European Elections: what the parties have to say for themselves

May 22, 2014

Upcoming vote will give people a chance to make their feelings clear about the EU and immigration


More than 400 million people across Europe go to the polls today to vote on who represents them in the European Parliament. With anti-European-Union parties gaining popularity and the issue of immigration attracting much attention, the vote also gives people a chance to make their feelings clear about those issues. Here are some of the manifesto policies from the UK's main political parties:

Labour believes Britain's future lies "at the heart of a reformed EU". It wants national parliaments to have more of a say over the making of new EU legislation and will legislate for a "lock" that stops any future transfer of powers from Britain to the EU without an in/out referendum for the British people.

Back at home: Labour believes the UK is best placed to build a strong economy and tackle its "cost of living crisis" from within the EU. It will fight to protect rights, such as parental leave and the minimum four weeks' paid holiday, and also wants to ensure the minimum wage is enforced by raising fines from £5,000 to £50,000 for employers underpaying workers.

Immigration: The party wants to control immigration, with people "counted in and out at the border", and place restrictions on workers coming to the UK from any future countries joining the EU. It would reinstate fingerprint checks at borders to cut illegal immigration, and stop people exploiting short-term student visitor visas. It would also ban recruitment agencies from hiring solely from abroad.

Click for Labour's full manifesto.

The Lib Dems want Britain to stay in the EU, arguing it is the best way forward for British jobs, fighting cross-border crime, consumer rights and Britain's influence in the world. Like Labour, it will support an in/out referendum if any further "significant transfer of powers" from the UK to the EU is proposed in the future. It also promises to fight for better protection for the environment across Europe.

Back at home: The party wants to create opportunities for UK firms to expand trade and create more jobs, as well as ensure a better quality of regulation in order to protect the economy and businesses. It will press for new rules that will force large companies to pay fair taxes in the countries in which they operate.

Immigration: The Lib Dems will continue to support the right to free movement across the EU, which it says has brought "huge benefits" to Britain. It does, however, support the coalition government's plans to extend the period from three to six months that an EU citizen coming to the UK would have to rely on the benefits system of their home country.

Click for the Liberal Democrat's full manifesto.

The Tory party has promised an in/out referendum on Britain's membership of the EU by the end of 2017 if it remains in government. The party wants to bring more powers back to Britain, cut red tape and expand the EU's Single Market. It also wants to see a new principle in the EU: "Europe if necessary, national when possible."

Back at home: The party wants to take back more control over justice and home affairs, safeguard the economy, cut income tax, cap welfare, freeze fuel duty and create more jobs by backing small businesses. It will scrap Labour's Human Rights Act and curtail the roll of the European Court of Human Rights in the UK.

Immigration: The Conservatives plan to reduce immigration and crackdown on "benefit tourism". They will stop immigrants from claiming welfare payments for their relatives abroad and change how free movement works for countries joining the EU in the future.

Click for the Conservatives' full manifesto.

Ukip wants to leave the EU, claiming that the move will save the UK government £55m a day. It believes the UK is in an "incredibly strong position" to negotiate an amicable exit and a free trade deal under existing treaties. Jobs will be gained and millions of small businesses will be free from EU laws and regulations, it claims.

Back at home: UKIP wants to reduce fuel duty and scrap the 2008 Climate Change Act, which it claims adds hundreds of pounds to household energy bills "by forcing taxpayers' money into wasteful wind turbines and solar arrays". Ukip would also leave the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights.

Immigration: The party wants the UK to take back control of its borders, cutting and controlling immigration. It says that EU rules allowing anyone in the EU to live in the UK is putting pressure on schools, welfare, the NHS and the UK's green spaces. It also wants to prioritise social housing for those "with parents and grandparents born locally" and demand proof of health insurance from visitors and migrants as a condition of entry to the UK.

Click for Ukip's full manifesto.

The Green Party supports a referendum on EU membership, but will campaign to keep the UK in the EU. It believes that some issues are "best resolved at a continental level", but says it will work for "radical changes" to the way in which it operates. For example, by proposing a constitution for the EU that outlines the scope and limits to its powers. It also wants to reduce climate change by increasing renewable energy across Europe and protect animals by banning factory farming.

Back at home: The party wants to build affordable housing, turn the national minimum wage into a "genuine living wage", stop the "privatisation of the NHS", scrap university tuition fees and abandon HS2.

Immigration: The Green Party supports the free movement of people across the EU and opposes moves to "water down" EU rules that require all EU citizens to have the same access to public services as citizens of the EU state they are in. The party will continue to actively support marginalised groups and challenge anti-immigrant rhetoric, which it says perpetuates racist attitudes.

Click for the Green Party's full manifesto.

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The EU may have a population of 400M but no way is that the size of the electorate, much less an indication of the eager millions rushing to vote.