European citizens are more inclined to vote if they are given the chance to choose who will be the next president of the European Commission, according to a survey released today (6 September).
The European elections will be held in all EU countries in May 2014. It will be the eighth European Parliament contest since the first direct elections in 1979.
The Lisbon Treaty states that the European Parliament shall elect the Commission president on the basis of a proposal made by the European Council, taking into account the European elections (Article 17, Paragraph 7 of the TEU). This will apply for the first time in the 2014 elections.
A new Eurobarometer report, published by European Parliament today (6 September), polled some 27,600 European citizen's on their views on the EU, one year before the European Parliament elections in May 2014.
In the upcoming campaign, European political parties are to present their candidates for the presidency of the European Commission. Asked whether this mattered to them, 55% of the respondents said it would encourage them to head to voting booths.
The European Parliament had hoped the move would boost voter turnout in May.
“A considerable amount of people say that, if voting for the EU parliament means voting for the EC president candidate as well, they would be more inclined to vote”, European Parliament spokesman Jaume Duch told EurActiv.
Some 70% of people polled also said that they favoured the direct election of the Commission president in the future. Of the respondents, 31% said this was because “EU decisions would seem more legitimate” and 30% said “it would reinforce democracy within the EU”.
Under the current procedure, MEPs nominate the next Commission president after the elections. Though the European Council proposes the candidate, the 2009 Lisbon Treaty empowered the Parliament to confirm them in a vote.
More European, less trustful
In a Eurobarometer survey released in July up to 60% of Europeans said they did “not to trust the EU”, a record high.
But today's survey showed a spike in shared identity. More than five out of 10 citizens defined themselves as both "national" and "European", a six point increase compared to last year.
According to Duch, “it shows that crisis has made people aware that the different European countries are deeply interlinked and we all are in the same boat”.
Some 39% felt their voice “counts in the EU”, a small decline compared to 2012. 62% said their country’s voice counted. In Greece, however, this figure dropped from 32% to 21% in just one year.
The survey also showed EU citizens are most concerned by Europe’s unemployment figures, particularly among the youth. 55% marked this as the EU’s main concern, especially in southern and southeastern Europe. Social inequalities and public debt also topped the list of concerns.
- 22-25 May 2014: European Parliament elections in all 28 member states.