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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 12 March 2013

2014 European Parliament Elections: Commission recommends that political parties nominate candidate for Commission President

Political parties should nominate a candidate for European Commission President in the next European elections and they should display their European political party affiliation, under a recommendation adopted by the European Commission today. The proposals aim to better inform voters about the issues at stake in next year's European Parliament elections, encourage a Europe-wide debate and ultimately improve voter turnout. The Commission is also calling on Member States to agree on a common voting date for the elections, traditionally spread out over a period of four days.

Europe cannot be built without the participation of Europeans. It is essential that citizens have their say as the European Union develops and moves forward,” said Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU’s Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship. “Today's practical recommendations will help to strengthen people’s voice in European democracy and to make next year’s European elections a real debate about the future of Europe.

Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, responsible for Administration and Interinstitutional Relations, said: "I am convinced that this recommendation, coupled with our proposal to strengthen the effectiveness of European political parties, will really help to stimulate voter interest in the European elections. That has to be a good thing, for encouraging genuine pan-European debates and for European democracy in general."

The recommendation adopted today is backed by a new Eurobarometer survey (released today) which found that 84% of people think turnout in European elections would increase with more information about the EU’s impact on their daily lives (see Annex), parties’ programmes in the Parliament and about the elections themselves. 73% believe more information about candidates’ European political affiliations would encourage people to vote, while 62% think having party candidates for Commission President and a single voting day would help bolster turnout.

2013 is the European Year of Citizens and an opportunity for citizens to make their voice heard. Ahead of the European elections in 2014, the Commission is presenting recommendations to strengthen the link between citizens and the EU:

  • Before and during elections, national political parties should make clear to which European political party they are affiliated;

  • Member States should agree on a common day for the European elections;

  • Political parties should make known which candidate for President of the European Commission they support;

  • National parties should inform voters during the campaign about their candidate for President of the Commission.

The Eurobarometer survey on EU citizens’ electoral rights also found that most people are aware that EU citizens have the right to vote in European elections (72% of respondents, up from 54% in 2007) and local elections (66%) in their country of residence.

Background

The 2014 European elections will be the first to be held under the Lisbon Treaty, which enhances the role of the EU citizen as a political actor in the EU. The Treaty also strengthens the powers of the European Parliament, consolidating its role as co-legislator and giving it additional responsibility: it elects the President of the Commission on the basis of a proposal by the European Council taking into account the results of the European elections (Article 17(7) of the Treaty on European Union).

In his 2012 State of the Union address (see SPEECH/12/596), President Barroso stressed the need for deepening the pan-European debate and called for action to further strengthen the European dimension of the European elections. Today’s Communication and Recommendation follow up on President Barroso's address, as well as on the Commission's "Blueprint for a deep and genuine economic and monetary union" (see IP/12/1272) which underlined the importance of a genuine European debate, including in the European Parliament elections of 2014.

The recommendations also reflect the Report "Towards a Genuine Economic and Monetary Union" prepared by the President of the European Council with the Presidents of the Commission, the Eurogroup and the European Central Bank, stating that democratic legitimacy and accountability are essential to a genuine Economic and Monetary Union.

The Commission will put forward its proposals for Treaty changes in time to allow a real debate on the future of Europe before the elections.

For more information

MEMO/13/202

European Commission – EU Citizenship:

http://ec.europa.eu/justice/citizen

2013 European Year of Citizens:

http://europa.eu/citizens-2013

Eurobarometer on EU citizens’ electoral rights:

http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/flash_arch_374_361_en.htm#364

Homepage of Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner:

http://ec.europa.eu/reding

Contacts :

Mina Andreeva (+32 2 299 13 82)

Antonio Gravili (+32 2 295 43 17)

Natasha Bertaud (+32 2 296 74 56)

Marilyn Carruthers (+32 2 299 94 51)

Annex

1. Awareness of EU citizens’ electoral rights

2. Increasing turnout in European elections

3. Increasing turnout in European elections: European political party affiliations

4. Increasing turnout in European elections: Candidates for Commission President


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