Today is “Europe Day”, the 64-year anniversary of the foundation of what became the European Union. But whilst today is supposed to be a celebration of peace and unity in Europe, many Europeans are grumbling about stubbornly high unemployment rates and a sluggish economic recovery. Despite this, there are signs that the economy is growing again, and the European Commission this week raised its growth forecasts for the EU to 1.6% for 2014, a slight improvement on the 1.5% forecast in February.
Jobs and economic recovery will be the two most important issues to voters as we head into the European Parliament elections on 22-25 May. For the first time ever, the results of the European elections will decide the next President of the European Commission, and whoever fills that role will not have long to prove to citizens that they can help bring down jobless rates across the continent.
In the run-up to the elections, we will be putting questions to the candidates for Commission President and publishing their responses here. We are using the same rules as the Eurovision TV debate on 15 May to decide which candidates take part, meaning they must be nominated by one of the political parties represented in the European Parliament, the party making the nomination must be represented in one of the seven officially recognized political groups in the Parliament and only one presidential candidate can be represented per political group.
We did invite Alexis Tsipras from the Radical Left to take part, but he did not agree to an interview in time.
For our third question to the candidates, we asked them how they are going to help create jobs in the first year of office. What concrete proposals did they have to bring down unemployment – particularly among young people? We began by talking to Martin Schulz, the official candidate for the Social Democrats (whose manifesto priorities are available here).
Which candidate for European Commission President do YOU want to win? What should the next Commission President do to bring down unemployment – particularly among young people? And who will YOU be voting for? Make YOUR voice heard now and take part in Debating Europe Vote 2014, the first ever pan-European online e-Vote ahead of the European Parliament elections!