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23 May 2024 | 4 minutes

An overview of the political groups in the European Parliament

The European Parliament is a melting pot of political ideas and interests, where MEPs from all corners of Europe come together to discuss, negotiate and pass legislation. Political groups are crucial to the functioning of the European Parliament by setting the agenda, tabling amendments to legislative proposals and nominating candidates for key positions. To work and influence effectively, these MEPs form coalitions based on shared beliefs and goals. With the European elections approaching, it is useful to know which political groupings the Dutch parties participate in. What are the main groups? And which Dutch parties are in them?

An overview of the political groups in the European Parliament

International coalitions

Parliamentarians form coalitions based on shared political beliefs rather than nationality. The hundreds of national political parties have joined several EP groups. A small number of parliamentarians (now 50 seats) have no affiliation with a group; they are classified as non-attached. The political affiliation of a group transcends individual parties. For example, we find the CDA and the Christian Union in the same EPP group, while the VVD and D66 are part of the Renew Europe group. Although members usually follow their group’s position when voting, it is not mandatory.

  1. European People’s Party (EPP)

The European People’s Party, with 167 seats, is currently the largest political coalition in the European Parliament, consisting of center-right parties embracing mainly Christian Democratic and conservative values. Ursula Von der Leyen, the current President of the European Commission, will of course be the EPP’s Spitzenkandidat this election as well. In the Netherlands, the EPP is represented by the CDA and the Christen Unie. The CDA has a strong focus on social cohesion, economic stability and international cooperation within the EU.

  1. Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D)

The Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats is a coalition of center-left parties committed to social democratic and progressive ideals, such as social justice, equal opportunities and sustainable development. They currently hold 141 seats, making them the second-largest coalition. Nicholas Schmidt, the current European Commissioner for Employment and Social Rights, is the party’s Spitzenkandidat this election.  In the Netherlands, the S&D is represented by the Partij van de Arbeid (PvdA). The PvdA strives for a fair distribution of wealth, good working conditions and an inclusive society. It seems that despite their joint electoral list, PvdA and Groenlinks will not go into the same European group. 

  1. Renew Europe (formerly Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe)

Renew Europe is a coalition of center-liberal and center-right parties that emphasize individual freedom, economic growth and European integration. After EPP and S&D, Renew Europe is the largest coalition with 101 seats. Renew has three Spitzen candidates this election: Sandro Gozi, Valérie Hayer and Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmerman. In the Netherlands, Renew Europe is represented by D66 and the VVD. D66 is known for its progressive positions on education, democratic renewal and European cooperation. The VVD focuses on security, migration and economic growth. View the VVD’s election program and candidate list here

  1. Greens/European Free Alliance (Greens/EFA)

The Greens/European Free Alliance is a coalition of green and regional parties committed to environmental protection, sustainability and cultural diversity. This group currently holds 72 seats and has GroenLinks and Volt as its Dutch parties. GroenLinks is known for its fight for a better climate, green economy and social justice, both at the national and European level.Volt is known for its commitment to a greener future and social justice, with a strong focus on European cooperation. Bas Eickhout and Terry Reintke are joint Spitzen candidates of the coalition. 

  1. European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR)

The European Conservatives and Reformists is a Eurosceptic and conservative coalition that advocates more national sovereignty and less EU integration. The coalition now has 67 seats. In the Netherlands, Ja21 and the SGP are represented within the ECR because they often raise critical questions about further European unification. The ECR has decided not to appoint a Spitzenkadidat this election. 

  1. Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL)

The Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left is a coalition of leftist and socialist parties committed to workers’ rights, social equality and international solidarity. This group currently has 37 seats. The SP, which currently has no seat, and the Partij voor de Dieren adhere to this coalition. Partij voor de Dieren has a clear focus on the environment and animal welfare and the SP stands for a social Europe that focuses on equality, solidarity and protection of labor rights.

  1. Identity and Democracy (ID)

Identity and Democracy is a coalition of nationalist, Euroskeptic and populist parties that advocate the preservation of national identities, stricter border controls and less EU integration.ID currently has 59 seats, but this is expected to increase in the next term. In the Netherlands, the Partij voor de Vrijheid (PVV) and Forum voor Democratie (FvD) are represented within ID. These parties question the current direction of the EU and emphasize the importance of national sovereignty.

These coalitions and their Dutch representatives play a crucial role in shaping European policy and representing the interests of European citizens. By working together and making compromises, they strive for a strong, just and prosperous Europe.

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