Despite an existential crisis, the European Union, with 500 million citizens and an economy producing over Us$16.6 trillion, remains a major player in shaping the future course of global politics and economy—what happens in Brussels ripples outward. This has been a year of change for the European Union, as Euroskepticism has risen, fueled by questions of whether Brussels is up for—or even has a right to—directing the future of the EU members. In May 2014, this was reflected in the results of the continent-wide European Parliament elections. The changes taking place in Brussels, stemming from the change in dialogue from the populations of the 28 Member states, will set the course of the European Union for the next five years, and will affect global progress in issues ranging from climate change to negotiations with Iran to worldwide economic recovery.
The European Parliament sees a demographic change, with 751 new MEPs elected; in November, a new European Commission will take power, with one commissioner from each of the 28 countries. In December, the European Council, an intergovernmental chamber uniting the 28 Heads of state, will choose a new President of the European Commission by the beginning of December.
This election was notable not only for the changes it would bring to the politics of the EU, but also for the expansion of democracy that it brought to Europeans as citizens of the European Union. These 2014 elections marked the first time that European citizens were voting indirectly for the President of the European Commission, as the European Parliament must approve the President. However, this will take a good bit of coalition-building and negotiating, as Theo Moore discusses in his opening article of this special edition, because the question of who “won” the elections is not as cut and dry as it may seem.
But then, what election ever is? To an outsider, the issues surrounding the European Parliament elections may be clouded by the variety of parties seeking to have their voice heard or by the clash of 28 Member states’ cultures over the different approaches to solving the problems the European Union faces. since September 2013, the Diplomatic Courier has sought to clarify these issues and problems through coverage that incorporates viewpoints from Brussels, Greece, and Washington, DC. Even though the voting booths are now closed for the next fi ve years, there is no doubt that the questions and ideas discussed in this special edition will resonate throughout Brussels for some time.
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