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Vice-President Reding welcomes European Parliament support to improve 2014 elections

European Commission - MEMO/13/657   04/07/2013

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European Commission

MEMO

Strasbourg, 4 July 2013

Vice-President Reding welcomes European Parliament support to improve 2014 elections

European Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding has today welcomed a vote by the European Parliament to back recommendations presented by the Commission to boost turnout in next year’s European elections. Members of the European Parliament voted by 507 to 120 (and 18 abstentions) to support a resolution on the Duff report (SPEECH/13/604), which also takes up key recommendations from the Commission on improving the organisation of the next European Parliament elections – due to take place on 22-25 May 2014. The recommendations mean that European political parties should nominate a candidate for Commission President in the 2014 elections and that national political parties should display their European political party affiliation during the campaign. The Commission put forward the recommendations on 12 March 2013 (IP/13/215) to better inform voters about the issues at stake in European elections, encourage a Europe-wide debate, and ultimately improve voter turnout. This is all the more important at this crucial stage of European integration, as a strengthening of the democratic underpinning of the European decision-making process must accompany deeper economic and monetary integration.

I strongly welcome the European Parliament’s action to improve participation in the next European elections and reinforce the direct role of EU citizens in Europe’s democracy,” said Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU’s Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship. "More and more decisions are being taken at European level which have a strong impact on the economic and social policies of the Member States and on the daily lives of EU citizens, Europe matters more than ever. It is therefore essential that citizens have their say as the European Union develops and moves forward. I would like in particular to thank Andrew Duff, Member of the European Parliament and rapporteur of today's report, for his tireless efforts to strengthen the key role of the Parliament in European democracy.

The changes supported by the European Parliament are also backed by voters. A recent Eurobarometer survey 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.

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. The Commission’s Communication and Recommendation of 12 March 2013 (see IP/13/215) followed 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 Commission recommended strengthening links between citizens and the EU with the following measures:

  • 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;

  • Political parties should inform voters during the campaign about their candidate for President of the Commission and the candidate's programme.

On 8 May 2013, the Commission unveiled a new push to reinforce EU citizens’ rights with a series of actions to tackle obstacles that citizens still face in their everyday life. The 2013 EU Citizenship Report set out 12 concrete ways to help Europeans make better use of their EU rights, from looking for a job in another EU country to ensuring stronger participation in the democratic life of the Union (IP/13/410, MEMO/13/409, SPEECH/13/393).

For more information

SPEECH/13/604

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

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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