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Euro-elections 2014 - don't let your vote be a wasted vote

Posted by Nick Prag at 22 May 2014, 16:00 CET |
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The challenges faced by the EU following the 2014 European elections will no doubt prove a challenge to many of the new MEPs. Voters should consider which candidates are most qualified and capable of doing this work on their behalf. Don't forget to vote.

Voters in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands were the first to have their say in the European elections today, as polls forecast a likely swing towards populist right-wing parties after the polls close on Sunday. What are the choices, and what are the challenges MEPs will face in the new Parliament?

What have MEPs done over the past five years?

766 MEPs from 28 Member States have been involved in a hectic period, during which the European Union has been buffeted by an unprecedented financial crash after 2008, which brought about a crisis of sovereign debt, economic collapse and social hardship. In addition, the Russia-Ukraine crisis brought probably the biggest challenge to security and peace in Europe since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Some figures from the Parliament:

There have been 20 committees, two subcommittees and three temporary committees (committees of inquiry), holding 2,821 committee meetings, during which 2,110 reports were adopted

  • Parliament has held 491 public hearings
  • There were 260 days of plenary, including 23,551 votes, 21,298 adopted and 22,692 rejected amendments, and 2,790 acts adopted, of which 1,071 were legislative acts
  • MEPs tabled 58,840 written questions to other EU institutions
  • MEPs held 98 meetings with national parliaments
  • MEPs took part in 1,557 meetings to negotiate with the Council and the European Parliament

What has the Parliament actually achieved?

  • In its seventh term, from 2009 until June this year, Europe's Parliament enjoyed greater responsibility than ever before.
  • For the first time MEPs had the power to decide on the full EU budget, also on on big international trade agreements, and nearly all EU legislation, on an equal footing with national governments represented in the EU Council.
  • MEPs were faced with many various challenges, the biggest of which was the world-wide financial crisis, with many predicting implosion of the euro, Greece's exit and disintegration of the European Union itself.
  • MEPs adopted many important legislative proposals, such as an end to roaming charges by 2015 as well as plans to strengthen passenger rights. They approved measures paving the way for a banking union in the EU, as well as measure to improve pension rights and support a tobacco directive to curb smoking. In addition it rejected the ACTA and SWIFT agreements in order to protect Europeans' rights.

Challenges for the EU after polls

The new intake of MEPs will undoubtedly face similar issues over the next five years. They will need to debate and vote on draft directives, regulations, international agreements and settlements covering many economic, social, environmental, political and diplomatic issues.

These will include how the EU can help to resolve the economic crisis, new developments on European integration such as the euro, the single market and freedom of movement, as well as political union, and EU strategies towards globalisation, such as the EU's Neighbourhood strategy, foreign policy, energy-climate and immigration.

MEPs will need to play their part in building a future for a 'lost generation' of young people whose hopes and aspirations were badly hit by the recession. They will have to examine in detail the new Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which to some offers huge economic gains and to others is the unacceptable face of globalisation. And they will be under pressure to cut greenhouse gas emissions to combat global warming at a time when economic growth and jobs are at a premium.

This is the work that Members of the European Parliament have to take on, and voters might do well to consider which candidates are actually qualified or capable of doing this work on their behalf.

Watch the European elections results live on EUbusiness

The first estimations at the European level will be published from about 22:00 CEST. The last polling stations close at 23:00 CEST on 25 May, with first preliminary results both at European level and national levels available from about the same time.

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Nick Prag

Nick Prag

Nick Prag is founder and managing editor of EUbusiness.com. Prior to EUbusiness, he was senior editor at Europe Online SA in Luxembourg, where he played a major part in the launch of Europe Online International.