The turnout for the European elections is falling steadily. Why does this important election not attract citizens to the ballot box? Can the public not identify themselves with the European Union because the European institutions are not tangible for the voters? Is the European Parliament weakened in its function by its lack of right to initiate laws?
Are the bills passed in the European Parliament too badly communicated by the respective officials? The lack of contact with MEPs due to the absence of constituencies does not create confidence either. On the contrary: there are feelings of “those up there” and “us down here”. The strong lobbying and bureaucratism within the European organisation is a deterrent to voters.
How do we transform a European Parliament of bureaucracy into a European Parliament of citizens?
There are three ways to achieve this:
- A strong citizen lobby consisting of old and new pro-European initiatives.
- A new approach by EU parliamentarians to European policy issues.
- A higher turnout to strengthen the European Parliament as a body.
Recently, a counter-movement to the emerging right-wing populism has developed in the form of “Pulse of Europe” and other movements. These must network and act within an organised framework in order to stand up for their rights and concerns.
This citizens lobby must be present in Brussels, have a transparent agenda, be apolitical and campaign strong, so that its goals can be effectively implemented in order to stand up for the interests of the population. It must have an understanding of – and make use of – the economic lobbying that prevails in the European Union, so that the atmosphere can be improved from the inside.
This presence prevents decisions being taken in spite of the protests of the people. Article 13 is the most recent example which shows us that a citizens’ lobby is important. On the ground in Brussels and Strasbourg, Members must be reminded to whom they are bound: The voters. At the same time, at local level, citizens must speak out, make use of their fundamental rights and put pressure on MEPs. Ultimately, this change of politics will be rewarded with a high turnout.
However, if we want to launch this citizen-friendly process, we must use our vote on 26 May.