Why am I voting in the EU elections?

Aalto University Student Union’s Vice Chair Mantė Žygelytė wrote a blog post on why she is going to vote in the European elections.
Mante smiling with an EU flag

June 9. Date known among many of us as the election day for the European Union (EU) parliament! As a first-time voter, I am looking forward to casting my vote. Yet, the feeling of excitement to vote on the European level has not always been there. Some of the reasons being lack of knowledge on how decision-making on the EU-level works, distance between decisions made in Brussels and their impact on my day-to-day life.

Being a Lithuanian citizen, residing and studying in Finland, it made me ponder how has the EU influenced my journey? The free movement within the EU enabled my relocation to Finland to be hassle-free and visa-free. Besides, going back home can be quite spontaneous and flexible, allowing me to travel just with an ID card. As an EU citizen in the Finnish Higher Education Institution, I have the same access to free education as my fellow Finnish classmates. It is a privilege that not every international student in Finland gets to enjoy. When it comes to healthcare and well-being, the universal European Healthcare Insurance Card (EHIC) ensures access to necessary medical care within all 27 European states. 

These are just a few examples of the EU’s influence on day-to-day life. Though, there are many more fields in which the EU makes decisions that impact young adults and students. So, why is it important that we vote on June 9? First of all, it is a direct way to influence the direction of Europe for the upcoming 5 years. Back in 2019, only 23.3% of people aged 20-24 in Finland have voted (Statistics Finland, 2019). We are living in unprecedented and uncertain times that will require the newly-elected European Parliament to make significant decisions on how to tackle, for example, matters related to climate change, human rights, economic instability and security – to name a few. 

The upcoming European Parliament elections are about changing the narrative on who belongs in the governmental body, too. In 2019, the average age of a Member of the European Parliament was 49.5 (European Parliament, 2019). The elections are a great opportunity to support young candidates, who are underrepresented in the European Parliament and ensure that the needs of young individuals are heard!

The decisions made on the EU level for the upcoming five years will affect all of us in the near future. As students and young individuals, let’s be curious, proactive in our circles and vocal about the matters that are important to us both on national and European levels. June 9 is a day to shape the future of the European Union. Use your voice and vote!

Mantė Žygelytė
Vice Chair
Aalto University Student Union

Read more on EU elections and voting: vaalit.fi

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