This year's European parliament elections (on 22 May in the UK) are an important opportunity for all citizens in the EU. The Quaker Council for European Affairs (QCEA) British Committee has put together the attached information pack for Local and Area Meetings, which sets out some key facts about the European Union and British representation at the European Parliament, suggests some sources of further information, and prompts Quakers to get involved in the European democratic process.
You can do this in a number of ways. You could start by finding out who are the candidates on the party lists in your local constituency. Once the party lists are finally decided (around the end of March) I will be able to send you more information about this if you haven't been able to discover it already - the pack includes sources of further information.
You could make sure people in your meeting know what the key issues in the election are - and also how politics works in the EU to translate those issues into policies. The pack has a very brief guide to the working of the EU, and much more information is available.
You could plan to contact candidates and canvass their opinions on areas of concern to Quakers - the pack mentions some key issues facing the EU and its institutions over the period of the next parliament.
You could plan to run events - whether giving information to Friends and other interested people, or even getting involved in a hustings or candidates debate - in collaboration with other local groups. The pack has some ideas about this as well, and I will send you a Powerpoint presentation at the start of April (once party manifestos have been published) which could be used for public events. If you would like to have a speaker representing QCEA at a public event, members of the British Committee may well be available - please let me know if you would like to discuss this.
Those of us working to support QCEA in the UK are keen for knowledge of the EU and how it works to be as widespread as possible. One of the consequences of this would be that voters in the UK are more aware of what they are supporting in the election on 22 May, and won't simply be influenced by the loudest extreme voices. The EU is a force for social and economic good, the world's largest donor of development aid, and probably the most significant peacebuilding project in history. It's not perfect, but it is a democratic set of institutions and we all can play our part in shaping its future.
Please get in touch if you have any questions about all this - and please let me know if you plan to organise any events during the elections campaign.
Clerk of the British Committee of the Quaker Council for European Affairs