As Europe gears up to vote for a new parliament in May, a campaign is under way to make voters aware of changes to the this key election.
Brian from Dublin asks: “I know that the European elections will take place on May 22-25 May. I keep hearing that ‘This time it’s different’. How is that so?”
Jimena Gómez de la Flor, Europe Direct Senior Communication Officer responds:
“Indeed, the European Elections will take place between the 22nd and the 25th of May all across the EU which means that 400 million European citizens will elect the 751 Members of the European Parliament – also called MEPs – to represent them for the next 5 years.
“And this is important because the European Parliament is the only directly elected body of the European Union. Its powers have increased a lot since 1979 (when MEPs were elected for the first time by universal direct suffrage).
“Now the European Parliament is not anymore just a consultative body but it is a fully-fledged co-legislator together with the Council of the European Union which is the body that reunites representatives of the EU Member States.
“It means that the European Parliament now has an equal say in virtually all EU laws that affect the citizens, so that affect you.
“That means that MEPs have a say in internal market issues, civil liberties, fundamental rights, everything related of course to the economic crisis and how to spend the EU budget through investing in regional development, research, energy, transport, and environment etc.
“And now why is this time so different? Because since the last European elections, the rules have changed.
“Now for the first time, the European citizens will have a say over who will be the next President of the European Commission (which is the executive branch of the EU). Because (under the new rules) the Member States will have to take into account the result of the elections when nominating the new European Commission president, who will have to be endorsed by a majority of the MEPs.
“This is a very important thing to do in such a moment because the European Union is fighting against the economic crisis, EU leaders are deciding what direction to take in the future.
“This is why the European voters have a very important say right now in deciding indeed how is going to be the future of the EU and that’s why that this time it’s different.”
For more information about the
European elections, check out the website
www.elections2014.eu or call 00 80
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