Elections for the European Parliament, which will determine the occupants of its 705 seats, are scheduled to occur from June 6 to 9. The only directly elected body within the European Union (EU), these elections are gaining significance as Eurosceptic sentiments, prioritising national interests, are on the rise across the EU. Analysts foresee the 2024 election as a pivotal “make or break moment” given the anticipated gains by Eurosceptics.
In the United States, President Joe Biden has emphasised the gravity of the November elections by declaring that “democracy is on the ballot.” Delivering a pointed speech a day before the third anniversary of the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, Biden urged voters to recognise the stakes involved in preserving democracy.
Meanwhile, in the UK, expectations are high for a general election in 2024. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak must call for an election by late January 2025
It’s democracy – and your vote counts
The upcoming elections share common themes that will shape the campaigns. From the economy to the climate crisis to migration and support for Ukraine, as well as the cost of living crisis.
The European Dimension
European Parliament elections have witnessed low turnouts, often viewed as elections with unclear purposes for an institution whose role is not fully understood by many. The elections are often perceived as 27 national campaigns rather than a genuinely pan-European event. However, recent polling indicates a shift in perspective. A Eurobarometer poll of 27,000 people published in December revealed increased interest in the elections, with 57% of voters expressing interest — six points higher than in the lead-up to the previous European elections in 2019. Moreover, 68% of voters intend to participate, marking a nine-point increase.
A notable 72% of respondents believe that EU membership has been beneficial for their country, and 70% feel that the EU has a meaningful impact on their daily lives. Despite this, concerns about the future persist, with 73% fearing a decline in their standard of living in the coming year. Issues related to Russia’s war against Ukraine, including the EU’s role in Europe’s security, have spurred voter engagement.
A4Action Erasmus+ Predeal
In December 2023 we took part in the A4Action organised Erasmus+ project held in Predeal, Romania. Delegates from across the EU and beyond came together to focus on key democracy issues for youth ahead of election year.
Two central themes emerged from the discussions: the importance of being well-informed and the significance of active participation through voting.
To stay well-informed for the upcoming European Parliament elections in 2024, the Predeal #BeReal participants identified the following strategies:
- Follow Reputable News Outlets: Regularly check reliable news sources and follow reputable media outlets to stay updated on political developments, candidate profiles, and key issues.
- Utilise Official Websites: Explore the official websites of the European Parliament and relevant EU institutions for official statements, policy details, and election-related information.
- Engage with Candidate Platforms: Familiarise yourself with the platforms of different candidates and political parties. Attend candidate debates, forums, and public events to understand their positions on crucial issues.
- Use Social Media Responsibly: Follow political figures, parties, and relevant organizations on social media platforms for real-time updates. However, critically evaluate information and verify facts before accepting them.
- Read Policy Documents: Dive into policy documents and manifestos released by political parties and candidates. This provides in-depth insights into their proposed solutions and priorities.
- Participate in Public Discussions: Join community forums, attend town hall meetings, and engage in public discussions to understand diverse perspectives on election issues. This can offer a more comprehensive view of public sentiment.
- Watch Debates and Interviews: Stay informed by watching debates and interviews featuring candidates. This allows you to witness their communication styles, policy articulation, and responses to important questions.
- Follow Think Tanks and Analysts: Keep an eye on analyses and reports from reputable think tanks and political analysts. Their insights can provide a deeper understanding of the broader implications of election outcomes.
- Attend Educational Events: Seek out educational events, seminars, and workshops focused on EU politics and election issues. These gatherings can enhance your understanding of complex topics and policies.
- Engage in Civic Education Programs: Participate in civic education programs, workshops, or online courses that focus on the functioning of the EU and the role of the European Parliament. This can empower you with foundational knowledge.
By employing a combination of these strategies, you can ensure a well-rounded and informed perspective on the issues surrounding the European Parliament elections in 2024.
Your Vote Matters
To remind you that your vote counts, some of the Predeal #BeReal participants made these videos, one of the many thoughtful and purposeful tasks assigned.
The World of Erasmus+
In the dynamic landscape of global education, the Erasmus+ program stands out as a beacon of opportunity for students, educators, and institutions alike. Originating in 1987, Erasmus+ has since evolved into a comprehensive initiative, fostering international cooperation in education, training, and youth development. This program, funded by the European Union, aims to promote mutual understanding and enrich participants’ experiences through mobility, collaboration, and shared knowledge.
What is Erasmus+
Erasmus+ is the EU’s programme to support education, training, youth and sport in Europe. Erasmus+ encompasses a wide range of activities and opportunities, spanning higher education, vocational education and training, school education, adult education, and youth programs. The program facilitates student and staff mobility, academic partnerships, and collaborative projects, fostering a vibrant cross-cultural exchange.
1. Higher Education Mobility: Erasmus+ provides university students with the chance to study or undertake internships abroad, promoting academic and personal growth. This not only enhances participants’ language skills but also exposes them to diverse academic approaches and cultural perspectives.
2. Staff Mobility: Professors, researchers, and administrative staff can engage in mobility actions, including teaching assignments, training, and job shadowing. This promotes the exchange of best practices and contributes to the internationalization of education institutions.
3. Strategic Partnerships: Institutions can establish strategic partnerships with others across Europe to collaborate on innovative projects, sharing expertise and resources. These partnerships aim to improve the quality of education, training, and youth work.
4. Capacity Building Projects: Erasmus+ supports projects that strengthen the capacity and modernization of education and training institutions. This includes curriculum development, infrastructure improvement, and organizational enhancements.
5. Youth Exchanges and Volunteering: The program offers opportunities for young people to participate in international exchanges, fostering intercultural dialogue and personal development. Additionally, there are volunteering initiatives that empower youth to contribute to society through meaningful projects.
How to Participate:
1. Institutional Involvement: Educational institutions, both academic and vocational, can participate by applying for accreditation and engaging in partnerships with institutions across Europe.
2. Student and Staff Application: Students and staff members interested in mobility opportunities can explore their institution’s Erasmus+ offerings, including available destinations and application procedures.
3. Project Proposals: Institutions, together with partners, can submit project proposals for collaborative ventures, strategic partnerships, and capacity-building initiatives.
4. Youth and Volunteering Opportunities: Young people interested in youth exchanges or volunteering opportunities can explore organisations in their country that are involved in Erasmus+ youth initiatives.
5. Stay Informed: Regularly check the official Erasmus+ website and national agencies for updates, deadlines, and guidelines. Staying informed is key to making the most of the program.
Erasmus+ opens doors to a world of possibilities, fostering a sense of global citizenship and enriching the educational experience for participants. By breaking down borders and encouraging collaboration, the program not only shapes individuals but also contributes to building a more interconnected and understanding world. Whether you are a student eager to explore new horizons or an institution looking to enhance your international presence, Erasmus+ offers a transformative journey into the heart of global education.