The EU elections have kicked off with British and Dutch voters the first to cast their ballots. Voting will be taking place in each of the 28 member states between Thursday and Sunday.
In the UK voters have been choosing the 73 MEPs who will represent them for the next five years.
Local council polls are also taking place in England and Northern Ireland in what is being seen as the final big test of public opinion ahead of the 2015 general elections.
All the main candidates in the electoral race including Prime Minister David Cameron as well as UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage were early to cast their ballots.
While this election isn’t about whether the UK should stay in the EU or not, the country’s relationship with Brussels has dominated national debate in the lead-up to today’s vote.
Along with Westminster’s relationship with the EU immigration, including the free movement of workers in to the UK from the 28 member bloc, and the benefits available to migrant workers have been central issues in the election campaign.
“I think eurosceptics strike a chord in the UK because there is a reasonable constituency of people who don’t feel that they get enough benefit from the European Union, and do feel that it’s something foreign and “other” to them,” explained political analyst David Lea.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has promised an in/out referendum if he wins next year’s general election. So, it is the upcoming national vote, rather than this week’s European elections, that could potentially mark a real milestone in the UK’s relationship with the EU.
Polling stations are open across the United Kingdom until 10 pm London time on Thursday.