EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT ELECTIONS
Despite a very vocal minority of nationalistic party leaders pushing for a “Nexit”, “Frexit”, or “Italeave”, a rather large percentage of EU citizens actually view the pan-European organization of nations mostly favorably: 74% of EU citizens are confident that the union promotes peace, 64% believe it embodies democratic values, and 55% feel that the EU ultimately is good for prosperity. And why shouldn’t we? After all, over the past 5 years the current European Parliament and Commission have:
- Abolished roaming fees for calling, sending text messages and using mobile internet abroad in the EU since 15 June 2017. The European Commission has taken action to address the high roaming charges paid by consumers for using their mobile phones when traveling abroad in another EU Member State.
- Adopted new rules to assist parents and caregivers in reconciling their work and family lives. New rules for a better work-life balance, adopted on 4 April 2019, aim to increase the employment rate for women, create incentives for fathers to take family-related leave, and promote gender equality.
- Incentivized and promoted the implementation of its 2030 goals to be in line with the targets set by the Paris Agreement. The share of climate-related spending should be increased from 20% to 30% as soon as possible, and all remaining spending should be Paris-compliant and not counter-productive to climate efforts.
- Done away with unjustified geo-blocking. As of 3 December 2018, Europeans are able to shop online without unjustified geo-blocking, wherever they are in the EU. For citizens, this means that they are able to buy new electrical goods online, rent a car, or get their concert tickets from another European country. It broadens our choices and often increases our purchasing power.
- Implemented the General Data Protection Regulation (EU) 2016/679 (“GDPR”) on 25 May 2018 to ensure data protection and privacy for all citizens of the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA). It regulates export of personal data outside of EU and EEA areas and introduces measures to return control to individuals over their personal data. GDPR forces companies to be transparent regarding the use of your personal data to make automated decisions that affect you and allows you to prevent them from using your data in a manner that you disagree with.
In short, because of the EU, companies operating in the EU and EEA must treat us fairly whenever we want to call, check our email or watch Netflix while we’re on holidays. If you’re a dad, you get the opportunity to spend more time with your children and no one has to sacrifice their career to also be there for their family. We also get a cleaner environment so we don’t have to tell our grandkids “Well, we could have given you a safer planet, but it was too expensive”. And, the EU has given us the tools to fight back against misuse of our personal data as digital technologies become more and more important in our daily lives.
However, there is still a large part of the population that does not view the EU as positively. According to that same PEW research, a small majority of us feel the EU is intrusive (51%) and inefficient (54%). And a considerable 62% of EU citizens think that it does not understand the needs of its citizens. Especially that last one may be our own fault: the final turnout figure for the 2014 European Parliament elections reached an all-time low at 42.54% and marked a continued downward turnout since the first direct elections in 1979.
If we don’t show up and make our voices heard, it’s no surprise that we feel like our elected officials don’t understand our needs. And now that the online space is full of voices spreading disinformation, there is a real risk that we will end up with a European Parliament that no longer represents our interests. We cannot leave the online space to the naysayers and xenophobes that are extremely effective at mobilizing voters using fear appeal tactics. We need to claim that online space for ourselves, present the facts, and get the representation we deserve.
So, if you didn’t have any plans between the 23rd and the 26th of May, you do now!
Make an informed decision on whom to elect as your representative. Check out the European election party matcher on Politico and their resources on the 2019 Elections. Check out what the EU has done for us in the past 5 years, and read up on what the European Parliament has to say about their own elections. These resources are a starting point. If there are any other resources you think we should know about, please tweet at us at https://twitter.com/MapDisinfo (@MapDisinfo) or check out our website: https://mappingdisinformation.org