Cast your ballots in June 2024: EESC is calling on Europeans to vote for a united and democratic Europe

With democracy around the world in decline, the proliferation of disinformation and mounting dissatisfaction amid rising inflation and the threat of war, much is at stake in the vote for the new European Parliament.

On 20 March, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) called on European citizens to use their democratic right to vote and cast their ballots in the fast-approaching European elections, due to take place between 6 and 9 June 2024.

In a debate The 2024 European elections through a civil society lens, which saw the participation of civil society activists and the national economic and social councils of France and Bulgaria, the EESC said it wanted to mobilise its network of at least 90 million people across the EU and make sure Europeans head to the polls to decide who will represent them in the European Parliament over the next five years.

The EESC made its call in a resolution adopted at the plenary session, which brought together its three groups representing Europe’s employers, trade unions and civil society organisations.

The organisations that our members belong to have deep roots in national civil societies and are best placed to mobilise and bring out people to vote. We can reach out to everyone, we can get people to vote, and we must do it: it is our moral duty, EESC president Oliver Röpke told the plenary.

He said the EESC had joined forces with the European Parliament to help boost the turnout, which is usually much lower than in national elections, particularly in some Member States.

The EESC president stressed that, against the backdrop of democracy in retreat around the world and in some Member States, the stakes seemed particularly high for the 2024 elections.

These elections are not the silver bullet to end our troubles, resolve our fears, or alleviate  citizens’ worries, but they are a legitimate way of expressing our wishes, demanding a better future, and holding those in power to account, Mr Röpke said.

The EESC resolution on European elections

We have gone through difficult times, but no-one can deny that the EU has guaranteed peace, democracy, economic prosperity and social progress for its Member States and citizens. Thanks to the Union, we have the freedom to work, study and do business in all EU countries, the EESC said in the resolution.

The resolution states that no EU country can cope with challenges like rising inflation, wars, migration or the climate emergency alone: Nationalism, populism and single-state solutions are not the answer. Collaboration, cooperation and convergence are.

Preserve democracy and on 6-9 June vote for a democratic, united, sustainable, competitive and social European Union, said Christa Schweng, former EESC president and resolution rapporteur, representing the Employers' Group.

We have to defend EU values and rights. We need more integration, from a social, economic but also a political point of view; more cohesion and more solidarity is needed to address the challenges ahead of us, said rapporteur Cinzia Del Rio, representing the Workers' Group.

Let’s vote for an EU with all citizens at its heart, providing opportunities to everyone, enabling them to fulfil their potential and promote their participation in civic and political life, said rapporteur Ioannis Vardakastanis, representing the Civil Society Organisations' Group.

The voice of EU civil society

Civil society representatives who participated in the plenary session debate all stressed the pivotal role of the European elections for the future of the European project and preserving European values and democracy.

Marilyn Neven, from the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), said that protecting electoral integrity has become the single most important priority if you care about the future of democracy, if democracy is to live another day.

Organised civil society has a duty to inform and document the 2024 European elections to support citizens against disinformation. This is crucial for the future of the European project and democracy, said Thierry Beaudet, president of the French Economic and Environmental Council.

Authors of the participatory pre-election campaign EurHope, Young European Federalists and the organisation, presented their Agenda of Hope, which lists priorities for Europe chosen by young people, with institutions, the economy and the environment topping the list.

Hope does not mean staying on your couch hoping things will get better but getting up and taking action. Things do not change by themselves; you have to make them happen. This is the core of active citizenship, go vote and go participate in civic life!, said Christelle Savall, president of the Young European Federalists.

Next steps

The EESC will adopt another resolution in July, focusing on civil society’s demands for the newly elected European Parliament and the Commission. These will include appeals for more citizen participation; more dialogue with organised civil society; more youth involvement, a more democratic and inclusive public space; and an economy that works for all.