Empowering Democracy: How EU Is Preparing Citizens for Next Elections

European Elections - May 9, 2024

As the European Union prepares for its next round of elections, the spotlight is on the key pillars of democracy: transparency, accurate information and citizen participation. Elections are the cornerstone of democratic governance, allowing citizens to influence the development of Europe. However, persistent challenges such as misinformation and transparency gaps pose significant threats to the integrity of elections. Recognising these issues, the EU has launched ambitious initiatives to strengthen democracy and increase voter engagement in its Member States.

Tackling misinformation and ensuring transparency

At a time when misinformation can spread faster than verified facts, the EU has taken proactive steps with the launch of the Defence of Democracy package and the European Democracy Action Plan. These initiatives aim to ensure fair elections by promoting an environment where factual, transparent information prevails over falsehoods.

A Eurobarometer survey on democracy underlined the importance of accurate information, with 51% of EU citizens highlighting it as essential to make informed voting decisions. This statistic reflects a growing awareness among Europeans of the impact of reliable data on the health of their democratic institutions.

The role of open data in democratic processes

At the heart of the EU’s strategy to empower its citizens is the promotion of open data. Open data refers to the practice of making data freely available for anyone to use and redistribute, without copyright or other restrictions. By democratising access to information, open data serves as a crucial tool in the fight against misinformation and increases transparency in the electoral process.

An exemplary platform that illustrates the impact of open data is TrackMyEU.org. This platform provides users with insights into the workings of the EU and is an invaluable resource for understanding its legislation and priorities. TrackMyEU.org includes a comprehensive database of policies, legislative decisions, votes and profiles of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). This platform is particularly useful during election periods, as it equips voters with knowledge about EU priorities, ongoing legislative discussions and the MEPs responsible for these decisions.

Benefits of open data platforms

The benefits of platforms like TrackMyEU.org go beyond simply providing information. They actively promote a culture of informed decision-making among citizens. By facilitating access to detailed legislative processes and outcomes, these platforms help to demystify the often complex nature of EU activities. Voters who understand the issues at stake and the positions of different MEPs are better equipped to make choices that align with their values and aspirations for the future of the EU.

Moreover, open data promotes transparency by making government activities visible and understandable to the public. This transparency is crucial for building trust between citizens and their institutions, which is essential for the stability and effectiveness of democracies.

Ensuring fair and informed voting

The EU’s commitment to improving the electoral process through open data and robust measures against misinformation demonstrates its commitment to upholding democratic values. By ensuring that voters are well informed and that the electoral process is transparent and fair, the EU is strengthening the foundations of its democratic governance.

Challenges ahead

Despite these initiatives, the road to fully secure elections free from misinformation remains challenging. The dynamic nature of information technology means that new threats can emerge as quickly as old ones are mitigated. The EU continues to adapt its policies to these evolving challenges, seeking to stay ahead of those who seek to undermine democratic processes.
As the EU approaches elections, the initiatives it has taken to empower voters and protect democracy are more important than ever. The Defence of Democracy package and the European Democracy Action Plan, along with platforms such as TrackMyEU.org, are vital tools in this ongoing effort. They not only provide citizens with the information they need to make informed choices, but also strengthen the integrity of the electoral process.

At this crucial time, the role of informed citizens in shaping the future of the European Union cannot be overstated. By voting with a clear understanding of the issues and the choices available to them, EU citizens are not just voters; they are active participants in the democratic process, shaping the Europe they want to live in. The EU’s commitment to open data and transparent governance ensures that every vote cast is a step towards a more democratic, informed and united Europe.

The ECR puts increased transparency and democratic accountability at the heart of its agenda and considers them essential to the reform of the European Union. Indeed, it believes that without increased transparency and accountability of the EU institutions, agencies, budget and policies, public trust and credibility in the Union will continue to decline.