Government leaders from across Europe have said that the European Union (EU) must change in order to deliver growth and investment, after a number of Eurosceptic parties performed well at the EU elections.
Anti-EU and anti-immigration parties Ukip and the National Front came first in Britain and France respectively, with more than 25% of the votes.
Reacting to the defeat, UK prime minister David Cameron, whose Conservative party came third in the election, said that voters were clearly disillusioned with Europe and that the message has been “received and understood”.
Meanwhile in France, current president François Hollande said the EU had to change, following the defeat of his socialist party by Marine Le Pen’s National Front.
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“Europe has to be simple, clear, to be effective where it is needed and to withdraw from where it is not necessary”, he said.
Pro-EU forces won in Germany, Italy and Greece, one of the countries worst hit by austerity, where the Coalition of the Radical Left, also known as Syriza, came top.
In the UK, the Green party came fourth, beating the Lib Dems and gaining a new seat in the south-west of England, an area badly affected by floods earlier this year. The Greens are pro-EU but back a referendum on the role of the UK in the union.
In the UK’s local council elections, the party also became the official opposition in Solihull, Liverpool, Lewisham, Norwich and Islington councils. Leader Natalie Bennett said, “The growth of our number of seats in the European parliament reflects growing support for Green party policies and values around the country. Increasing numbers of voters are inspired by our message of positive change for the common good.
“They support, as do a majority of the public, our views on many issues, from renationalising the railways and reining in banks, from banning fracking to making the minimum wage a living wage.”
Photo: Rock Cohen via flickr