The 2014 European Parliament elections will be the first pan-European test of public opinion since the Greek crisis erupted, triggering a wider loss of confidence in the euro and in the EU more generally.
However, they are only one part of a wider year of change. Under the Lisbon Treaty, the results of the elections will influence the choice of a new President of the European Commission. The major European political parties are set to name candidates for the Commission presidency and national parties are being asked to give these candidates prominence during the election campaign.
Subsequently, new commissioners – including a new High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy – will be nominated and approved. Member states will choose a successor to Herman Van Rompuy as President of the European Council.
Other roles may come into the mix too: a permanent president for the eurozone, a president for the constitutional convention that may take place in 2015, a new Secretary-General of Nato (almost certainly a European) and, later, a new Secretary-General of the United Nations (where the rotation system means the ‘Eastern European Group’ – the only region never to have had led the UN – stands a good chance of taking that position).