I personally don´t believe in the effectiveness of European elections. Even though some 70% of our national legislation is now decided by the European Parliament (and the European Council), I feel like I´m voting abstractions. That doesn´t mean that I don´t believe in the EU, just like americans do believe in Obama: it´s something I don´t understand completely, but I really think it´s better than nothing.
I´ve been working in EU-related issues for ten years now, covering all kind of stories in Spain and Brussels and still don´t understand how come we don´t have built a new electoral system. Just like I don´t understand the Spanish system. Would it be that difficult to run global candidates with their own programmes facing current and common necessities? Someone preferably unknown in our local political arena? Are our national parties so similar? Does the Spanish Partido Popular, for instance, have anything in common with any of the other national parties in the European People´s Party?
Here´s a European example of disfunctionality: the current president of the Commission, Durao Barroso, was working in the minor leagues (he was only president of Portugal) when someone invited him to leave his position in Lisbon after 22 months and join the EU as a…President of the Commission!! I’m sure I´m missing something here.
Despite my very personal impressions, I think there is a reason for this elections: we all need to know that we belong to something bigger than our countries, that we have common interests and face similar challenges with other 26 countries in addition to and above our national and old-fashioned entertainments. This is a truth. And we all Europeans should know that there are more and more decisions that affect us directly, and that they are being set up in Brussels. But when I listen to the radio in Spain I don´t really think Europe exists.
In other words, when the EU says: “Vote”, they are probable trying to say: “Did you know that there´s something called European Union?” “Did you know that the highway you use everyday in Ireland, Greece or Spain has been built with European funds coming from taxes from the citizens of Germany, France, The Netherlands or Denmark?” “Did you know that homosexuality is not a crime in Lithuania or Romania since they joined the EU?” “Did you know that you can work and live freely in any of the other member States?” or “Are you aware of that your Italian son is going to study in Cyprus with an Erasmus scholarship and he may probably fall in love with an Estonian girl and then you are going to be a blond baby´s grandmother?” And someone will think: “Oh, they must be talking about the European Economic Community again”.