorities have invited the EU or the European Parliament, and that a long-term mission is present. MEP delegations normally form part of the wider EU Election Observation Mission (EOM). When there is no EU mission present, Parliament’s delegations are integrated into the missions of the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.

Ukraine

Fourteen MEPs observed the  parliamentary elections in Ukraine on 26 October. The delegation was headed by Andrej Plenković, who judged the elections to have been in line with international standards. Plenković called election observation “one of the best examples of Parliament’s commitment to supporting the development and consolidation of democracy, the rule of law and human rights in third countries”. The Croatian member of the EPP group added:  “The participation of members in election observation activities increases the European Parliament’s political added value and visibility in countries outside the EU and further enhances the democratic legitimacy of the election observation process.”

Tunisia

Michael Gahler, a German member of the EPP group, headed a seven member delegation to oversee parliamentary elections in Tunisia last month. He will also lead a mission to observe the Tunisian presidential election on 23 November. “Our observation on the ground, our presence over election day together with the EU long-term mission demonstrate the importance that we attach politically to the democratic process in the country concerned,” he said.

Moldova
MEPs gave their consent to the EU-Moldova association agreement earlier this month. Parliament will now send a seven strong delegation to observe parliamentary elections there on 30 November. The head of that mission will be Igor Šoltes. The Slovenian member of the Greens/EFA group said: “Parliamentary observation missions should only take place in parallel and cooperation with long term observation missions of international organizations, since alone they cannot be effective and lack the overall picture indispensable to express a balanced evaluation of the election process.” Šoltes said that one area in which Parliament’s missions are currently lacking is the follow-up to elections: “[Delegations] should also monitor the post-electoral period making sure that all the shortfalls and the critical remarks highlighted in the final evaluations are duly addressed by the authorities of the countries concerned”. He added that delegations have on occasion contributed to defusing tension in pre-conflict situations.

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Category: A Frontpage, EU, EU, European Parliament