Outgoing European Parliament President Pat Cox said: "Regrettably, Europe is too absent from European elections in east and west."
Commenting on the low turnout in the new member states, John Palmer, director of European Policy Centre, said to EURACTIV: "These elections have not been about anything, nothing about which direction Europe is going. And this has especially affected turn out in the new Members States where the voters are tired of elections, having recently gone through referenda on the accession to the EU."
Sebastian Kurpas, researcher at the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), said to EURACTIV: "Even if participation has gone up in a number of old EU Member States, it is hard to see it as a greater engagement in European politics. Rather the election has been used by voters to 'present the bill' to ruling governments. In the UK the theme was the Iraq war, in Germany the economic performance of the Schrï¿½ government, in Italy on the figure of Silvio Berlusconi." To Mr Kurpas it seems that it is largely national themes dominating the debate and the participation varies according to the strength of these. The very low participation the new Members States can be seen as a sort of 'post accession blues' says Mr Kurpas."It is not clear what is all about to voters, So it has been a bit difficult to motivate them."
"There is a lack of awareness of what Europe is and does. It is too far removed from the ordinary citizen. Not European, but national elections were on the agenda of the election campaigns," Marek Hannibal, spokesperson from the EPP-ED group for the Czech Republic said on the low turnout in the Central and Eastern European new Member States.
President of the Young European Federalists (JEF-Europe) Jon Worth underlined this point. "The clear message from these elections is that the European Union is presently not meeting its citizens’ needs. The European elections have proven to be too abstract, too distant. No one knows what will change after voting one way or another in the European elections. That simply has to change." JEF-Europe would grant more power to the European Parliament. As a first step, it would give it powers to elect the President of the European Commission.
John Hontelez, head of the largest federation of environmental organisations in Europe, said 'these elections show that Member States' governments and the European Commission have failed to increase the EU's credibility with its citizens. Only four out of ten voters gave their vote to parties supporting the EU. The others were just not motivated, or actively supported parties critical or dismissive of the EU'. He continued, 'For many citizens, the EU is not recognised as the body that works for a better quality of life and for a safe and prosperous future for our children. The work of the EU institutions on sustainable development, protection of public health and environmental protection was not publicised enough in the election campaigns'.
"The low turn out at th e European elections shows that a new form of dialogue between the European Union and its citizens has to be established," said Christoph Leitl, President of EUROCHAMBRES. He continued: "Europe has not got its message through to its citizens". Mr Leitl warned against ignoring the low voter turnout and the big success of the eurosceptic parties: "Europe can only be built via a bottom-up approach. We will fail if we do not succeed to enthuse people for the European idea. Therefore, information and communication about the benefits of the European Union for each citizen must play a bigger part in the way European institutions go about their business."