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European elections: what would swing your vote?

 

The European elections are upon us. With just 22 days to go until the polling stations open, our MEPs and prospective MEPs are doing everything they can to convince us that they will champion our interests all the way to Brussels. But if this is the first you’ve heard of the EU elections then don’t worry, you’re not alone…

In 2009 only 34 percent of British people turned out to vote at the last EU elections. This may be because most of us don’t know who our MEPs are, what they stand for, or what the Parliament they’re elected to does. But if you’re interested in the kind of things we’re interested in – healthy rivers and seas, protected habitats, halting illegal logging or fishing, or action on climate change – then the European elections should matter to you.

Our MEPs are at the forefront of making laws that protect our environment, so we need to ensure they are making the right decisions, and standing up for strong environmental policy. All of this means that, on 22 May, your vote really does count!

Did you know that about 80 percent of environmental legislation derives from Europe?

Last year, WWF-UK and others commissioned a study looking at what the EU has delivered for the environment since the 1970s. It concluded that – in general –  EU environmental legislation and policies have raised the bar to improve management and protection of our natural habitats and wildlife, and stimulate low carbon industries and greener economies.

There have been exceptions – the Common Agricultural Policy has driven wildlife declines across Europe – but that’s all the more reason to ensure our MEPs and candidates hear a strong message now: that they need to do better on environmental issues if they find themselves on the Eurostar to Brussels after May’s elections.

Cliffs and sea, Cornwall. Copyright: WWF-UKCliffs and sea, Cornwall © WWF-UK

Whether we like it or not, the decisions our MEPs make matter. It was MEPs who signed off the Common Fisheries Policy reform, enshrining a target to fish at sustainable levels (even though it has taken the EU far too long to get to a fishing policy that looks like a good thing for the environment). MEPs helped bring about a 2020 target for renewable electricity, greenhouse gas emissions reductions and energy efficiency. And they have helped safeguard thousands of rare and endangered species in protected areas.

We want our newly elected MEPs to stand up for the environment and support:

  • A legally-binding package of climate and energy targets for 2030
  • An end to illegal wildlife and timber trade
  • Marine protection and healthy fish stocks
  • A low-carbon and resource-efficient economy
WWF Panda EU logo © WWF-UKWWF Panda EU logo © WWF-UK

Do you know your MEPs?

There are 73 in the UK in total, spread across 12 electoral regions. Find out who your local representatives are.

Will you help us?

Below are the Twitter accounts of all the UK parties. Ask them to ensure their MEP candidates stand up for the environment! An example Tweet could be: @[insert political party] Will you stand up for the environment? Tell us what issues you care about using #EP2014 http://bit.ly/1oHbxTB

If you live in England:

@conservatives, @theGreenParty, @LibDems, @UKLabour, @UKIP

Or if you live in Scotland:

@scotgp, @scotlibdems, @scottishlabour, @scottories, @ukip, @thesnp

Or if you live in Wales:

@Plaid_Cymru, @welshlabour, @WelshConserv, @WelshLibDems

So, if you want a Europe and a planet where people live in harmony with nature, then raise your voice, engage with the MEP candidates, and use your vote on 22 May.

What do you think about the European elections? Will you be voting? Leave a comment on Cara’s blog.

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