“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.”
Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, responsible for Administration and Interinstitutional Relations, said: "I am convinced that this recommendation, coupled with our proposal to strengthen the effectiveness of European political parties, will really help to stimulate voter interest in the European elections. That has to be a good thing, for encouraging genuine pan-European debates and for European democracy in general."
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.
2013 is the European Year of Citizens and an opportunity for citizens to make their voice heard. Ahead of the European elections in 2014, the Commission is presenting recommendations to strengthen the link between citizens and the EU:
The Eurobarometer survey on EU citizens’ electoral rights also found that most people are aware that EU citizens have the right to vote in European elections (72% of respondents, up from 54% in 2007) and local elections (66%) in their country of residence.
Malta's new Prime Minister is a former MEP and three MEPs (Simon Busuttil, Louis Grech and Edward Scicluna) will relinquish their MEP seat after having been elected in the Maltese general elections held on the 9th March. By-elections will have to be held to fill their posts. There is a good chance that Malta will have its first woman MEP since there were several women candidates in the 2009 MEP elections in Malta who are eligible for the PL's two seats and the PN's one seat.