21 May 2014

Ten reasons why you should vote in the European elections

From making pigs happy to making bankers sad – ten reasons why, whatever you think about the European Union, you should be voting in the elections on Thursday.

Agriculture and animal welfare

Happy pig

In 2012 alone farmers in the UK received direct payments worth £2.1bn. In addition to that, £47m was used to finance market measures and £5,000 was spent on rural development projects in the United Kingdom.

The EU has banned battery hens and cruel pig keeping methods – some UK candidates want to go further while others say that cannot be at the expense of higher food prices.

Banking reforms

Sad banker

The EU has reformed banks and financial sector and has been a key player over last five years. It was the European parliament that put forward the cap on bankers bonuses. The next EP must decide on getting lending flowing again and helping young people get on housing ladder and more.

The European Union in April also signed off on new laws to make it easier to shut problem banks. The vote in the European parliament gives the final stamp of approval for an agency to shut weak lenders in the euro zone.

Employment rights


European Union (EU) employment law protects the rights of workers across the EU. It covers areas such as: conditions of employment such as working time, part-time and fixed-term work, posting of workers, discrimination, equal pay and the protection of pregnant workers.

It’s important to note that, although the laws apply to the whole of the EU, they often operate differently between member states owing to differences in the way the laws were implemented at the national level.



The energy challenge is one of the biggest issues facing Europe today. The prospect of sharply rising energy prices and increasing dependence on imports makes our energy supply less reliable, and jeopardises the whole economy.

The new EP will continue to debate in the preparations for and EU level implementation of the new world climate agreement expected in Paris in 2015.

Free movement


The free movement of persons is a fundamental right guaranteed to European Union (EU) citizens. It is realised through the area of freedom, security and justice without internal borders.

Currently, there are some political challenges to free movement – some MEP candidates want to see it restricted, others want to see more of it. So free movement will be a major topic in the next EP.



The total allocation from EU funding for the UK between 2007 and 2013 was £8.6bn. These investments have helped the UK to create more than 87,000 jobs; assist the start-up of more than 29,000 businesses; support more than 1,770 research and technical development projects.

For the period of 2014-2020 the UK will manage thirteen operational programmes under the EU cohesion policy. In total, the UK has been allocated around £9.6bn.



Since 2010, the EU has funded over 270 research projects either carried out by UK universities or in partnership with them. Examples include research on the influenza virus. The research is being conducted in the University of Kent and it is expected to end in February 2017, having a total cost of £81,000.

Another example is is the urban project entitled “cities and science communication: innovative approaches to engaging the public” funded by the European Union and Birmingham City University as a partner.

Roaming charges

Roaming charges

The European parliament in April voted to end mobile phone roaming fees by 2016. In a session in Brussels, lawmakers backed telecom reform legislation that will phase out roaming fees across the 28-country European Union by December 2015.

The aim of the reform is to foster a so-called “single market” for telecom services across the region. Network operators however have warned that your domestic phone bill could rise dramatically in order to cover the costs of abolishing roaming charges.


The European Union (EU) and United States (US) are currently negotiating a trade and investment deal, which would create the world’s largest free trade area.

But the many challenges faced and increasing public opposition put successful conclusion of an agreement in doubt.



The new European infrastructure policy for the period of 2014-2020 triples EU financing for transport to £21bn. The new infrastructure policy will be supported by a comprehensive network of routes, feeding into the core network at regional and national level.

Projects in the UK that could receive financing include rail upgrading, interconnections port and multimodal platforms on the route Felixstowe – Midlands, as well as the upgrade of the freight line for the route Birmingham – Reading – Southampton.