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17 June 2024 | 4 minutes

Post-election analysis: what happens next in the EU?

With the European elections concluded, the political landscape of the European Union is set for a significant transformation. These elections, held on June 9, have paved the way for a series of crucial steps that will shape the EU's future leadership and policy direction. Here's a detailed look at what to expect in the coming months.

Post-election analysis: what happens next in the EU?

Post-Election Timeline: Key Steps Ahead*

June 17: Informal meeting of European leaders
On June 17, the date of the informal summit of heads of state and government that will kick off, unofficially, over dinner, discussions on appointments to the top posts of the EU institutions. EU leaders will also discuss the next institutional cycle. At the dinner of the Twenty-Seven, discussions will kick off to try to lighten the already full agenda of the ordinary European Council on June 27-28 (at which might also find space for Mario Draghi‘s report on the future of European competitiveness). EU leaders will also discuss the next institutional cycle. This meeting is crucial for setting the tone of upcoming negotiations.

June 27-28: European Council
On the 27th and 28th of June, EU leaders will speak formally about the nominations. On the agenda is proposing contenders for the EU’s most influential positions: Commission President, European Council President and a High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Generally, leaders take party affiliation, regional representation and gender into consideration when filling the top jobs, making one nomination contingent on the other and the institutional haggling rather complicated.

End of June: Vote on the Commission President
While waiting for a potential decision by the 27 heads of state and government already at the European Council at the end of June, the European Parliament is preparing for its inaugural session in Strasbourg on July 16-19. To be sure, at the first plenary session, the new MEPs will take office, the parliamentary committee heads will be chosen, and the new President of the Parliament will be determined. If the Commission President candidate does not secure the required majority, EU leaders must propose a new candidate within a month.

July 16-17: Informal meeting of European leaders
The first plenary session of the new legislative term will take place from 16 to 19 July in Strasbourg. The new Parliament will vote for its new President, vice-presidents and quaestors as well as decide on the number of MEPs who will be sitting in each parliamentary committee. Around 100 in-house roles will be assigned.

Late Summer / Autumn: Hearings for Commissioners-designate
The Parliament will hold hearings for the Commissioners-designate, followed by a vote on the composition of the Commission as a whole. After this, the new Commission can start its mandate.

December 1: New president of the European Council takes office
The newly elected President of the European Council will assume office, marking the final step in the transition of EU leadership.

 

Leadership battles and key nominations

As European leaders gear up for negotiations, several names are already in the spotlight for top EU positions. The current European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, has expressed her intent to continue her role, despite political challenges, states Politico. Leaders like Portugal’s Prime Minister António Costa and Malta’s President Roberta Metsola are also key players in these discussions.

In a recent interview, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, criticized the Greens by describing them as “eco-extremists.” This statement caused tensions within the coalition that supports her. Von der Leyen defended her remarks by stressing that the Greens, while important for climate policy, sometimes take overly radical positions that are not always realistic. Her criticism came in the context of her possible reappointment, stressing the need for a balanced approach between economic growth and environmental protection.

Von der Leyen’s potential re-election is under scrutiny, with former European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker advising her to assert independence from influential figures like Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. Juncker’s advice underscores the complex power dynamics and the importance of maintaining balanced and independent leadership.

Political dynamics and challenges

The 2024 European Parliament elections produced mixed results for the center parties. Although the European People’s Party (EPP) and the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) retain a majority, their position is more fragile than ever due to challenges from both the right and the left. Populist and far-right parties have made significant gains in Italy and Hungary, reflecting a growing trend of EU skepticism and nationalist policies. According to Politico, the success of the far right poses a challenge to the cohesion of the EU and its ability to implement unified policies. Topics such as migration, national sovereignty and economic regulation are likely to see more intense debates and potential conflict. 

Interestingly, the Nordic countries present a contrasting picture. While radical right-wing movements are gaining strength, there is also a strong presence of left-wing parties, especially in Sweden and Denmark. This dual trend illustrates the diverse political currents flowing through Europe, making it difficult to predict a single, unified direction for the continent. The increase in support for green parties underscores the growing importance of environmental issues among European voters. This could lead to significant changes in EU policy, with a focus on renewable energy, emission reduction and environmental protection measures.

Strategic agenda and policy direction

The proposed package deal at the end of June will not only focus on leadership positions but also outline the EU’s Strategic Agenda. This agenda will set the policy direction for the coming years, addressing critical issues like economic recovery, digital transformation, climate change, and international relations.

Looking ahead

The months following the European elections are pivotal for the EU’s future. The formation of the new European Commission, the election of the European Council President, and the approval of the Strategic Agenda will determine the policy trajectory and governance structure of the EU. Stakeholders across the continent are keenly watching these developments, understanding that the outcomes will have far-reaching implications for Europe and beyond.

Stay tuned as the political drama unfolds and the new EU leadership takes shape, navigating through a complex web of negotiations, power balances, and strategic decisions.

 

 

*For a detailed breakdown of the transition to new EU institutional leadership, click here.



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