A briefing by Stéphane Ridou, EU project manager at CAAC.
Participation of European citizens for the election of the EU Parliament is expected to be lower than the last ballot, issue confirmed by opinion pollsters. In 2009, the turnout reached 43%. While higher levels were observed in the same elections of 2004 (45.5%) and 1999 (49.5%), the rate has been decreasing since then.
More interested by national concerns, voters might once again be absent of the polling boxes while the importance of European MPs has been growing throughout the years. We may highlight three major reasons to encourage undecided voters:
1. The decisions of the EU Parliament do have an impact on our daily lives
About one-third of the laws and regulations applied in the 28 countries of the EU are issued from European texts; sometimes exceeding 50%. Since 2009, the Parliament has seen its power of co-decision extended to more than 40 new areas, such as energy, environment, agriculture, transportation, public health or justice.
Currently it must also approve the international agreements negotiated by the European Commission. In other words, the MPs have a real control check on the policies launched by the EU. Therefore, trough the ballot box, more than 400 million European citizens have the opportunity to determine the political majority of the Parliament and play a direct part in one of the greatest democratic events in the world.
2. This election will also decide the president of the European Commission
Among the issues at stake, the relation between the people and its representatives takes a significant place. Besides the MPs, the decision makers of other institutions are not elected but nominated. However, this 2014 election brings something new. For the first time, European political parties have designated a candidate to the position of President of the Commission. He or she will then run for presidency and submit its candidacy to the majority vote of the European Parliament. This new system, established by the Treaty of Lisbon in 2009, undertakes a major change in the nomination of the Head of the Commission. In addition, EU Commissioners will also be submitted to the approval of the MPs.
3. The growing importance of isolationism
With a high rate of unemployment, austerity measures and debate about immigration, many Europeans tend to move towards nationalist parties to find answers to their problems. The ground is fertile for individualism and many voices have been raised throughout European countries asking for a turnback to the time when there was no union between members. After all the efforts carried out to find common solutions and to avoid armed conflicts, peace has finally been possible within the borders of the Old continent. Hence, new European generations can look at the future with better expectations than their ancestors. Deserting the polling boxes is giving the right to anti-system parties to attack the basis of the EU and to put in danger the democratic society.
4. Still not convinced to vote?
If you are still hesitating on going to vote or not, please let me introduce you to my Danish friend, who will show you some convincing arguments.