Europe Day 2019 – Our Time To Vote
May 9, 2019
Emma Kerins, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Chambers Ireland, outlines why this year’s Europe Day is more important than in previous years, with European Elections to be held at the end of this month & today’s Sibiu Summit of EU leaders marking the end of a two year dialogue on the ‘Future of Europe’
Held annually on the 9 May, Europe Day celebrates peace and unity in Europe. The date marks the anniversary of the historical ‘Schuman declaration‘, where at a speech in Paris in 1950, Robert Schuman, the then French foreign minister, set out his idea for a new form of political cooperation in Europe, which would make war between Europe’s nations unthinkable.
His vision was to create a European institution that would pool and manage coal and steel production. A treaty creating such a body was signed just under a year later. Schuman’s proposal is considered to be the beginning of what is now the European Union.
Fast forward to 2019, where we are not only due to hold elections for the European Parliament at this end of the month, but the EU is also drawing to a close two years of discussion on the Future of Europe. At his 2017 State of the European Union address, President Juncker unveiled a roadmap detailing the main steps towards a more united, stronger and more democratic Union. Later today, at a summit in Sibiu, Romania, national leaders are expected to mark the culmination of this process with a renewed commitment to an EU that delivers on the issues that really matter to people.
Through its membership of the European Union, Ireland has become a much more innovative, competitive and prosperous economy. As set out in recently published polling data by European Movement Ireland, Ireland continues to be among the most pro-European of all member states, with 93% of respondents supporting Ireland’s continued membership of the Union.
Chambers of commerce in Ireland, and across Europe, similarly share this pro-EU outlook. Parliament elections this May will give businesses and citizens the chance to continue to shape the future of Europe and the degree to which Ireland benefits from it.
However, European elections are often referred to as ‘second-order’ elections, with lower voter participation than others. This is the case, despite the influence EU institutions have on important policy briefs, with legislation on trade, taxation and regulation all dealt with in Brussels. Chambers across Ireland want a Europe that is open for business, and a Europe that creates jobs and growth. We call on voters and businesses to think seriously about the kind of Europe they want to be a part of and elect candidates who will represent Ireland’s interests as the Future of Europe debate evolves.
As part of our manifesto, we are calling on candidates to prioritise the following issues should they be elected;
- Investment– We want candidates to work for a Europe that invests in its cities and regions
- Trade– Ireland, as a small open economy, needs an ambitious global trade agenda that delivers for all
- Competitiveness– MEPs must ensure that a competitive and co-operative approach to taxation and regulation is delivered upon
- A Digital Future– MEPs must think seriously about how they can promote innovation and ensure that the EU is fully connected Digital Single Market
- Sustainability– In addressing climate changes, MEPs must commit to ensuring there is a supportive framework for a more sustainable circular economy
In the coming fortnight, we are calling on our members to support the “Our Time To Vote Campaign” and proactively engage with all candidates running in the three constituencies across the country. Talk to them about your local priorities but also ask them how they plan to deliver for your regions on all of the above issues.
Questions For Your Candidates
- What should the EU do to support investment in our cities and regions?
- What more can the EU do to support Irish exporters?
- What is your view on EU action on taxation?
- How can the EU support innovation and the digital economy?
- What role does the EU have in supporting business to adapt to the circular economy?
For more information on what EU institutions do for you, visit our website.