05/05/2014 08:21 BST | Updated 04/07/2014 06:59 BST

Europe: A Manual for Change


Austerity or investment, more or less migration, putting the brakes on Brussels or expanding Europe... The economic crisis over the last few years has caused many people to question what should happen next.

It's not often that you have a real chance to influence how things are run, but on 22-25 May it's all up for grabs. That's when people across Europe will choose who they want to represent them in the European Parliament.

Why does it matter? Because the European Parliament is the only EU institution that is directly elected by Europeans. Together with the governments represented in the Council, the Parliament decides on proposals for new European legislation and on approving, amending or rejecting them as needed. It is also responsible for scrutinising the other EU institutions by investigating how money has been spent and approving the new European Commission. In addition it acts as the voice of the people by responding to petitions, launching inquiries, holding debates on pressing matters and calling for new legislation.

But wait, there's more. This time your vote carries more weight than ever before. For the first time ever, thanks to the Lisbon Treaty, the presidency of the European Commission depends directly on the results of the elections. When the leaders of European governments put forward someone they would like to see become president of the Commission, they have to take into account the results of the elections. And this candidate can only get the job if he or she is elected by the European Parliament with the support of a political majority.

The upcoming elections are your chance to have your say about how we face future challenges, what new rules are needed and about who's in charge in Europe.

Copyright infographic European Parliament