ActionAid, the international anti-poverty organization, urged Europeans to participate in the June 4-6 European governmental elections, arguing that their outcome will have an impact on aid policies and may affect efforts to reduce poverty worldwide and meet other United Nations Millennium Development Goals.
Members of the European parliament would scrutinize "policies relating to aid, trade, climate change and the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy" in their coming term, and thus affect the lives of millions of people in developing countries, ActionAid said in a statement Friday before voting began.
"Most of us do not consider the European elections as important, but they affect the lives of those in poor countries as well as our own," said ActionAid International Chair Noerine Kaleeba as she launched a promotional short film encouraging EU citizens to vote.
According to Alexandre Polack, head of European policy and campaigns at ActionAid, almost 400 million voters will be entitled to express their preference for 736 representatives within the EU parliament, and they will have a chance to influence aid-related decisions within the transnational body.
"European citizens should be holding their elected representatives in Brussels to account. Voting is the first logical step. The more united we are, the more we act for a just world," Polack said.
The European government and its member states spend more than 50 billion euros on official development assistance each year, contributing more than 60 percent of total assistance worldwide, according to EU statistics.