The European elections and the European Union


As the European Parliament elections begin on Thursday, here are the key facts about the continental poll and the European Union.


Votes for Members of the European Parliament will be cast across the European Union from June 6 to 9, but will vary by country.

The Netherlands kicks off on Thursday, June 6. Ireland follows on June 7, and Latvia, Malta and Slovakia the next day. The Czech Republic and Italy will vote over two days: June 7 and 8 and June 8 and 9 respectively. Elections will be held in the rest of the EU on Sunday, June 9.

Who votes?

There are almost 360 million eligible voters in the EU. The minimum voting age varies, but for most European countries it is 18 years.

For the first time, minors are also allowed to vote in Germany, as the country’s voting age for the European elections has been lowered from 18 to 16.

This has increased the number of eligible voters in Germany from around 61.5 million in 2019 to just under 65 million this year.

Who is chosen?

A total of 720 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) will be elected from many thousands of candidates.

This is fewer members than at the last election, partly because the parliament shrank when Britain left the EU in 2020.

Where is parliament located?

The European Parliament has two seats: in Brussels and in Strasbourg, France.

Most of the full ‘plenary’ sessions, where all Members of the European Parliament meet to vote on legislation, are held in Strasbourg. The Brussels parliament is mainly used for other daily parliamentary matters.

Do voters choose who will sit on the EU’s other legislative bodies?

No, the elections will only determine who can sit in the European Parliament.

The EU’s other main legislative body, the Council of the EU, represents the member states. It brings together national ministers in different formations, for example all 27 EU Ministers of Foreign Affairs or Ministers of Education, to discuss topics of common interest.

The European Commission – which proposes draft legislation for the other two institutions to examine, amend or even reject – has not been elected. It is led by 27 commissioners, including the commission president, each of whom is nominated by his or her country after the European elections.

How big is the EU?

The population of the 27 countries of the EU as a whole is just under 450 million. The countries have a combined GDP of almost €17 trillion and account for around 15% of global trade.

How old is the EU?

The 1957 Treaty of Rome established the European Economic Community, a predecessor of the EU. Since the Maastricht Treaty of 1992, the group of countries has used the name European Union.

Since then, more and more countries have joined the EU. The most important expansion took place in 2004 with the accession of ten, mainly Central and Eastern European countries. Britain is the only country left.

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