2014 election to test public support for EU, says Croatian Parliament Speaker

Zagreb - The 2014 European election will be, in these challenging times of economic crisis, a test of public support for European Union institutions, Croatian Parliament Speaker Josip Leko said on Monday at a presentation of a campaign for the European Parliament election to be held on May 22-25 next year.

This will be the first EP election since the Lisbon Treaty has gone into force and 500 million EU citizens will elect members of the EP and the president of the European Commission directly for the first time, Leko said. Commenting on the increasingly low turnout at EP elections, with Croatia near the bottom, he said the EU should be brought closer to citizens and that they should be made to feel that their voice was important and that they could impact Europe's future.

Citing a Eurobarometer survey, Leko concluded that the relationship between the EU and its citizens was ambivalent. "We can conclude that the European Union has both a positive and a negative image, perhaps it's better to say neutral, which indicates a certain distance between the citizens and the Union." He said such a situation called for establishing direct communication with the citizens to restore their confidence in institutions and ensure greater clarity in decision-making in the EU.

The ultimate goal is citizens' active participation in EU politics, for which politicians bear a lot of responsibility, Leko said. (Hina)

Author: Hina/Office of the Speaker