Thirty years after the EU citizens elected for the first time their representatives directly at the European Union level, 2009 will see the European Parliament’s seventh elections. They will take place from 4 to 7 June 2009. It will be the first time since the accession of Romania and Bulgaria that all 27 EU Member States vote on the same dates.
In order to support NGOs /citizens groups at local level in raising awareness about the European elections and to engage in discussion with candidates, the Civil Society Contact Group has updated its election toolkit 2004. The 2009 edition consists of four easy to use action and fact sheets:
- Action sheet 1 – Why vote?
Turnout in the European elections was low in 2004. Many EU citizens seem to be unaware of the possibility of or interested in electing their representatives at the EU level. There are though as many good reasons to vote in the European elections as there are in other elections [read more and download pdf]
- Action sheet 2 – How to engage?
How can your organisation/your members engage in the run up to the EU 2009 elections? We have brainstormed and collected ideas for you to get started. These ideas are described in a general way. You may need to adapt them to the context you are working in [read more and download pdf]
- Action sheet 3 – What we expect from future European parliamentarians
The eight European NGO platforms that are working together under the umbrella of the EU Civil Society Contact Group have chosen fundamental rights, sustainable development and democratic accountability as the key domains in which we expect future European Parliamentarians to have experience [read more and download pdf]
- Fact sheet 4 – What is the European Parliament?
The European Parliament – like national parliaments – has three fundamental powers: legislative, budgetary and supervisory. It has been increasingly transformed from a purely consultative assembly into a legislative parliament; exercising powers similar to those of national parliaments. It has steadily acquired greater influence and power through a series of treaty changes. Today the European Parliament, as an equal partner with the Council of Ministers, passes the majority of European laws. Parliament’s powers would be further increased if the new EU treaty (Lisbon Treaty) came into force (ratification is still underway at the time of drafting, December 2008) [read more and download pdf]
Example of the influence of the European Parliament: Development policy
In the framework of the 2005 review of the EU instruments for external action, the European Commission has put forward the proposal to create a “Development and Economic Co-operation Instrument” that included development co-operation with developing countries and economic co-operation with industrialised countries. Two distinct policy areas with distinct objectives were mixed up in a single document.
The European Parliament closely followed the CONCORD recommendations and played a key role in the outcome of the negotiations: finally one single instrument for development, targeting only those countries in need of development assistance, was established. Furthermore, the European Parliament introduced spending targets for basic health and basic education, which was also a demand of civil society organisations.
Find more information about the organization, powers and role of the European Parliament, in all official EU languages on the European Parliament website.