In a Press Release published yesterday, the European Commission recommends that political parties nominate their candidate for Commission President. 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.”
The recommendation is backed by a new Eurobarometer survey 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, 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.
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).