The Brief: Politicians Without Borders

The Brief: Politicians Without Borders
By Elena CavalloneMeabh McMahon
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In this edition we look at the wannabe MEPs who are standing for office in a foreign country. Greek former finance minister Yannis Varoufakis is campaigning in Germany, while Michel Barnier's son, Nicolas, is standing across the border from France in neighbouring Belgium.


A familiar face has popped up in a location less familiar. The former Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis is running in the European elections in Germany.

He is not the only personality crossing borders. Sandro Gozi from Italy was undersecretary for the left-wing government of Matteo Renzi. He has now joined the party set up by the French President Emmanuel Macron “La Republique en Marche”.

“We cannot have a European democracy if we don't have European transnational political forces. We are six European citizens candidates with a different nationality from the French one, it really embodies the idea of politics without borders," Gozi tells Euronews.

Among the cross-border candidates, there are also new faces with familiar names. Nicolas Barnier, son of the EU negotiator for Brexit, Michel Barnier. He has been invited to join the Belgian liberal party by Prime Minister Charles Michel himself. But the challenge now is convincing Belgian voters, who barely know him.

“Of course I am French but we can be patriots and Europeans, they are not two incompatible concepts. We have to bear in mind that voting for EU elections it is about voting a project rather than a person. Concerning my surname: me it’s me and my father is my father. He has his own commitments as I have mines," Barnier tells Euronews.

Currently, only four MEPs were elected outside their home country. In the 2019 EU elections there won’t be transnational lists, but this time there are at least 20 cross-border candidates.

But how likely are they to get a seat in the next European Parliament? Analyst Eric Maurice explains these cross-border candidacies have rather a symbolic importance for the European integration.

“Those cross-border candidates are rarely in the top position in the list to be elected, so the number of people that manage to get a seat at the European Parliament is too low to see which real differences they can bring, which added value they can bring to the work of the EP."

The idea of transnational lists was launched by French President Macron to reallocate the vacant seats left over from the UK's departure, but the idea has been rejected. And now, with the UK taking part in the elections, we might wait until 2024 for this initiative to become a reality.

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