The opportunity to make our voice heard across Europe is fast approaching: on May 22-25, 2014, the European Parliament elections take place. We, the voters, will decide who will end up in the European Parliament. However, you might ask yourself: ‘Why should I care?’
In theory, the answer is clear: the European Parliament is the European Union’s sole democratically elected institution. Members of the European Parliament negotiate with the European Commission and the Council of the European Union about decisions that will be applied everywhere in Europe. Thus, by voting between May 22 and 25, we are able to exert direct influence on Europe-wide decision-making.
This still sounds a bit vague though. What does the European Parliament actually do? We, the creators of this series, were asking ourselves this exact question. Why would we decide to vote? To many people, Europe feels like something that is very far removed from their personal experiences. Sure, Europe brought along the Euro, but that’s not going so well lately, is it? And what else is going on in Brussels? A lot, probably, but we barely notice this in our daily lives.
Actually, the opposite is true. Quite a lot of issues that we deal with on a daily basis find their origins in Brussels. There are European rules for almost everything. Some go beyond our imagination: there are rules concerning the design of our packs of cigarettes, or about how thick the crusts of our pizza’s are allowed to be. This doesn’t mean that the European Parliament only makes trivial or funny decisions. Clearly, it also examines more serious questions, such as policy on human rights or Internet safety. Some of the European decisions apply in a few European member states, whereas others are valid in the entire European Union.
The EU plays a much bigger role in our lives than we, the writers, were aware of. Our curiosity about decisions made by the European Parliament has led us to initiate this project; we wanted to inform ourselves about what the Parliament truly does, before we would simply cast an otherwise random vote this coming May. As a result, we have made this series of illustrations, in which we discuss surprising, important as well as peculiar decisions made by the European Parliament.
Via text and images, we hope to show you in what way the European Parliament plays a role in our daily lives. By following this series, you will find out more about what it means when you decide to vote in May 2014.
European decision-making is a complex process and comes about in different ways. Some rules are made by the European Commission and the Parliament in a joined effort, others are decided on solely by the Council of the European Union. For this project, we have decided to only discuss decisions that were adopted by the European Parliament specifically – after all, only these are relevant for the parliamentary elections in May.
With this series we aim to make European politics more comprehensible. In addition, we want to show what the European Parliament truly decides for us, European citizens. With the aim that, once you find yourself in the voting booth sometime between May 22 and May 25, you will know why you are voting. We hope you enjoy this series!
Anne van Mourik