What is the European Union?
The Citizenship department are trialling a feature whereby each month a video and/or information pack will be available to students on a current affairs topic.
This month’s focus is on the upcoming European Parliament elections, which UK citizens can take part in on 23rd May.
- The EU is a group of countries whose governments work together, a bit like a club.
- There are currently 28 members, including the United Kingdom.
- Each country has to agree to follow the rules and in return you get certain benefits.
- Each country has to pay money to be a member.
- The EU uses the money to change the way people live and do business in Europe.
- Citizens of the EU are allowed to travel, work, study and live in other EU countries easily.
- The EU allows member nations to trade freely between each other.
- The euro(€) is the official currency of 19 out of 28 EU countries.
- The EU tries to make life better for all of us in all sorts of ways, like protecting the countryside, making sure the food we eat is safe, making phone calls and texts cheaper, fighting crime and lots, lots more.
- The UK held a referendum (a vote) in 2016 and UK citizens voted to leave the EU. 51.9% voted to leave, 48.1% voted to remain.
What is the European Parliament
- Just like the UK has a Parliament with MPs (Members of Parliament), so does the EU. It is called the European Parliament. The European Parliament is the law making part of the EU.
- Laws that are created by the European Parliament apply to countries that belong to the EU.
- The European Parliament have created useful laws, including ones that protect us while we work and ones that make sure the food we eat and the toys we play with are safe.
What are MEPs?
- Members of European Parliament are called MEPs and their job is to represent the citizens of their country at an EU level.
- EU citizens elect once every five years in the European Parliament elections.
How Many MEPs represent the UK?
- There are 751 MEPs in total and 73 represent the UK.
- There are 8 that represent the area of London. You can find out more about who the MEPs are on this website
When is the next European Parliament election taking place?
The next European Parliament elections take place between 23rd - 26th May.
Citizens of the UK get to vote specifically on 23rd May 2019.
I thought we were leaving the UE, so why is the UK voting in these elections?
As it currently stands, the UK are due to leave the EU on 31st October 2019, however this is complicated business (hence the time it is taking) and there’s a possibility we may not actually leave. As we are still part of the EU, the UK must participate in the elections.
But why bother to vote?
Not only is important for citizens to participate in democracy, these elections provide another opportunity for the citizens of the UK to voice how they feel about being part of the EU, as many opinions may have changed since the referendum in 2016.
Who should I vote for?
A party by party guide to help people decide who to vote for can be found at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-48027580
Parties that support the UK remaining as part of the EU include the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party and Change UK. Parties who support the UK leaving the EU include UKIP and the Brexit Party.
You can see which politicians and political groups match your views in a quiz found here:
Remind me of the pros and cons of the EU
The main reasons can be found here: https://www.theweek.co.uk/brexit-0
Who can vote in the European Elections?
You must be over 18 and a British citizen or an EU or Commonwealth citizen resident in the UK in order to vote in European parliamentary elections.
How do people register to vote?
- Citizens must register to vote by 7th May.
- Many citizens may have previously registered in order to take part in elections such as the UK general election and local council elections. Citizens need only register ONCE, therefore if they have voted previously, they don’t need to reregister. They will need to update their details if they have moved address.
- Citizens can request to vote by post or nominate somebody to vote on their behalf (vote by proxy).
- You must return your postal and proxy vote application form by 5pm, 11 working days before the poll. 7th May.