The European elections are behind us, but many questions have yet to be answered. The next few days should cast more light on who will be the next Commission president and which political groups will find common ground to shape the agenda of the new Parliament. Facts and comments.
Source: TNS/Scytl in cooperation with the European Parliament
What happens next:
The Conference of Presidents, which consists of the leaders of parliamentary groups and the EP president, meets early on Tuesday 27 May, to discuss what the results of the European elections mean for the political landscape in Europe and Parliament itself, as well as how they will influence the election of the president of the European Commission. They issued this statement, endorsing Jean-Claude Juncker to have the first try to build a coalition within the Parliament to be elected Commission President.
According to the European Parliament, the official nomination should come over the coming weeks from the European Council, where the EU heads of state or government meet. The first step for them is the informal dinner they have in Brussels on Tuesday evening to discuss the issue. The Lisbon Treaty states that in their choice of candidate, they should take into account the results of the elections.
The nominated candidate will then try to rally support from political groups in Parliament, which is expected to vote on whether to approve or not the Council candidate during the 14-17 July plenary session. For the nominee to get the EP’s approval, over half of all MEPs, meaning at least 376, should vote in his or her favour.
New political groups
Another issue to watch for is whether new groups emerge in the Parliament following the elections. Under the EP’s rules of procedure, at least 25 MEPs from a quarter of all EU countries (i.e. seven) are needed to form a new group. The official political groups in EP should be established before the first plenary session starting on 1 July.
During the first plenary session in July, MEPs will choose a new president and the vice-presidents of the Parliament.
Commission President José Manuel Barroso made the following statement on the outcome of the 2014 European Parliament elections: "The outcomes differ significantly between Member States. These differences reflect our Union's mix of a pan-European political debate with specific national agendas. As a consequence, all political leaders at national and European level must reflect on their responsibilities following this election.
When assessing the results, the fact that this election follows the biggest financial, economic and ultimately social crisis in decades must be kept in mind. It is extremely important that the political forces that led and supported the essential steps in the Union's joint crisis response, notably the political forces represented in the European Commission, have overall won once again. They are indeed those with the biggest representation in the new European Parliament. Results show that a very solid and workable majority in the European Parliament is possible.
Conditions are there for a solid support for a European Union that remains united and open whilst seeking to be stronger. Standing together as Europeans is indispensable for Europe to shape a global order where we can defend our values and interests. This is the moment to come together and to define the Union's way forward. The concerns of those who voted in protest or did not vote are best addressed through decisive political action for growth and jobs, and through a truly democratic debate."
Declaration by European Economic and Social Committee President Luca Jahier on the outcome of the European Parliament elections: "Now is the turning point for the EU!
Firstly, attendance at the elections. For the first time since 1979, the percentage of voters did not fall, but actually increased slightly above 43 per cent, even if there was a decline in voters in some countries such as Italy. Voter apathy was one of the main concerns during the last few months.
Secondly, the electoral college of 751 MEPs includes a majority of EPP MEPs (even if there is a reduction compared to 2009), the Socialists are the second group, and the Liberals, who also lost quite a few votes, are the third group in the European Parliament. The EP will not be ungovernable as many people feared. These three forces will constitute more than 63 per cent of the elected (at the last EP they made up 72 per cent) and the view prevalent in most European countries is that overall, the political forces which have shared and supported the principal decisions over the past five years have actually been the winners of these elections.
Thirdly, the diverse eurosceptic, europhobic and populist front, which include a number of national Nazi affiliates, have progressed everywhere, more than doubling their representation compared to 2009. However, these political forces will probably amount to just over 20 per cent and it is questionable if and how they will form a political group.
Hannes Swoboda, President of the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament, said: "The EPP lost massively - around one quarter of their previous seats. The EPP's huge losses clearly demonstrate people's discontent with right-wing politics. There are shocking gains by extremists in some countries, notably France, but overall we see a strong national component to the anti-European gains. This is not a European landslide victory for extremists and euro-sceptics. Nor did we see the announced drastic decrease in participation.
For the first time, we had a strong European campaign, though overshadowed by distractions and rumours about the process of common candidates. If we want to really engage voters in the future, we have to have a direct election of the European Commission President. This is the only way to turn 28 national elections into one genuinely European election. Our common candidate Martin Schulz proved that a European campaign is possible and his key demands – create jobs, fight tax evasion, increase democracy – will guide any future negotiations. Jean-Claude Juncker, as the candidate of the largest group, now has the full right to try to find a majority in the EP, starting with his own group."
Full press statement
Guy Verhofstadt, the ALDE group President underlined: "ALDE Member Parties emerged on top of the polls in six Member States and remains the third political force in the EU Assembly. Given the narrower gap between Christian Democrats and Socialists, ALDE’s continued role as kingmaker in Parliament is confirmed. We will seek to consolidate this position in the coming days and ensure that the future Parliament does not become a Trojan horse for euro-scepticism.
At the same time, Europe clearly needs to change its tune. That message at least is clear. I have been equally outspoken in my criticism of national complacency in responding to the financial crisis and have called incessantly for a radical change in thinking. We need to mobilise Europe’s scale and its Internal Market to stimulate a new growth spurt similar to that achieved with the original launch of the Single Market 30 years ago. This is no time to retreat behind our national borders and pander to populist scaremongering."
ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) hopes that the actors of this new EU legislature are ready for the daunting challenges on their agenda and looks forward to a fruitful collaboration.
ACCA advises that the re- and newly elected Members of the European Parliament face numerous political, economic and societal opportunities and challenges ahead, especially when making difficult choices that will have an impact on all people within and beyond the European Union.
Ewan Willars, Director of Policy at ACCA said: "We hope that this Parliament is determined to address the urgent crisis-related issues, especially those concerning unemployment and job creation. It is also crucial to further complete the Economic and Monetary Union and to continue working towards the promotion of economic growth and competitiveness.
The newly elected European Parliament will be a key actor in the shaping of instrumental policies in the years to come. We namely believe that particular attention should be brought to small businesses, the backbone of the economy. ACCA is convinced that SME policy should be at the heart of the EU’s economic recovery plan and that EU legislation shall pass the 'think small first' test", argued Ewan Willars.
Full press release
Further analysis by Deutsche Bank Research and Acumen
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