Direct elections to the European Parliament are held every 5 years. The first direct elections were held in 1979. European Parliament elections take place within a 4-day period, normally in the month of June, all over the European Union. The Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government appoints a returning officer for the "polling day" and the "polling period", which must be at least 12 hours between 8.00 a.m. and 10.30 p.m. The 2014 elections take place on Friday, 23 May 2014.
There are 766 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) elected by voters in 28 EU member states, since Croatia joined the EU in July 2013. Following on from the European Council Decision of 28 June 2013 (2013/312/EU) (pdf), after the 2014 election there will be 751MEPs. Ireland's MEP representation is reduced to 11 MEPs.
For the 2014 elections, Ireland is reducing the number of constituencies from 4 to 3: Dublin, which elects 3 MEPs, Midlands-North-West and South which will each elect 4 MEPs. This follows the report of the European Parliament Constituencies Committee in 2013.
Responsibility for conducting the election in each of the constituencies rests with a returning officer appointed by the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government. He or she must be a County Registrar or a City or County Sheriff. There are also local returning officers who are responsible for taking the poll from the many polling stations in each county and city.
For further information about European elections, nominations and voting arrangements, you may be interested in reading the following:
- Who can become a Member of the European Parliament?
- Nomination of candidates for membership of the European Parliament
- How do you vote at a European Parliament election?
- How are the votes counted?
There is more information on european elections on the website of the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government.