Dispatch from Brussels: January 2024

EU elections coming. A How-to guide

The 2024 European Parliament elections are set to take place from June 6 to 9, with voters in European Member States selecting over 720 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) who will represent them for a five-year term. After being elected, MEPs organize into political groups based on shared beliefs.

EU citizens have the right to both vote and stand for elections in their own country or the EU country where they reside. This marks the tenth parliamentary elections since the first direct elections in 1979 and is particularly significant as the first European Parliament election following the United Kingdom’s departure from the EU (Brexit). 

Six months before the European Parliament elections, the European Union (EU) is grappling with a complex political landscape, marked by a significant surge in voter intention, according to a Eurobarometer survey. The survey, based on almost 27,000 interviews conducted in September and October, unveils both encouraging and disconcerting trends for the EU.

On a up note, there is a notable increase in voter engagement, with 68% of respondents expressing their intention to participate in the upcoming elections. This represents a nine-point uptick from the previous election cycle, indicating a growing interest in the democratic process among the EU’s 400 million voters. Moreover, a record-high 72% of respondents believe that their country has benefited from EU membership. In Brussels, a trend is emerging from other polls, pointing towards a potential rise in support for conservative parties. Interestingly, while climate change remains important to voters, ranking as a priority for 29%, issues like the fight against poverty (36%) and public health (34%) take precedence. Immigration, a focal point in recent Dutch elections, is a priority for 18% of respondents. In terms of party dynamics, pro-European groups such as the center-right European People’s Party, the center-left Socialists & Democrats, and Renew Europe are expected to shrink in the upcoming elections with a rise of the right-wing parties.

Despite these challenges, EU Parliament President Roberta Metsola remains optimistic, highlighting the Eurobarometer as a testament to the fact that “Europe matters”. Metsola points out that, amidst a challenging geopolitical and socio-political context, citizens trust the EU to find solutions, echoing the sentiment that, despite hurdles, the EU remains a beacon for addressing collective concerns.

Possible next EP

The latest projections for the composition of the European Parliament show the center-right European People’s Party (EPP) as the largest group, gaining four seats and reaching 179 seats, its best result in nearly two years. The center-left Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) remains unchanged with 141 seats. However, the centrist-liberal group Renew Europe (RE) suffered a significant setback, losing five seats and dropping to 84 seats, making it the fourth-largest group. Together, the EPP, S&D, and RE, which informally collaborate in the European Parliament, hold a comfortable absolute majority with 404 out of 705 seats, though this is one seat less than the previous month.

The third-largest group is now Identity and Democracy (ID), a right-wing group that gained six seats, reaching its highest-ever total of 93 seats. In contrast, the national-conservative European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) lost two seats, falling to 81.

On the left, the Greens/European Free Alliance (G/EFA) is projected to win 49 seats, a decrease of two from the previous month. The GUE/NGL (LEFT) is expected to lose another seat, ending up with 36 seats, a record low for this election period.

The Non-Inscrits (NI) would have two seats less, totaling 52, and parties not (yet) affiliated are projected to have six seats, an increase of two. These projections offer insights into the shifting dynamics and strengths of various political groups within the European Parliament.

Situation in the European Council

The European Council is one of the principal institutions of the European Union (EU), and it plays a crucial role in shaping the overall EU policy and direction. It is not to be confused with the Council of the European Union, which is a different entity. The European Council consists of the Heads of State or Government of EU Member States, along with the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission. In summary, the European Council serves as a high-level forum where leaders of EU Member States come together to provide political guidance and set the strategic direction for the European Union. It plays a key role in shaping the policies and priorities of the EU.

European Council President Charles Michel has announced his candidacy but then after some weeks retracted his candidacy for the upcoming European Parliament elections in June. This unexpected move has triggered a reevaluation of the potential candidates for key EU leadership positions, including the Presidency of the European Commission, European Council, and head of the EU’s foreign service. The top EU positions are typically agreed upon as a package through political party negotiations.

European Commission

The European Commission is one of the key institutions of the European Union (EU), and it plays a central role in the EU’s decision-making and policy implementation. In summary we could say that the European Commission is a vital institution within the EU, acting as the executive arm responsible for proposing legislation, implementing policies, and overseeing the proper functioning of the Union. It plays a crucial role in shaping the EU’s agenda and ensuring the collective interests of member states are represented and implemented. Leaded by Ursula Von der Leyen, the whole Commission will be redefined after the upcoming EU elections and at the moment it look very probable that Von der Leyen will run for a second mandate as President. 

Legislative situation at the moment and political consensus

Brussels is currently in the process of shaping the first-of-its-kind regulation to govern Artificial Intelligence (AI) and curb its power. The EU, ahead of the US and China in the race to regulate AI, is engaged in negotiations to finalize landmark laws. However, the debate revolves around finding a balance that reins in AI without stifling innovation.

European Parliament members advocate for total bans on facial recognition, while member states seek to leverage the technology for crime prevention. There’s a particular focus on generative AI, like ChatGPT, with lawmakers proposing specific restrictions, but concerns linger about potential impacts on innovation.

Negotiators remain cautiously optimistic about reaching a deal, acknowledging the high stakes involved. The outcome of these discussions is poised to set a significant precedent for how other regions approach the regulation of AI technology.



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P. IVA 12561140968

Via Pattari, 6, 20122 Milano MI

Proud member of

© 2022 Created by ABCPRODUCTION.digital