Daniel Cohn-Bendit, co-chair of the Green/EFA group and one of the frontmen of the federalist Spinelli Group, called for primaries to be held one year ahead of the 2014 European elections to choose candidates for the next European Commission president.
An alliance of Liberals, Socialists, Greens and Communists should organise a primary in 2013 to choose a candidate to succeed to José Manuel Barroso, he said yesterday (26 March).
Cohn-Bendit called the alliance a "pact for social and ecological democratisation of Europe".
"We don't need to ask anyone," he said, referring to other proposals aimed at giving legitimacy to the selection of Barroso's successor.
Cohn-Bendit said that if the alliance would have the majority in the 2014 election, leaders of EU countries could still propose candidates, but the only candidate who could pass in Parliament would be the one chosen through primaries.
The next year should create "a democratic space" in Europe, said Cohn-Bendit, who spoke at a Spinelli event at the Université Libre de Bruxelles.
He admitted that the number of voters likely to participate in the primaries would be low – between six and ten million people of an estimate 260 million.
Speaking at the same event, ALDE group leader Guy Verhofstadt said the European People's Party (EPP) could also organise primary elections. But some EU countries to not have a tradition of holding primaries, he conceded.
Verhofstadt outlined the various ideas in preparation for the 2014 elections. On the transnational lists (see background), he said there was "a lot of opposition also inside the European Parliament".
The two largest political groups, the centre-right EPP and the centre-left S&D, reportedly oppose transnational lists.
Verhofstadt said an alternative to the transnational list would be to give candidates the possibility to run in several national constituencies. The third possibility he outlined was to decide that the next Commission president would chosen from amongst the MEPs.
Regarding the need to increase the turnout at the European elections, Verhofstadt pleaded for a European tax to be paid by all EU citizens, which in his view will make them more responsible and more interested in the EU elections.