Expectations are high for the European institutions, but just a few weeks before voting time for a new parliament, two out of three people eligible seem pretty certain they will not go to cast their ballot.
The latest poll by the Gallup institute names jobs, economic growth and purchasing power as their top concerns. Euronews asked citizens in Brussels what they want the parliament and commission to tackle first. They said: “The financial crisis. It’s an important point. Then there’s Europe’s role as a global player. Those are the primordial points for me.” “We should be able to meet and get in proper contact with, closer contact with some of the European Union’s representatives.” “The financial and economic crisis, protection of the environment, education… everything that adds to Europeans’ well-being.” Experts meanwhile were debating the European Parliament’s communication shortcomings. Economics professor Joachim Starbatty insisted that campaigning politicians have to get out and mix with the voters, listen to them, while explaining how Europe works and in which European group the national parties are engaged. Starbatty said: “Simply to say that one is in favour of Europe and works towards Europe is not enough. A real effort is needed, to go to the trouble of discussing crucial points in the EU. Because people only see the critical aspects and not the positive things. We have to take this up with the people. That means we have to start discussions with people about Europe, instead of complaining that they are not interested in Europe.” It is a challenge for the MEPs to overcome the tendency for the European elections to be waged on national themes. Abstention predictions of 66 percent must say something.