Empowering Youth | The Role of Youth Workers in the 2024 European Parliament Elections

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Introduction

The European Parliament elections, scheduled for June 6 to 9, 2024, represent a crucial opportunity to shape European policies for the next five years. As this significant democratic exercise approaches, youth workers play a vital role in guiding young voters, especially those casting their ballots for the first time. It’s essential to understand what the elections are about, how voting impacts the EU’s future, and why participation is important.

The European Parliament Elections

The European Parliament stands as the world’s only directly elected transnational assembly, with up to 750 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). Held every five years, the last elections took place in May 2019. This year, European citizens will elect 720 MEPs to represent their interests at the EU level.

The Powers of the European Parliament

The European Parliament collaborates with representatives from EU country governments to create and decide on laws affecting all aspects of life in the EU. These laws cover areas such as the economy, poverty reduction, climate change, and security.

MEPs highlight critical political, economic, and social issues, upholding values like human rights, freedom, democracy, equality, and the rule of law. They approve the EU budget, monitor spending, elect the President of the European Commission, appoint Commissioners, and hold them accountable.

European Parliament Elections at the National Level

Citizens in each EU member state elect their national representatives. The number of representatives varies by country, based on population and a principle of degressive proportionality. For example, Germany will elect 96 MEPs, while Cyprus, Luxembourg, and Malta will each elect 6.

National elections are contested by national political parties, but elected MEPs typically join transnational political groups. Most national parties are affiliated with European-wide political parties.

Election rules differ by country, but common principles include:

  • Elections spanning four days, from Thursday to Sunday.
  • Proportional representation based on votes received.
  • EU citizens living in another EU country can vote and stand for election there, often requiring a specific bureaucratic procedure. 
  • Each citizen can vote only once.

How Youth Workers Can Support Young Voters

Youth workers are instrumental in helping young people navigate the complexities of the European Parliament elections. A key resource in this effort is the informative platform created by the European Parliament. This tool provides detailed, country-specific information on electoral rules, making it easier for young voters to understand the process.

Using the Platform

The platform is designed to answer frequently asked questions in simple language, making it accessible for young voters. Youth workers can use this tool to:

  • Educate young people on the importance of the elections and the impact of their vote.
  • Provide step-by-step guidance on how to register and vote, including specific requirements for EU citizens living in other EU countries.
  • Highlight the broader implications of the elections on issues that matter to young people, such as climate change, education, and employment.

Engaging Young Voters

Youth workers can organize workshops, information sessions, and discussions to engage young voters. By fostering a deeper understanding of the electoral process and the European Parliament’s role, youth workers can empower young people to participate actively in the democratic process.

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