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Historic European Elections Begin

Historic European Elections Begin
NCRE Expert Expects Centre-Right Shift

NCRE Homepage: www.europe.canterbury.ac.nz

10 June 2004

During the next four days, Europe will conduct the largest exercise in democracy in its history. The United Kingdom will be the first to vote in the European Parliament Elections, June 10 to 13.

At stake are 732 seats for five-year terms in a Parliament that has grown increasingly influential with the recent European Union expansion to 25 nations. The European Parliament is the only one of the three EU law-making institutions the public has any direct influence over.

"This is the only opportunity for Europeans to have a voice," says Professor Martin Holland, NCRE Director. "And it’s a good indication of level of content or discontent with the EU. It’s also a weather vane for national government popularity."

The elections are expected to bring significant change to the Parliament.

"There will be a shift toward the centre-right within the Parliament," predicts Professor Holland. "Also, it is the first election for the 25 nations, so undoubtedly the new Parliament will have many inexperienced members.

Moreover, he says, the Member of European Parliament (MEP) turnover could be close to 50 percent.

"(MEP) turnover tends to be high because of typical MEPs are either at the end of their careers or early into them, and the European Parliament is seen as a stepping stone," explains Professor Holland.

The Parliament amends, approves or rejects EU laws, together with the Council of Ministers, a process called "co-decision".

This means a law is only passed when approved by both bodies. It applies to laws on consumer protection, the single market, workers' rights, asylum and immigration, the environment and animal welfare, but not foreign policy or agriculture.

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Friday Seminar: 10 June 2004, 2:10 PM, Conference Room, 2nd Floor, Geography Building, University of Canterbury

NCRE student Jamie Holder will give a presentation on her research on the relationship between the EU defence capability and the Russian military.

Jamie is also the next NCRE student to take up the European Parliament internship.

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The NCRE is the only dedicated European research centre in New Zealand. It is a multi-disciplinary Centre of Academic Excellence and Expertise that operates nationally, uniting students and scholars from a wide range of fields to research and study European issues.

The Centre has significant responsibility for the European Union's outreach efforts within New Zealand and the Pacific. Raising a critical awareness of the EU, informing government, the media and public opinion are all equally important aspects of the NCRE's core function.

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