Voters will go to the polls on May 22 to elect politicians to represent Wales in the European Parliament.
Eleven parties, each with four candidates, are standing in the all Wales constituency.
The electoral process is a closed list, proportional representation system, where voters choose one party and candidates are elected according to the party’s percentage of the vote.
A number of politicians and commentators have argued this election is a referendum on the EU itself. The Conservative Party has promised a referendum on EU membership if they win the General Election in 2015.
The lead Labour Party candidate, Derek Vaughan, believes EU membership is vital for Wales.
He said: “Labour’s lobbying has resulted in Wales benefiting from an additional £130m in EU funding rather than the £400m cut the UK Tory Government insisted on.
“Because of our efforts Wales will continue to receive far more from the EU than we put in, around £70 per person per year.
“EU membership supports one in seven Welsh jobs, secures valuable trade and investment and guarantees workers’ rights, including maternity and paternity leave.
“That’s why I am urging voters to have their say at the polling stations on May 22. We need to maintain a strong voice to stand up for Wales in Europe.”
Jill Evans MEP, lead candidate for Plaid Cymru, said: “There is a huge amount at stake in this European election.
“More than 150,000 Welsh jobs depend upon trade with other countries in the European Union, and Europe provides additional funding for investment, training and education in the Caerphilly County area, and to improve our infrastructure.
“As a Plaid Cymru MEP since 1999, I have achieved a great deal in recent years in Europe.
“I have voted to make it easier for Welsh companies to get contracts in Wales, supported funds for a European Youth Guarantee to provide a job or training for young people out of work, and voted to protect the investment that has come from the EU.
“Workers’ rights should be protected so we should scrap compulsory zero-hours contracts, and Welsh should be given the same official status in the European Union as other small nation languages.”
Dr Kay Swinburne, the Conservative Party lead candidate, said cutting EU regulation would benefit the country.
She said: “These elections are the most important in a generation, focusing as they are, on Britain’s membership of the European Union.
“Conservative candidates are taking our message of reform, renegotiation and a referendum to every doorstep, reminding people that it is only our party who can give them a vote on whether we stay in the EU. It’s a message people understand and support.
“We’re also reminding people how Conservative MEPs are trying to make Europe work better for all its citizens, including those in Wales.
“We’ve helped small businesses by reducing EU regulations, led the campaign to cut the cost of the EU, fought for a better deal for consumers, and pressed for reforms to help our farmers and fishermen.”
The Liberal Democrat’s Alec Dauncey agreed the elections are a potential turning point for the EU.
He said: “These elections are more important than ever before. They have become a referendum of whether people are ‘in or out’?
“For the Welsh Liberal Democrats the answer is clear: Britain and Wales are better in Europe. We are Britain’s only party of ‘in’.
“More than one in ten Welsh jobs depend on trade with the EU. Why on earth would we want to risk people’s livelihoods?
“Leaving the EU would be catastrophic.
“It’s the surest way to jeopardise jobs, risk our fragile economic recovery and it will leave Wales and Britain alone and diminished in the world.”
There are a number of smaller parties standing in Wales including the anti-EU, UK Independence Party and the Green Party.
Welsh Green Party Leader and candidate, Pippa Bartolotti, said: “Young people are beginning to understand the rising pressures of inequality and the need to stop climate change as the consequences are not just global they are local.
“A vote for the Green Party in these elections is a vote for an economy that works for everyone, not just the richest.
“It’s a vote for jobs to build a life on, and a cap on bankers’ bonuses – rather than a race to bottom on wages and tax breaks for the wealthiest.”
Andrew Jordan, lead candidate for the Socialist Labour Party in Wales, claimed they are the only party that advocate immediate withdrawal from the EU.
He said: “The EU has sought to undermine our democracy. We won’t see our communities left behind as a result of the austerity politics of the European Union, Westminster or Cardiff Bay.”
No2EU, – Yes to Workers’ Rights also call for withdrawal.
Lead candidate, Robert Griffiths, said: “No2EU – Yes to Workers’ Rights opposes the EU because it is an anti-democratic club in which the rules are written by big business.
“Where UKIP wants to protect the City bankers and their bonuses against mild EU regulation, we support public ownership of the banks – we’ve paid to bail them out and think we should make our own laws in Wales and Britain.”
Polling stations are open from 7am until 10pm on Thursday May 22.