EIU: European Parliament Elections

by | May 31, 2024

(May 29, 2024 – online event by Economist Intelligence Unit)

Moderator:

  • Emily Mansfield, Regional Director Europe (EIU)

Speakers:

  • Agnese Ortonali, Principal Economist, Europe (EIU)
  • Prianthi Roy, Analyst, Europe and Country Forecast Manager (EIU)

The purpose of this conference, organized by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), was to understand the expectations and implications of the upcoming European elections. Experts from EIU analyzed the key risks to monitor and the political dynamics that could shape the future of the European Union. By focusing on current challenges and future opportunities, the conference aimed to provide a clear and in-depth perspective on potential developments in the European political landscape.

Political landscape and key negotiations

Emily Mansfield, Regional Director Europe at EIU and Agnese Ortolani, Principal Economist Europe at EIU, emphasized the importance of monitoring the political dynamics in France leading up to 2027. The shifting balance between the left and right in France could significantly impact both national and European political scenes. Mansfield noted that right-wing groups are projected to win the most seats in the EU’s four biggest economies, shifting the balance of power within the European Council to the right. Despite this shift, a pro-EU majority still holds. However, the European Parliament has limited powers compared to the Council, where changes have a more substantial impact on EU policymaking. Mansfield highlighted that the next key events to watch are the general elections in Germany and France in 2025 and 2027, which could further influence the political landscape.

Agnese Ortolani also discussed the European People’s Party (EPP) and their main candidate for the European Commission presidency, Ursula von der Leyen. However, French President Emmanuel Macron’s support for Mario Draghi presents a major obstacle for von der Leyen. This divergence could complicate internal EU negotiations, making the nomination process more challenging. Von der Leyen’s previous narrow victory underscores the potential difficulties and risks in the upcoming process, further exacerbated by political divisions within the EU. Prianthi Roy, Analyst and Europe Country Forecast Manager at EIU, added that ongoing national elections in countries like the Netherlands and Croatia will impact the overall political landscape of the EU, influencing power dynamics and alliances within the European Parliament.

Green policies and migration

Prianthi Roy addressed the EU’s commitment to green policies amidst backlash. Despite ongoing support for ecological goals, the implementation of new policies is expected to slow down. This slowdown could be mirrored in other countries, presenting a negative normative impact. The approach might see a pause or further delays, but this remains to be seen. Agnese Ortolani elaborated on the Green Deal, noting that while most measures have been approved, member states show reluctance in implementation. There are no major developments in green-related spending, with a focus now on protecting EU interests through a more protectionist approach.

All the speakers also highlighted the declining youth support for the Greens, which was significant in 2019. Far-right parties are gaining popularity due to factors like the global pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and high living costs. Many people are turning to simplistic answers, often blaming immigration for economic and social problems. Ortolani further discussed the EU’s recent approval of a migration package after three years of negotiations. This package is quite restrictive regarding migrants’ rights and externalizes responsibilities to third countries. Italy remains heavily burdened by the influx of migrants, while countries like Hungary and Poland continue to resist quota mechanisms. With a majority of MEPs favoring stricter rules, significant changes in this area are unlikely.

International trade and foreign policy

All the speakers raised significant foreign policy questions regarding the EU’s relationships with the US and China, particularly concerning international trade. Agnese Ortolani explained that the European Parliament is increasingly reluctant to approve free trade agreements due to growing opposition to lobbying. The EU is pursuing a de-risking strategy by signing more trade agreements with various countries, aiming to diversify and reduce dependency on major trading partners. There is a strong internal push for strict alignments during trade negotiations, reflecting a trend of increasing opposition to free trade within the EU. This opposition could complicate efforts to finalize new trade agreements, posing challenges to the EU’s international trade policies.


Link to the event:
https://www.eiu.com/n/webinars/european-parliament-elections/

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