• France's news in English

Euro Elections: Ten key figures you need to know

Joshua Melvin · 19 May 2014, 18:05

Published: 19 May 2014 18:05 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

When French voters hit the polls on May 25 they will be choosing the lawmakers of the European Parliament (MEPs) who will make hundreds if not thousands of decisions that will impact on everyday life in France and the 27 other EU countries for years to come

Yet the distance between voters' daily lives and what's happening in Brussels and Strasbourg leaves many somewhat bewildered about by how it all works and what's really at stake. Following on from our Five reasons why the European elections really matter, here's ten figures that will help shed some light on what's really at stake or not. 

Story continues below…

Note the figures are just as likely to persuade you not to vote as they will to impel you to cast a ballot.

  •  €96,246.36: That is the minimum, pre-tax salary of a Member of European Parliament. Though it may already sound like a decent pay day, it’s just the start. MEPs also get up to €4,299 per month for their office expenditures like postage and computer equipment. They also get travel expenses and living costs covered completely by the EU while in official business.
  • 3,753 candidates: That is is the number of people who qualified for the May 25 ballot in France, of which half are women. The hopefuls, who only have to be aged 18 in many countries, have been grouped into 193 electoral lists, which is a 20 percent jump on the electoral field put forward for the last election in 2009. Aside from the classic left and right parties, there are a few original ones like Citizens of the Blank Ballot, Feminists for a Europe Together, and Europe Démocratie Esperanto, who are running on a platform to increase usage of the international auxiliary language Esperanto. 
  • €6.9 billion: It’s the difference between what France paid into the EU budget and what it got back in funding in 2012. France, with a contribution of €19.8 billion, was the second biggest funder of the EU that year. The union draws about 99 percent of its funding from members and European-wide taxes. 2012’s top funder was Germany at €22.8 billion with €12.25 billion returned to it in grants. The United Kingdom paid in €13.5 billion and saw €6.93 billion sent back in subsidies.
  • 74 seats: French voters will decide on May 25 who will take up the 74 seats in the 751 member parliament, compared to 73 for the UK and 96 for Germany. Voting for the seats is broken down by districts, for example, with 15 up for grabs in the Ile-de-France region around Paris, 13 in the southeast of the country and ten each in the north west and south west regions. These electoral boundaries were drafted by France rather than the EU.
  • €200 million: It’s estimated the EU spends up to €200 million per year on the so-called “travelling circus” of shuttling staff and deputies between its three different locations. The monthly, four-day Parliament sessions are held in the legislature’s chambers in Strasbourg, eastern France while most committee meetings take place in Brussels, yet support staff work out of Luxembourg. It makes for a lot of train trips. MEPs have mounted a recent campaign to move the parliament to Brussels, but French MEPs have resisted. Here one of them tells The Local why the parliament must stay in Strasbourg.
  • 80 percent - That’s the number of French laws that come Brussels, well according to the extremely Eurosceptic Jean-Marie Le Pen.  The organisation Fact Check EU pulled Le Pen up on this figure and pointed to a recent study that actually suggests only 19 percent of the laws passed in France “had an EU impulse”. Although a spokesperson for the EU parliament told The Local that around 70 percent of national laws were either directly or indirectly influenced by Europe. Make of that what you will.
  • 40.6 percent of voters: It’s the record low number of voters who turned out in 2009 for the last EU Parliament elections. The number has been falling for decades. It was 42.8 percent in 2004; 46.8 in 1999; 52.7 in 1994. In light of the record low turnout in the March local elections, experts are expecting a further drop in mobilization this year, hence the kind of campaign posters shown above.
  • 25 deputies: In order to form voting blocs in Parliament that can unlock million of euros in funding, politicians have to cobble together a coalition of at least 25 deputies. Those deputies in turn must be drawn from a total of a quarter of the member states, which is seven countries. Far-right National Front party leader Marine Le Pen is trying to compose just such a collective with parties that include Nazi sympathizers and anti-Islam lawmakers. Forming a voting block in the European Parliament is worth around €60 million of funding from EU coffers
  • 83 percent - Thats the percentage that French MEPs took part in voting sessions at the European Parliament over the last five years. If that sounds high, it was actually one of the lowest percentages among MEPs from any nation, apart from Britain, whose members took part in 80 percent of "roll-call" votes. In Austria for example their MEPs participated in 90 percent of roll-call voting  sessions. In the past the French MEPs have also been criticised for their poor attendance record at plenary sessions in Strasbourg and Brussels. So will the MEPs you actually vote for earn their money? To be fair there's more to EU parliamentary life than voting as a spokesperson from Vote Watch Europe tells The Local. "MEPs have different activities such as parliamentary questions to the Commission and Council, report drafting, tabling amendments and more," she said.
  • 3 percent of ballots: Candidates who want to get reimbursed by the European Union for election expenses have to get three percent of the vote. It might seem a high burden for tiny, niche parties, but it’s two percent less than the minimum five percent for reimbursement during France’s national and local elections.

Joshua Melvin (joshua.melvin@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Where exactly in France are Calais migrants being sent?
Photo: AFP

Here's where the 8,000 migrants in Calais are heading.

The annoying questions only a half French, half British person can answer
Photo: Beery/Flickr/AFP

Being half French, half British is means you get asked a lot of questions (and some of them can be a little annoying.)

Migrants bussed out of Calais Jungle to all corners of France
All photos: AFP

Hundreds of migrants are being bussed across France on Monday ahead of the demolition of the Jungle camp.

The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
A Prophet. Photo: YouTube Screengrab

Looking for something to watch?

The must-see French films of the millennium - Part Two
Rust and Bone. Photo: YouTube Screengrab

The newest French films you need to see before you die (or alternatively when you get some spare time).

Election Watch
Presidential hopeful reckons a pain au chocolat is 10 cents

So France happily takes the pastry out of him.

French ministry of defence officials die in plane crash
Screengrab: eddydeg/Twitter

The French Ministry of Defence officials were killed on Monday when a light aircraft went down on the island of Malta.

Revealed: The ten most stolen cars in France
A Smart car in Paris. Photo: JR_Paris/Flickr

Thieves in France are getting a taste for luxury cars, it seems.

Analysis - France migrant crisis
Migrant crisis won't end with Calais 'Jungle' closure
All Photos: AFP

The Jungle camp may be being cleared but this won't be the end of the migrant crisis in France.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie 'to sell their French chateau'
All photos: AFP

Want to live where Brangelina got married?

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available