Dr. Ralf Pastleitner

The EU votes on its political future

The European elections have concluded on 26 May, with the last polls closing late in the night in Italy. What this “great exercise of European democracy” (as one spokesperson put it) has brought forth will set the pace and direction of decision-making in Brussels for the coming years. The elections brought many successes and failures, but crucially also a welcome surprise: voter turnout. After turnout percentages had been on a long-term downwards trend ever since 1979, provisional results set the turnout at nearly 51% (an increase of ~8% compared to 2014).

In terms of voting results, the large groups of the European People’s Party (EPP) and the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) expectedly declined significantly and no longer command a joint majority in the chamber. Conversely, the pro-European Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) and Greens (Greens/EFA) have made considerable gains, cementing their role as so-called “kingmakers”, that is to say parties required to create a majority that can confirm the next President of the European Commission. Lastly, the Eurosceptic parties have made headway, including the ItalianLega, British Brexit Party and German AfD. As such, the European Parliament has become more fragmented, but also more diverse. Climate change and migration are issues which will certainly rise higher on the EU political agenda, pushed by the new power brokers in the chamber, while the Parliament will face increasingly difficult and controversial decision-making.

© European Union, 2019 – Source: European Parliament

Meanwhile, internal negotiations and preparations for the distribution of the EU’s most powerful posts are already underway. Posts to be filled are the Presidency of the European Commission, European Council and European Parliament, alongside a range of influential posts in each institution. The European Council has met on 28 May to discuss the outcome of the vote and is due to nominate its candidate for President of the European Commission on 21 June.

The European Parliament might present its own preferred candidate before that date, or alternatively react to the Council’s proposal afterwards. Whoever will become the President of the European Commission, needs the support of at least 20 of the EU’s 28 leaders representing 65% of the European population, and at least 376 of the 751 votes in the European Parliament. The dust will settle in the autumn, as the new Commission is expected to take office in November and move forward with its confirmed political programme.

TUI Group’s Corporate office in Brussels will continue its constructive engagement with familiar and new EU policymakers, in the interest of promoting a smart, sustainable and growth-focused European tourism agenda.

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