European Parliament spokesman: next elections affect 400 million citizens
Spokesperson of the European Parliament, Jaume Duch, delivers a speech during a breakfast briefing held in Madrid, Spain, 21 March 2018. EPA-EFE FILE/PACO CAMPOS
Brussels, Feb 28 (efe-epa).- The next European elections are the most important in the history of the European Parliament and their outcome will affect the lives of some 400 million citizens, the institution's spokesperson has told EFE.
Jaume Duch, who is also the EP's Director-General of Communication, said the institutional campaign was intentionally "apolitical" so that citizens were made aware of the significance of the elections and would be encouraged to turn out to cast their ballots.
"The elections service to mold the future of the European Union, how it will work in the next 5, 10 or 15 years and if there's anyone who it's going to affect it is young people, who enjoy full rights because of their European citizenship," he told EFE. "They must be aware of how the EU is evolving."
He said Brexit, the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the EU, was a "wake-up call," pointing out that about 75 percent of young Brits wanted their country to remain in the bloc but that the majority "did not go and vote, and the oldest generations decided to take the United Kingdom out and with that, the young people out of the EU."
He said polls had shown in the past two years a 20 percent increase in the number of Europeans who believe staying in the EU was beneficial.
He said in countries like Sweden, the Netherlands and Denmark, opinions had been divided on the EU. "Since Brexit, the percentage of citizens who consider that they have to stay in the European Union has shot up to 77 percent, because Brexit shows the many inconveniences involved in leaving it," he said.
Duch acknowledged that polls predicted an increase in the number of eurosceptics or europhobes who would make up the next European Parliament, but warned the extreme right should never hold 20-25 percent of the seats.
He said it was important two-thirds of the Parliament remained pro-European and the key was to see if the extreme right self-imploded or got organized and involved in the work of the Parliament, which would mean they could exert more influence.
The first challenge for the 2019-2024 version of the Parliament, Duch said, was negotiating the budget for the next seven years.
By Carlos Martos