05/07/2024

Dispatch from Brussels: June 2024

EU TOP JOBS

Following the European Parliament election, European Union leaders began negotiations for top EU institution jobs. The key positions: 

  1. European Commission President: Ursula von der Leyen sought a second term. This is the most powerful position, responsible for legislative proposals. 

 

  1. European Council President: Charles Michel’s term was set to end in November. This role involved chairing EU summits and setting strategic directions and will be led by António Costa, former PM of Portugal. 

 

  1. Foreign Policy Chief: Josep Borrell planned to step down later in the year. This position chaired meetings of foreign, defense, and development ministers. The nominated one is Kaja Kallas, prime minister of Estonia.  

Selection process
  • EU leaders planned to meet informally on June 17 and formally on June 28-29 to finalize the candidates. 
  • Candidates needed a qualified majority, supported by 15 of the 27 leaders representing 65% of the EU population. Additionally, the European Parliament had to approve the Commission President and the entire Commission. 

 

Ursula von der Leyen, António Costa, and Kaja Kallas were nominated to lead the European Union for the next five years, despite opposition from the Italian and Hungarian leaders. EU leaders settled on the bloc’s political leadership during a Brussels summit, overcoming resistance from Italy’s Georgia Meloni and Hungary’s Viktor Orbán. Ursula von der Leyen was chosen as President of the European Commission, António Costa as President of the European Council, and Kaja Kallas as High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Leaders also approved the Strategic Agenda, a guiding document for the appointees’ future work. Von der Leyen and Kallas’s nominations still required European Parliament confirmation, whereas Costa, a former Portuguese prime minister, was automatically elected by his peers, taking office on December 1. Meloni voted against Costa and Kallas and abstained on von der Leyen, while Orbán voted against von der Leyen, abstained on Kallas, and supported Costa. Despite these objections, von der Leyen expressed gratitude for her nomination, Costa emphasized his commitment to unity and the Strategic Agenda, and Kallas acknowledged the responsibility amidst geopolitical tensions, pledging to serve Europe’s common interests. Party negotiators had preemptively agreed on the nominations, formalized after a debate among EU leaders. While some, like Meloni, criticized the process for lacking inclusivity, others, such as Germany’s Olaf Scholz and France’s Emmanuel Macron, aimed for a swift resolution due to current global challenges. Scholz highlighted the importance of preparation for major tasks, and Belgium’s Alexander De Croo rebuked Meloni’s criticism, emphasizing the need for political stability and swift action over the next five years. Von der Leyen stressed the importance of cooperation with all member states, including Italy. The selected leaders were familiar faces in European politics. Von der Leyen, from the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP), was the first woman to lead the Commission and was a frontrunner for re-election. Costa, from the Socialists & Democrats (S&D), was set to lead the European Council despite past political controversies. Kallas, a prominent figure in the EU’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, was chosen as High Representative. The selection balanced political, geographical, and gender diversity. Costa’s nomination also marked a historic first as the first non-white leader in a top EU position. The outcome recognized the centrist parties’ stability and defied predictions of a far-right surge, with von der Leyen negotiating a common program with Socialists and Liberals and inviting other parties to form a broad majority for a strong Europe. 



EU Strategic Agenda 2024-2029 

The European Union, established to secure peace in Europe through cooperation and economic prosperity, continues to uphold these principles. Today’s global landscape, marked by strategic competition, instability, and threats to the international order, poses significant challenges. Russia’s war in Europe, Middle East tensions, and environmental issues like climate change and pollution highlight the urgency for collective action. In the past five years, the EU has made strides in climate action and digital transition, developed and distributed vaccines, and set up a recovery fund in response to the pandemic. Additionally, the EU has provided substantial support to Ukraine amidst Russian aggression, underscoring its commitment to European security. Looking ahead, the EU aims to harness its combined strengths and resources with unity and resolve. Priorities include achieving climate neutrality, advancing digital transitions, addressing migration, and enhancing security and defensive capabilities. The EU seeks to become a global leader in addressing challenges, promoting international law, inclusive multilateralism, and sustainable growth. The foundation for these ambitions lies in strong social market economies and a spirit of entrepreneurship. By empowering companies to turn risks into opportunities, the EU plans to spur investment, boost economic growth, and lead in green and digital industries. Upholding values and the rule of law remains central to the EU’s vision, ensuring a prosperous and democratic future for its citizens. The European Council urges the European Parliament, the Council, and the Commission to implement these priorities in the next institutional cycle, aligning the Multiannual Financial Framework with these goals. This will ensure that the EU budget addresses future challenges and that European solutions are provided for European problems. 

New Parliament

The European People’s Party is celebrating after the EPP emerged victorious in the European Parliament election, securing around 184 seats, a quarter of the total. This solidifies the EPP’s influence, positioning it to steer EU policy to the right. While the EPP could form a grand coalition with the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) and the liberals of Renew Europe, it might also seek alliances with far-right parties without losing its centrist allies. Right-wings groups made significant gains, particularly in France and Italy. The National Rally in France and Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy achieved substantial support. The European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) and the Identity and Democracy (ID) group will hold 131 seats, with additional representation from Germany’s AfD, Hungary’s Fidesz, Poland’s Confederation, and Bulgaria’s Revival party. While uniting into a single far-right bloc remains improbable due to internal disagreements, their size will influence EU policy rightward and a lot of speculation is mounting of an Orban/LePen-led big group.  European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has a strong chance to retain her position, contingent on support from the EPP, S&D, and Renew Europe. However, the secret ballot process adds uncertainty, as she will need over 400 votes, and some EPP members may not back her. The Greens suffered significant losses, particularly in France and Germany, dropping from the fourth to the sixth largest party in Parliament. Despite small gains in countries like the Netherlands and Denmark, they will lose over a dozen seats, reflecting voter dissatisfaction with the Green Deal’s impact over the past five years.

French elections

The National Rally, led by Marine Le Pen and Jordan Bardella, achieved a historic victory in France’s legislative elections, coming first in the initial round with just over 33.1% of the vote. This marks a significant milestone for the party, nearly doubling its support since the last National Assembly elections in 2022. Despite this success, they may not secure a majority in the 577-seat lower chamber, with pollster Ipsos projecting 230 to 280 seats for Le Pen and her allies from the Republican party. President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist Ensemble coalition saw a decline, garnering just under 21% of the vote, a slight improvement from the recent European elections but down from the 2022 legislative elections. This poor performance may leave Macron’s coalition with only 70-100 seats. In contrast, the left-wing New Popular Front, an alliance of the Socialist Party, Greens, and Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s France Insoumise, achieved 28% of the vote, suggesting they could secure 125-165 seats. The second round of elections, set for July 7th, will be crucial, as the top candidates from each constituency proceed to determine the final composition of the National Assembly. This period will involve significant negotiation and potential electoral pacts, which could dramatically alter the results. Macron, who called the snap elections following a poor performance in the EU elections, faces a challenging landscape. In 2022, Macron’s coalition won 25% of the first-round vote but secured 42% of the seats, although he lost his majority. The current high turnout suggests a dynamic second round, with potential for shifts in power. Overall, the election results underscore the shifting political landscape in France, with significant gains for the far-right and challenges for the centrist and left-wing parties. The final composition of the National Assembly will hinge on the forthcoming second round, where alliances and voter turnout will play critical roles in determining the balance of power.

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hello@haizum.eu

P. IVA 12561140968

Via Pattari, 6, 20122 Milano MI

Proud member of

© 2022 Created by ABCPRODUCTION.digital