Europe faces many challenges. Climate change, migration, data privacy, youth unemployment; all these issues affect Europeans. And all of us, to different extents, are passionate about each and every one of them. There also amazing opportunities stemming out of its creation. For example, extending the digital single market, while ensuring consumer protection.
The European Union is an amazing project which all European should be proud of. But it is not unshakable and recent developments have shown us that some voices do actively speak against it. Diversity, when unchecked, can easily turn into division, and democracy becomes fragile without active participation from citizens.
The European Parliament (EP) represents about 500 million European citizens and over 360 million people have the right to vote. In 2014, we witnessed the largest transnational elections ever held. It was a mind-blowing moment; however, turnout was the lowest ever. The stakes are high. We must all get involved and vote in the next European elections.
The EP decides on almost all EU laws and defines the EU budget. Not only do Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) shape new legislation, but they also make other EU institutions accountable for their actions.
All MEPs are elected by ballot. Voting is the only way a European citizen can impact who will be elected to the EP. It is the best way to have a say on the direction of the EU for the next five years. Casting your ballot is the moment when you impact the EU most. International trade, consumer protection, fighting climate change, economic growth, and so on, are all areas in which you can have a say. Because MEPs represent you. They represent us. They represent all Europeans.
A MEP has a lot of influence. They represent citizens of their own countries. MEPs meet with relevant stakeholders to protect your interests and vote in your behalf to approve laws.
By voting in the European Election in 2019 you will be choosing the 705 MEPs (formerly 751, which is the maximum number allows by existing European treaties) representing us until 2024.
It is really important to encourage a higher voter turnout. People should vote. Let’s promote the act of voting itself. We must engage in the democratic process. Let’s do it in an informed and conscious way. We must take accountability for the future of Europe. Let’s decide, together, the kind of Europe we want to live in.
So, are you voting?
Yes, I am voting in the 2019 European Elections!
Great. You are truly living up to the expectations. You are a part of the democratic process and your actions are shaping the future of Europe. Rock on!
I don’t know how to vote.
Not a problem. The European Elections are being held between the 23rd and the 26th May 2019. To know where you should vote and the exact date for voting in your own country check out this link. By default, it will be in English. After you change it to your native language all relevant information will show up. Procedures vary slightly from country to country, so don’t forget to check the specificities of your home country.
I can’t vote. I live abroad.
Well, that is actually not a problem. Typically, there are procedures for people living abroad. Check out this link. Don’t forget to change to your native language and check the section for people living abroad. Quite often it is simple to vote, even when abroad.
Sorry, I don’t have the time to vote.
Listen, I understand. Your schedule is hectic, and it is a constant struggle to find time to get stuff done, and little time is left to do the things you love. Look at it this way, voting only takes 5 minutes, but it will affect the next five years of your life. It’s a big thing!
I don’t know who to vote for
Great argument. Voting is important and participating is key. But being well informed as well. There is no silver bullet to it. Just take some time and check out the work of your representatives in the parliament. Get involved and participate in events where candidates speak and present their vision for Europe. No one can tell you who to vote for. It is really up to you and your own values/beliefs. Learn more about the issues being brought forward here.
Do you want to do more?
If, like me, you also feel that this is an important issue that cannot be ignored, get involved. Make sure your family, friends and colleagues are aware of the importance of their participation. You can share this article with them, have a quick chat over dinner, bring up the topic between meetings, while waiting for a lecture to start, on the way to the theater, etc. Get involved. Help people understand why they should vote. Do something.
There are a bunch of tools available out there to promote the topic. If you are really serious about it, register to the This Time I’m Voting platform and help persuading others into voting. There you can even take it one step further and participate in the 12-star challenge.