Constitué le 22 octobre 1958, le "Groupe de travail pour les élections européennes" a pour tâche d'étudier les difficultés relatives à l'organisation de l'élection de l'Assemblée parlementaire européenne au suffrage universel direct. En février 1959, le quotidien belge Le Soir reprend les explications du président du groupe de travail, Fernand Dehousse, justifiant un délai particulièrement long pour les travaux à peine amorcés.
On 22 October 1958, a working party on the European elections, chaired by Fernand Dehousse, is set up within the Political Affairs Committee of the European Parliamentary Assembly (EPA). On 30 April 1960, the working party submits to the EPA a collection of reports and documents relating to the Draft convention on the election of the Members of the European Parliamentary Assembly by direct universal suffrage, the general report of which is drawn up by Fernand Dehousse.
Owing to the six years of absence of any consideration by the Council of the draft convention on the election of the Members of the European Parliamentary Assembly by direct universal suffrage, in 1969, the European Parliament threatens the Council with bringing proceedings for failure to act before the Court of Justice under former Article 175 of the EC Treaty.
On 25 March 1972, the Committee of experts, chaired by senior parliamentarian, Georges Vedel, submits to the European Parliament its report on the problem of the increased powers of the European Parliament (EP).
In 1974, at a conference held in Austria on the economic and political situation in Europe, Otto von Habsburg, President of the International Paneuropean Union, argues in favour of the election of Members of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage.
At their meeting in Paris on 9 and 10 December 1974, the Heads of State or Government of the Nine decide that direct elections ‘could take place at any time in or after 1978’ and invite the European Parliament to submit new proposals to replace the draft convention adopted in 1960.
In this interview, Jacques Santer, former Member of the European Parliament, recalls the nature of the debates, held during the 1970s, on the election of Members of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage.