As times are changing, so are we. Since the last European elections, the rules of the game have changed. The European Parliament now has more power, both to set the political direction of Europe and over the day-to-day decisions which affect us all. A more powerful European Parliament means more influence for everyone, more ability to deal with our problems, more ability to change what needs changing, more assertiveness to conserve what we want to keep.
These are turbulent times in the history of Europe. The crisis has made citizens aware that Europe touches the heart of their living conditions. They have understood more than ever that European countries are interdependent, and what is happening in another EU member state fully affects everyone's future prospects.
The official run-up to the 2014 European elections starts on 10 September, when the European Parliament launches its awareness and information campaign. This campaign will continue beyond the elections themselves, until the newly-elected Parliament in turn elects the next European Commission President.
Commission President José Manuel Barroso delivered the last state of the union speech to Parliament for this legislature on Wednesday. Political group leaders took the floor to set out the priorities which they feel Commission should address in the coming months. They stressed the need to restore trust in the EU, pointing out that the May 2014 European elections offer voters a real chance to choose its future.
What does the Parliament do and what are the responsibilities of the Commission? What do we mean with the European Council and how is it different from the Council of the European Union? Read our infographic for a brief guide to the EU's institutions.
In 2014 people in the EU will vote from 22-25 May to determine the new political balance of the incoming Parliament, whose first task will be to decide on a new Commission President. Check out our infographic to find out the composition of the Parliament today.
It’s easy for Irena to feel sympathy for the homeless people she serves at the soup kitchen she volunteers for. Not too long ago she and her two children were living on the streets themselves through no fault of their own. “My family has never accepted one penny from social security – we have worked wherever we could.” Because of the crisis, an increasing number of families in Europe are in a precarious financial situation.
Tiago boasts an economic sciences degree, but you wouldn’t know it from the work he does. The 28-year-old hops from one temp job to another in construction and food services. His situation is typical of the problems experienced by many in his age group. Even when young people do manage to find a job, it is often temporary and below their education level. Meanwhile Tiago is considering retraining to improve his chances: “I hope it works out this time.”
Falling prey to cyber criminals is easier than you think, as Peter Trap found out, and getting the money back much harder. The 44-year-old struggled for months to get thousands of euros back from his bank account after his personal details were stolen. The European Parliament has worked for years to ensure better protection of our online data and get tougher penalties for cybercrimes to help people such as Peter.