THE BLOG

You Can Take Charge of YOUR Europe

13/09/2013 10:50 BST | Updated 12/11/2013 10:12 GMT

When it comes to talking about Europe most Britons are pretty skeptical unless there's a holiday destination involved or a football match. Add in the European Parliament or the European Commission and most Britons are even less interested - or open to debate. Stories on another possible Eurozone bailout, unemployment hitting new highs and alleged EU-interference into the UK, play their part to stir the skepticism.

What many do not realize is the European Parliament has an impact on almost every aspect of life in the UK, whether it is trying to cut the costs of a mobile phone call while you're on holiday to protecting your employment rights when you're at work or trying to ensure the very air you breathe is clean.

Next May, the British people have an opportunity to air their views and their views about Europe in the European parliamentary elections. Whether you feel angry and want change or are a supporter of the European system, you have an opportunity to choose the people and parliament you want - one which has real power and influence.

Over the past few years, Parliament has taken took the will of the people on board and upheld their interests. It has fought attempts - by other EU institutions, by governments - to water down new rules. Arguably, the European Parliament is Europe's most transparent and influential parliament.

It has obtained more rights for its citizens, more democratic scrutiny and more transparency, for example, by shaping the EU's fledgling economic governance system and in improving data and privacy protection.

Capping bankers' bonuses, pushing for a financial transaction tax (FTT), debating in public and rejecting the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) or rejecting the banking data transfers to the US via the SWIFT network are but a few more recent examples.

The European Parliament wants to go even further in acting as an agent of change, in doing things better. It can also do things differently if that is the outcome of the ballot box. It is vital though that this influence is based on the will of the largest possible number of Europeans. That power lies with you.

All of us, as voters, can influence who wins power in the next European Parliament - the parliament which will set the course for forging new rules, challenging policies and leading the debate.

And this time your vote will directly influence the decision on who will lead the European Commission - the "EU prime minister" in other words - and thereby the political direction of the future EU government.

On September 10, the President of the European Commission delivered his State of the Union speech. This kick-started the countdown to next May's elections when you have the opportunity to take charge of your Europe; to use your vote to send a message: we, the people, want to be in the driving seat of power, we want to be part of the European decision-making process on economy, finance, health, environment or liberty and justice. The European Parliament is the Chamber of European citizens, it makes your voice heard in the EU.

This is what the information campaign that the European Parliament launched on September 10 aims to do: to raise awareness of the extent of the European Parliament's influence. This campaign, with the slogan ACT.REACT.IMPACT, will lead up to the European elections of 22-25 May 2014, and, after that, to Parliament choosing the President of the European Commission and approving his or her political agenda.