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European Parliament Elections | 2019 (by Krystle )

Two weeks from now, at the end of May, it will be time for this year's elections for the European Parliament. These are held every five years, and the purpose is to elect members (MEPs) to the institution of the European Union known as the European Parliament. The exact date of the elections vary between the member states, but are to be held sometime between 23rd and 26th of May. Have no idea what any of this means or what it is all about? Fret not, this article will explain it to you!

First of all, we need to understand what the European Union is. This might seem obvious, but it is actually quite a complex question. It is not just an international organisation for cooperation such as the United Nations, it is much more than that. Apart from being an intergovernmental organisation for economic and political cooperation, the European Union has supranational powers, meaning it is able to force member states to implement certain laws and make certain decisions, something a “normal” organisation cannot. Many have described the EU as a unique organisation, being a middle thing between an international organisation for cooperation and a federation such as the United States. Perhaps the most suitable term to describe the European Union would be confederation, which is a term used to define a union of sovereign states joined together for the purpose of common action. This usually means strong cooperation on issues such as trade, defence and foreign relations – a description that fits the European Union well.
Secondly, we need to understand what the European Parliament is, and how it relates to the two other main institutions that make up the EU, namely the European Commission and the Council of the European Union. The European Commission, commonly referred to as “the Commission”, is comprised of 28 so called commissioners, one from each member state. The commissioners do not represent their home countries. Rather, they are each responsible for a portfolio that relates to a certain policy area, such as trade, agriculture or the environment. The Commission is the executive body of the EU, meaning that it is responsible for implementing decisions. Apart from this, the Commission proposes legislation, makes sure the EU treaties are upheld, as well as manages the day-to-day business of the EU.

The Council of the European Union, usually referred to as just “the Council”, is the second main body of the European Union. Its composition varies depending on what issue is discussed. If for example policies regarding the environment are being discussed, the Council will include all 28 member states' ministers responsible for environmental issues. There are ten different configurations of the Council, with the General Affairs Council and Foreign Affairs council holding a special coordinating function. Together with the European Parliament, the Council is the main decision-making body of EU, meaning that it is responsible for adopting law proposals put forward by the Commission. Apart from this, the Council is also in charge of developing the EU's foreign and security policy, as well as adopting the annual EU budget, together with the European Parliament.

The European Parliament is the third main body of the European Union, and is the only institution whose members are directly chosen by the citizens. It consists of 751 members, MEPs, with the number of MEPs from each member state varying depending on the size of the country's population. The number of MEPs from each country range from six to 96, with Malta, Luxembourg, Cyprus and Estonia having the least number of MEPs each, while Germany has the most. As mentioned above, the European Parliament, together with the Council, is responsible for adopting legislation, as well as the annual budget. The ordinary legislative procedure begins with the Commission submitting a legislative proposal to the Parliament. The Parliament reviews this proposal and adopts its position, which is sent to the Council. If the Council agrees, the law will be adopted. If there are disagreements, the proposal will be sent back to the Parliament for a second reading. A proposal can go back and forth between the Parliament and the Council up to three times. If an agreement cannot be reached after three tries, a so called conciliation committee will step in to try to find a solution. However, it is possible for both the Parliament and the Council to block the proposal at this stage, which means the proposal could end up not being adopted after all. Apart from being an important part of the legislation process, the European Parliament also has a supervisory function, providing democratic scrutiny of all EU institutions as well as questioning the Commission and the Council.
Now that we've covered the basics of the European Union and how the three main institutions work, it is time to take a look at the politics. As mentioned above, the members of the European Parliament are elected directly by the citizens in every member state. The parties eligible for election are usually the same as those who participate in national elections in each country. The citizens vote for parties from their own countries to represent them in the European Parliament, which means that for instance someone in Denmark votes for a Danish party, while someone in Romania votes for a Romanian party. Although the parties in the Parliament are elected by voters from their own country, they do not work together based on nationality. Instead, the different parties in the Parliament cooperate with those whose political views are similar to their own. The parties from the 28 member states are thus joined together in eight different groups based on political ideology.

I will now briefly introduce the different groups, which will be presented according to size, that is, how many MEPs they consist of. The largest group in the European Parliament is the European People's Party group (EPP), which consists of parties based on the ideologies of conservatism, liberal conservatism and Christian democracy. The second largest group is the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats group (S&D), which consists of parties based on the political ideology of social democracy. The EPP and S&D are by far the largest groups, consisting of 221 and 191 MEPs respectively. Both of them are pro-Europeanistic, which stands in opposition to the third largest group, the European Conservatives and Reformists group (ECR), which consists of parties based on Euroscepticism, in addition to conservatism, economic liberalism and Christian democracy.

The fourth largest group is the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe group (ALDE), which includes parties based on liberalism, conservative and social liberalism, as well as pro-Europeanism. The fifth largest group is the European United Left/Nordic Green Left group (GUE/NGL), which includes parties mainly based on democratic socialism, but also, to a lesser extent, communism. The sixth largest group is the Greens/European Free Alliance group (Greens/EFA), which includes parties based on green ideology, minority politics as well as regionalism. The seventh largest group is the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group (EFDD), which consists of parties based on Euroscepticism. The eight and smallest group is the Europe of Nations and Freedom group (ENF), which consists of parties based on far-right ideologies, nationalism, anti-immigration politics and right-wing populism. In addition to these, there is a small number of MEPs who are known as Non-Inscrits, meaning that they are not attached to any of the groups.
After this brief presentation of the different political groups, you might wonder why this is important, and why you should vote. For starters, the European Union has a lot more impact on your daily lives than you might think. As an example, you have probably all heard of the so called Article 13 by now. This proposed law has been described by many as internet censorship, and as a measure that would forever change the internet as we know it. As with all other legislative proposals, this was adopted jointly by the Council and the Parliament. A large minority of MEPs voted against it, but it was still not enough to stop it from passing. That said, if the number of MEPs opposing this proposal had been higher, they would have been able to prevent it from becoming a reality. This is where your vote comes in.

Another illustrative example is Brexit. It has now been almost three years since Britain voted to leave the EU, but the country remains in the Union while all the details regarding borders, free movement and trade are being figured out. The UK has desperately tried to avoid holding elections for the European Parliament, but are now forced to hold them anyway, despite wanting to leave the Union, since they still have not reached a final conclusion on how to leave. This just shows how connected the member states' legislations have become since joining the European Union. Legislation passed in Brussels might at first glance seem distant and irrelevant to you, but it has a direct impact on you: The principle of free movement means that you can work in any other EU country without needing special permissions. The implementation of the data roaming law means that you will never have to pay more than at home for mobile surfing in another EU country.

In spite of being important, voting turnout for the European Parliament Elections is unfortunately low in many countries, which means that people are missing out on an opportunity to exercise their democratic rights as citizens. Voting turnout ranges from 89.64% and 85.55% in Belgium and Luxembourg, where voting is mandatory, to as little as 13.05% in Slovakia. A low voting turnout is a sign that democracy is not functioning well, but on the brighter side, it also means that every vote counts more. To conclude this article, I would like to encourage all of you to go and cast your vote. As young people, the decisions made by the EU will affect us for a long time to come. It is therefore crucial to vote, to ensure that the Parliament makes the decisions you want to see. Your vote counts – use it!

For more information, and to see what day elections will be held in your country, click here.

 




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Multatuli wrote on 16-05 17:58:
Multatuli wrote:
yeah Neemi that's why I said I hadn't decided yet which one I should use
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Private wrote on 16-05 15:13:
Snusmumrikken wrote:
Snusmumrikken wrote:
I think it's unfair that Norway has to follow EU regulations, while not having any rights at all when it comes to actually deciding. Personally I wouldn't want to join the EU, but between EU and EEA I'd rather see Norway as a member of EU than only some lame kind of half-member to the EU as EEA appears to be for me. 
+ EFTA, mostly EFTA 
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Private wrote on 16-05 15:10:
Snusmumrikken wrote:
I think it's unfair that Norway has to follow EU regulations, while not having any rights at all when it comes to actually deciding. Personally I wouldn't want to join the EU, but between EU and EEA I'd rather see Norway as a member of EU than only some lame kind of half-member to the EU as EEA appears to be for me. 
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Private wrote on 16-05 15:06:
Neemi wrote:
I think it is funny that the UK will be holding an election even though they will be leaving EU 
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Private wrote on 16-05 14:57:
Neemi wrote:
Multatuli wrote:
I'm able to vote for either Finland or the Netherlands and I'm doubting which one I should use. The Dutch one is easier but I found a Finnish party I agree with a lot. I'd have to do more research eh
If you vote in two countries (even if you have two citizenship) could lead to 1 year in prison. Just heard that on the news. Though it is hard for EU to find those people who do so.
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Multatuli wrote on 16-05 08:57:
Multatuli wrote:
I'm able to vote for either Finland or the Netherlands and I'm doubting which one I should use. The Dutch one is easier but I found a Finnish party I agree with a lot. I'd have to do more research eh
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Private wrote on 15-05 16:25:
BloomCissi wrote:
Phyllis wrote:
Very informative!
I'll vote! 
I'm glad!
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Phyllis wrote on 14-05 21:11:
Phyllis wrote:
Very informative!
I'll vote! 
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TamaraSensuela wrote on 13-05 20:27:
TamaraSensuela wrote:
Finland will get one member more if the UK leaves. 
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Private wrote on 12-05 17:31:
BloomCissi wrote:
Rochellette wrote:
Thank you for this article, good reading and I learned more about the EU.
Glad it was useful to you!
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Private wrote on 12-05 13:15:
Meowmere wrote:
totally forgot about it...
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Private wrote on 12-05 04:25:
Rochellette wrote:
Thank you for this article, good reading and I learned more about the EU.
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StrarGirl54 wrote on 11-05 20:21:
StrarGirl54 wrote:
i have my hopes up
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StrarGirl54 wrote on 11-05 20:20:
StrarGirl54 wrote:
well i am from Norway so i am nerves to see how this will go. hope it goes well
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Private wrote on 11-05 17:39:
BloomCissi wrote:
Libertas wrote:
I really needed this article! Thank you <3
Glad you liked it! <3
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Libertas wrote on 11-05 17:11:
Libertas wrote:
I really needed this article! Thank you <3
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Private wrote on 11-05 17:02:
BloomCissi wrote:
Thank you @Krystle for the amazing layout!



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