From June 6 to 9, 2024, EU citizens will cast their votes in the European elections. Voters will then determine the new distribution of seats (and power) in the European Parliament, thereby indirectly influencing the EU’s priorities until 2029. The political landscape in the member states is constantly shifting, making the outcome of this year’s elections uncertain. In this blog series on the European elections, colleague Valérie Mendes de León analyzes recent developments in EU member states and their potential influence on the upcoming European elections, the allocation of the 720 seats in the European Parliament, and the formation of a new College of Commissioners.
Election Manifesto’s and Spitzenkandidaten
With four months to go until the European elections, the European bubble is slowly gearing up for the campaign period. The first draft manifesto’s from the European groups are coming in, and more campaign leader names are being revealed. Nicholas Schmit, the current Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, will lead the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) as Spitzenkandidat. Bas Eickhout and Terry Reintke will enter the elections as co-leaders for the Greens. And at the upcoming party congress of the European People’s Party (EPP) on February 19, Ursula von der Leyen will reveal whether she will run for a second term as President of the Commission.
These first two weeks of February also mark an important deadline for trilogue negotiations, the final negotiations before a law is adopted (or rejected). Every deal that is closed this week can be voted on during the last plenary session in the European Parliament in April and officially published before the summer. So, you’ll see that a considerable number of laws are still being passed now, such as the Right to Repair, the final changes to the AI Act, and the law on ESG ratings. Many deals are expected this week, including on the EU Platform Work Directive and a directive making more forms of gender-related violence punishable.
Right Bloc Growth Continues
In earlier blogs, we wrote about the trend toward a more right-wing European Parliament after June. This trend seems to continu, with a growing number of expected seats for parties to the right of the European People’s Party. Since November, Identity and Democracy (I&D) – the party including the Dutch PVV, the French party Rassemblement National of Marine Le Pen, and the German Alternative für Deutschland – has been topping the liberal Renew group – which includes the Dutch VVD and D66 – for the first time. After the EPP and S&D, I&D is third in the polls. Political scientists also show that a majority is possible between the three most right-wing parties, but significant differences in priorities currently hinder strong cooperation. Therefore, the expectation is that the cooperation between S&D, Renew, and EPP in the European Parliament will continue, but with greater opposition from the right-wing flanks.
What Does This Mean for European Policy?
This means that the new European Parliament will have a considerable number of Eurosceptic members. How this affects policy remains uncertain for now. Unlike Dutch politics, MEPs do not vote in coalitions or political groups on important decisions – think of sensitive amendments or other legislative texts. MEPs operate relatively independently on some policy areas, making traditional bloc formation less straightforward. However, some estimation can be made regarding the EU’s sustainability agenda. Under the leadership of Frans Timmermans, the current EP has presented ambitious goals, and it is expected that a more right-wing Parliament will weaken these. To counter extreme right-wing parties, Christian Democrats of the EPP are already shifting and aligning more with the ‘ordinary man.’ This weakens sustainability ambitions, which was already visible in the Nature Restoration Law last autumn, but also last week, during negotiations on agricultural measures where Von der Leyen stated that “farmers can count on European support.”
National Priorities for the Next Mandate
In the coming weeks, national governments are also working towards the next mandate. Ministries are drafting their priorities and wish lists for the next Commission mandate, which will be presented to the European Commission. For example, the Digital Economy department of the Ministry of Economic Affairs has already announced that they are prioritizing the enforcement of the Digital Rulebook, as well as the twin transition of sustainability and digitalization. This offers the business community an excellent opportunity to collaborate with Dutch ministries and share their vision.
Public Matters will regularly share updates on the campaign period and expectations for the next mandate (2024 – 2029) leading up to June. Would you like to be kept informed more frequently through a tailor-made Election Update? Then contact us.
Copyright photo: © European Union 2024 – Source : EP