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Children at the Parlamentarium skywalk in Brussels. Alamy Stock Photo

Roberta Metsola How to defend the European Union and democracy? Vote.

Writing in The Journal on Europe Day, the President of the European Parliament calls for voters to speak up and shape their future.

TODAY WE ARE one month away from the European elections. The largest multinational democratic exercise in the world. A moment of choice, of direction and responsibility.

However, over the last months we have become increasingly aware of those who do not wish us to succeed. There is not a week passing without malicious forces, foreign powers, websites and social media accounts exposed of spreading disinformation and propaganda.

These attempts to undermine our democracy and the way we do things in Europe, openly and with respect for freedom of speech, are extremely serious and worrying. There can be no doubt that our common response must match that.

We know that there are those for whom the simple existence of the European Parliament – the European Union – is a threat. Those who view autocracy as an answer. Those who will do anything to undermine our democratic processes, to flood our channels with propaganda, or even outright manipulation. Those who sow doubt, even in our democratic processes and the outcome of elections.

This is why the importance of these elections cannot be overstated. In a year where one fourth of the world’s population will head for the ballot box, and where more people live outside a democracy than in one, we have a collective responsibility to stand up for our way of life. To fight back against those trying to undermine, and think critically about what we see and read, particularly online.

We do so by speaking up and by being honest. These elections matter. The result will decide the direction of Europe for the coming five years. The elected Members of the European Parliament will represent you and your country in the European Union and they will adopt laws and policies on migration, security, climate, that will affect us all, every day. This is democracy in action and the best way to safeguard it is to vote.

Democracy is not a given.

Generations before us have had to fight for it. Earlier this month, we celebrated 20 years since the 2004 enlargement and the freedom it brought to millions in 10 new member states, because there are still large parts of Europe where people recall living in totalitarian societies, with no voting rights.

The 9th of May, Europe Day, is a day to look back to 1950 with inspiration from that idea of building a European community of freedom and rights. A Europe where war is unthinkable and materially impossible, but one on which we base dreams and build opportunities grounded in fundamental values of freedom, the rule of law and democracy.

On Europe Day, one month before the European Parliament elections, I appeal to over 350 million Europeans who have the right to vote, to take responsibility and to participate in one of the biggest democratic exercises in the world: Do not take Europe for granted. Defend it. Shape it. Be it. Vote.

Today, 9 May, is Europe Day. Ireland takes to the polls in local and European Parliament elections on Friday, 7 June. To discover which candidates are running in your constituency – and what they are all about – click through to our candidate tracker in the election centre below> 

This work is co-funded by Journal Media and a grant programme from the European Parliament. Any opinions or conclusions expressed in this work are the author’s own. The European Parliament has no involvement in nor responsibility for the editorial content published by the project. For more information, see here.


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