Voting across most other EU member states got under way this morning, with polling stations in 21 countries open in the eastern part of Europe, and the last poll closing at 11pm local time in Italy.

The first official results from across the EU will be released from 10pm Irish time.  

While nationalist and eurosceptic parties have been expected to make significant gains, some exit polls already published have offered some comfort to pro-EU mainstream parties.

Around 360 million people across 28 countries are eligible to vote.

They will cast their ballots to elect 751 MEPs for the next five year term.

Voting began in the UK and the Netherlands on Thursday, Ireland went to the polls on Friday, while most of the other countries will vote today.

If and when Britain leaves the European Union the number of seats will be reduced to 705, with 27 extra seats being distributed among a number of other member states.

Across each country national issues are expected to concentrate the minds of voters as much as European ones, but this election is being keenly watched for two reasons.

Firstly, the fact that the UK has still had to contest the elections has made for a highly unusual situation, given that the country was supposed to have left the EU on 29 March.

Secondly, a potential surge in support for populist, eurosceptic and far right parties could significantly impact the European project and alter the political balance within the Parliament.

However, the unexpected success of the pro-EU Dutch Labour party on Thursday, and the potential for climate change to play a bigger part than expected, have fuelled speculation that the eurosceptic revolution may be less dramatic than expected.