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COMECE Secretary General on why European Parliament elections are important

(Vatican Radio) This week the 28 EU nations will elect a new European Parliament with up to 380 million voters choosing 751 deputies to represent them. In a statement issued in the run-up to the elections, the Catholic Bishops of Europe reaffirmed their support for the European project and urged all EU citizens to cast their ballot.
But what is at stake in this huge electoral process and why are opinion polls predicting that barely 40 percent of EU citizens will bother to vote? COMECE is the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community and its Secretary- General is Father Patrick Daly. He told Susy Hodges why these elections are important.

Listen to the full interview with Father Daly: RealAudioMP3

Father Daly described the elections to the European Parliament as a “vital moment” in the exercise of our democratic ownership and our democratic control over “those who govern in our name.” He said they are also important because “there are a “number of crucial issues that can only be solved at a European level.” Among those issues, he cited the “ increasing levels of poverty” among EU citizens and the “alarmingly high levels” of youth unemployment.

Asked why there appears to be a disconnect between the European Union and the citizens of the 28 member nations amidst widespread apathy about these elections; Father Daly believes this is because the European project is now in its third generation” and people in the continent now take its benefits for granted. “ Most EU citizens…. have little appreciation of the historical imperatives at its foundation”…… or of “how essential the EU is to their wellbeing and to the overall peace and stability of Europe," he said.

Father Daly also paid tribute to the “foundational values” of the European Union, saying they were largely based on the Catholic Church’s social teaching and said it’s worth highlighting once again this key contribution.