The Treaty of Rome had in 1957 stipulated that members would be returned to the European Parliament according to a " uniform procedure". The strong resistance of national constitutional political orders hindered, however, the application of this rule.
It took more than twenty years for European elections to be held for the first time in 1979 by direct and universal suffrage. Another twenty and more years elapsed before proportional representation systems were in 1999 applied in all the 15 Member countries of the European Union. The Act of 1976 has been changed only in 2002 - after 26 years -, to institutionalize the proportional representation and to establish the common principles for the election of the Members of the European Parliament that the Treaty of Amsterdam had in 1997 introduced.
"The debate on the system of electing the members of the European Parliament" analyses the history of this 50 - year - old conflict of views, one of the most vehement to date in the entire course of Europe towards its unification.
The writer, Dr. George N. Anastassopoulos, a former Vice President of the European Parliament, is in a unique position to address this problem. As the rapporteur of the Parliament’s Institutional Affairs Committee, he had shaped up the European Parliament’s 1998 proposals, that four years later led towards amending the 1976 Act. In the words of Professor Dimitris Th. Tsatsos, MEP, the author has mainly worked with primary sources, not to mention the fact that he himself is somewhat of a primary source in this field.
Developments since 1948, are analyzed in this book. The study is not confined to the European Parliament’s proposals alone, but also covers national legislations. It establishes whether and to what extent the European Parliament determined these developments and which other European and national political, institutional and historical factors have contributed to the gradual shaping of a common European law to elect members to the European Parliament
To paraphrase the great contemporary expert of constitutional law, Peter Haberle, a "common European law culture of electoral procedure" has emerged. It is still limited to certain issues of electoral law and does not encompass all of them, but the common elements are neither few, nor insignificant. George N. Anastassopoulos is, however, convinced that major reforms are still needed to ensure a European Parliament more representative and therefore more legitimized, more competent to play an important role that befits a European Union which is more European, more democratic, more effective and closer to the European citizens.