Friday

26th Apr 2019

New EP will struggle to find majorities

It will take days if not weeks for the political dust to settle after the EU vote but it is already clear that the new European Parliament will need to work harder to find majorities with discussions on issues such as migration and free trade deals set to become more polarised.

While the centre-right EPP gained the most seats in the EU vote, it lost around sixty seats compared to 2009, while the centre-left S&D came second, but did less well than expected.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Coalition building is going to be more difficult in the next parliament (Photo: European Parliament / Pietro Naj-Oleari)

Together the two parties hold a majority (403) in the 751-strong EP, under current group projections, but it is a slim majority (54%).

"That means that in areas where only the S&D and the EPP agree, that will not be enough, they will have to get votes from some other places," said VoteWatch's Doru Frantescu at a post-election analysis on Monday (26 May).

A centre-right coalition of the EPP, the liberals and the anti-Federalist ECR does not result in a majority, nor does a centre-left coalition of the Social democrats, liberals and far-left.

So a super coalition of the EPP, S&D and Liberals will likely be needed for any measures that would strengthen EU integration or the power of the EU institutions.

But where the EPP and S&D disagree, it will take a lot of hard work to form a majority.

The new numbers are set to make it hard for the new parliament to achieve its first goal: electing a new European Commission president, which will need an absolute majority of 376 MEPs.

But the new make-up is also expected to affect policy areas.

The already controversial EU-US free trade negotiations could attract even more criticism in the EP where they will be opposed by the left but also by some on the far-right, such as France's National Front, calling for more protectionism.

There could also be more division on whether to further liberalise the internal market in services, while the EP is expected to be "less favourable to budget consolidation" and more "vocal" against migration, said Frantescu, with anti-immigration parties topping the polls in the UK, France and the Netherlands.

All political groups are to be formed by 24 June. After this they will divide up the committees between them. The new parliament will have its constitutive assembly in the first week of July.

Biggest effect outside Brussels

But while the parliament is expected to change in that its policy votes will become more unpredictable, the biggest effect of the 22-25 May is expected to be felt in member states.

Founding member state France, usually meant to push ahead on EU proposals alongside Germany, has just given the most votes to a highly eurosceptic and populist party.

Ukip's victory in Britain has brought the likelihood of an in-out referendum on EU membership closer, while Spain is reeling from shock of both of its main parties failing to gather 50 percent of the vote between them.

Simon Hix, political analyst at the LSE, spoke of a "deep structural change" in EU politics, while the European Policy Centre's Fabian Zuleeg said: "I think we're going to see a big impact on the domestic agenda."

The downbeat assessment comes on top of the turnout result, which although it bucked the downward trend of all previous elections, was the same as in 2009.

"Clearly the biggest winner was apathy," said Zuleeg.

Merkel reinforced

Two major winners of the EU election were the Italian and German leaders. Italian PM Matteo Renzi's party scooped 40.8 percent of the vote, making the Italian delegation the largest in the S&D.

Meanwhile, Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU and CSU sister party got 33.5 percent. German MEPs remain the largest delegation in the EPP group. They have also increased their relative importance in the group, with French and Italian centre-right seats declining.

"This will reinforce the role of Angela Merkel," says Poul Skytte Christoffersen, Danish amsbassador to Belgium and long-time Brussels insider.

EU leaders digest anti-establishment vote

EU leaders meeting in Brussels on Tuesday are still digesting the result of EU elections, which saw anti-establishment parties winning in Britain, France, Belgium, Greece and Denmark.

Greens commit to air quality 'super commissioner'

Following an investigation into the Dieselgate scandal, the European Parliament recommended a single commissioner should be responsible for both air quality and setting industrial standards. But only the Greens want to commit to carry out that advice.

News in Brief

  1. EU: Russian citizenship plan 'attacks' Ukraine sovereignty
  2. Deutsche Bank hands over Trump loan documents
  3. UN: Europe is badly prepared for new refugee crisis
  4. Macron to set out 'Yellow vest' counter measures
  5. Italy requests EU action plan for new Libya migrant wave
  6. Far-right party leaders meet in Prague
  7. Priest shames politicians at reporter's funeral in Belfast
  8. Putin offers Russian citizenship to Ukraine regions

Magazine

Explained: What is the European Parliament?

While domestic political parties often use the European Parliament as a dumping ground for unwanted politicians - and a majority of citizens don't bother to vote - the parliament, over the years, has become a dominant force in the EU.

Opinion

The democratic swindle of the Spitzenkandidat

The Spitzenkandidat system has become an instrument of the promotion of MEPs (often German), and was supposed to make Europe more democratic. Reality has revealed the opposite.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Greens commit to air quality 'super commissioner'
  2. Far-right Facebook networks removed before Spain election
  3. EU and Japan in delicate trade talks
  4. Closer EU-Caribbean ties mean greater prosperity for all
  5. Details of EU Brexit talks with Blair and Soros kept secret
  6. Weber vows to block Nord Stream 2 amid 'sue' threat
  7. 'Next Juncker' must fix EU's corporate power problem
  8. EU want Facebook pan-EU advert fix for May elections

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  6. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  7. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  8. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  9. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  11. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  12. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us