In 2006 the eParticipation project was launched as a parliament initiative with the aim of mobilising people to be more active in the politics via Internet.
"We provide the citizens with tools to make their comments and suggestions via the internet: the ordinary citizens can follow and understand European politics and take part on their computers at home, "explains German Socialist Ralf Walter, who came up with the idea four years ago.
German Socialist Matthias Groote, who represents the EP at the conference for eParticipation Day said, "the European institutions are accused of being very far from their citizens. This feeling can be avoided by electronic participation via the internet."
He sees the internet as an instrument for democracy. "It gives citizens the opportunity not just to vote every five years but to participate in certain processes in the meantime."
Social media grips teenagers, silver surfers
Mr Groote - a regular user of 9 social media networks - said that last week he made his 1000th friend on Facebook. "Nowadays, as an MEP, with the internet you not only send out the information but you also receive it - that's real interaction. You can find out what (as we say in German when people are concerned by something) 'what is burning under peoples fingernails'."
Mr Walter said, "the classic way to communicate in politics is diminishing. As a politician you no longer have to go to a room/hall and give a lecture as often, as people like to take part in politics at home on their computers."
Mr Groote stressed the importance of the Internet in reaching young people. "The young generation is especially present in social media, like on Facebook and Twitter. Recently I asked a group of pupils between 17 and 18 how many of them have a Facebook profile. Out of 50 pupils 100% of them said yes."
But it's not just young people who are logging in, older people - so-called "silver surfers" - are also getting internet savvy. "The first person who commented on my first blog was around 80 years old," Mr Groote said.
- Further information :
* "e-Parliament" discusses connection with voters
* Online voting - what do people really think?
* What impact will sites like Facebook and YouTube have in the EP elections?
* Ralf Walter
* Matthias Groote