European elections matter: vote!

, by JEF Europe

European elections matter: vote!

On the eve of the 2014 European elections, it is important to tell the truth about what Europe really stands for, and counter populist eurosceptic ideas which badly hide the nationalist hatred they actually stand for. From the 22 to 25 May: VOTE and decide who will govern Europe!

Eurosceptic argument: European elections don’t matter anyway!

This is not true!

The EU impacts our daily lives in many ways (point 1), if you vote in the European Parliament elections you can have an impact on the future of the EU (point 2), and this time it’s different because your vote will decide the result of the elections more than ever before (point 3). The EU is still imperfect and under construction. It needs to be completed to be a full democracy (point 4). If you care about the EU and if you want to change the EU for the better, you should go and vote for someone that wants to move Europe forward. The elections matter; they are a chance for a different, better Europe.

The European Parliament has a strong impact on your life

Decisions by the European Union have a large impact on your life, and the European Parliament has a large impact on decisions by the European Union. Since the European Parliament is the only directly elected body of the European Union, your vote in the European Parliament elections is your strongest instrument to impact your own life.

The European Parliament has a strong influence over many policies that impact your life: some examples are consumer protection, food safety, workers’ rights, environmental standards, trade regulation, agriculture, energy policy, immigration and public health, are all regulated by the European Parliament, and the European Parliaments’ influence is growing in other fields such as making sure that banks are responsible with your savings, and in lowering your phone bills. A parliament with a strong mandate given by many voters will be more powerful to represent the general interest of citizens in European decision-making, and debate about the policies that ensure a better future for citizens in Europe.

Those that don’t vote are not heard by decision makers.

To be represented it is important that you vote for the party that represents your views the most. Voting is the most important way to ensure that your voice is heard. Nobody fights for the rights and interests of non-voters in European decisions. When tax money is allocated and decisions are being made, those who voted will be represented, favoured and have a stronger say. If everyone with the same preference votes their preferences will be heard most when decisions are being made. If we want Europe to work for our interests, we must show Europe what our interests are.

This time it’s different because your vote will decide more than ever before

This time is much more important than before for the future of Europe, because your vote will also decide who the next President of the European Commission will be, and because the European Parliament has more power than before.

The previous European election campaigns were seriously flawed because they failed to focus on the themes that were really important for people, because citizens were uninformed about the European elections, because there was no real European debate, and because more than 70 percent of young people did not use their right to vote. The motto for these European Parliament elections is “this time it’s different”: For the first time, the European Parliament will determine the President of the European Commission, making its impact on European decisions much greater.

Different because the European Parliament has become much more assertive with its new powers, rejecting budgets, data protection agreements and other legislation and demanding a better deal for Europeans. Different because for the first time, we are having a real European debate between leading candidates with very different perspectives on the future of this continent. Different because the financial crisis showed that European solutions are more necessary than ever, but also different because European citizens have never been this pessimistic about the European project before. And this time it’s different because democracy is under pressure all over Europe. In Belarus the status-quo has been grave for years, in Ukraine violence erupted at the end of November last year, and all over Europe democracy is threatened by the rise of nationalism and extremist parties and by low turnout at elections. The upcoming elections therefore mark a unique opportunity to breathe new life into democracy in the EU. These elections are a chance to show the entire world the strength of democracy. So this time it’s different and that is a very good thing because it will be up to the next European Parliament to give some shine back to the European project.

Making the EU more democratic means completing a federal Europe

The EU is an imperfect and is still being built step by step. Democracy is a core value that we should not sacrifice in that process. The European Union must be democratic, and it can only be democratic as a completed federal political union.

The European Parliament elections and their impact on the nomination of the president of the European Commission make the European Union more democratic. But it is not enough. The powers of the European Union have grown to battle the crisis but the democratic foundations of the Union have not grown along with those powers. The European Parliament must become stronger in relation to the European Council, and should be elected on the basis of truly pan-European elections, through transnational lists. A German should be able to vote for a Romanian, a Portuguese for a Pole, a Lithuanian for a Belgian. The European Commission must be formed on the basis of the election outcomes and must play a stronger political role, forming a European Union government that is accountable to the European Parliament and the European Council. No single leader in the European Council should be able to set the agenda for the entire union, and unanimity decision-making should be substituted with majority rule. The European Union must become a European Federation. It must become a political union rather than a technocratic union. Only then can it be a real democratic Union.

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