Raising awareness key to successful European election campaign
Next year's European elections will offer citizens a chance to have their say on the future direction of the EU, Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič said on 10 September following the official launch of the 2014 European election campaign in Strasbourg.
"These will be the first European Parliament elections since the Lisbon Treaty gave MEPs an even greater role in the EU policy-making process. As such, they will be a real test of citizens' confidence in Europe's ability to sort out its current problems and pave the way for a better and brighter future for all of us," he said.
"As the Commissioner responsible for relations with the European Parliament, I know first-hand how important the role of MEPs is in EU policy-making. And as the only institution whose members are directly elected by citizens, the European Parliament helps to strengthen the legitimacy and transparency of EU action."
Vice-President Šefčovič welcomed the awareness-raising campaign launched by the Parliament, which he said complemented the measures proposed by the Commission to increase interest in the elections.
Back in March, V-P Šefčovič, alongside justice commissioner Vice-President Viviane Reding, unveiled a recommendation that political parties should nominate their candidate for European Commission President in the next European elections in a bid to stimulate greater voter interest in the poll.
A Eurobarometer survey (also from March 2013) 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.
V-P Šefčovič has also proposed strengthening the role of European political parties, giving them a proper EU-wide legal status for the first time and helping them to raise awareness of the affiliations of national parties during the election campaign.
The important role played by MEPs was a theme repeated by Commission President José Manuel Barroso in his 2013 State of the Union speech in Strasbourg on 11 September. "For Europe, recovery is within sight…If we are where we are today, it is because we have shown the resolve to adapt both our politics and our policies to the lessons drawn from the crisis. And when I say 'we', I really mean: 'we': it has really been a joint effort. At each and every step, you, the European Parliament, you have played a decisive role through one of the most impressive records of legislative work ever. I personally believe this is not sufficiently known by the citizens of Europe, and you deserve more credit and recognition for this."