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Far right, climate, Ukraine... the big issues in the European elections

Some 370 million voters are being called to the polls from 6 to 9 June in the 27 EU countries to elect 720 members of the European Parliament: here are the main issues at stake in this extraordinary election.

How far will the far right rise?

Polls predict a rise in power of the radical and nationalist right, after their rise in several national elections. Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is herself the head of the list of her post-fascist party Fratelli d'Italia.

Far right, climate, Ukraine... the big issues in the European elections

The far right in the European Parliament © AFP – Bertille LAGORCE, Sabrina BLANCHARD

These rights are divided into two groups in Parliament: ECR (“Conservatives and Reformists”) includes Fratelli d'Italia, the Polish Law and Justice (PiS) party, Vox (Spain) and Reconquête (France) , while ID (“Identity and Democracy”) brings together the French National Rally, the Italian League and the Dutch PVV of Geert Wilders – the German AfD was recently excluded.

< p>The President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, candidate for a second term and from the European People's Party (EPP, right, first party in Parliament), has ruled out cooperating with the ID parties, accused of being allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

But she claims to be ready to work with ECR and Giorgia Meloni – to the great dismay of the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) and Renew Europe (centrists and liberals), main allies of the EPP in the “grand coalition” where compromises are forged and which allows most of the texts to be adopted.

Rest namely which group will join the Fidesz of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who is eyeing the ECR.

The radical right parties could, in cumulative number of MEPs, surpass the EPP, but the recurring hypothesis of an ECR-ID merger remains complicated due to their significant differences – notably on Russia, Europe and the economy.

Which leaders will embody the EU?

The political balances resulting from the elections will determine the allocation of “top jobs”: heads of EU institutions (Commission, Council, Parliament), high representative of diplomacy…

< p>The leaders of the Twenty-Seven want to decide on this distribution during a summit on June 27-28.

Far right, climate, Ukraine... the big issues in the European elections

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, during a plenary session at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, April 23, 2024 © AFP – FREDERICK FLORIN

Most of the large groups have nominated their candidate for the presidency of the Commission: the EPP being expected in the lead, its candidate Ursula von der Leyen is favorite for her reappointment.

But this will have to be confirmed by the heads of state and government, then by a vote of MEPs – perhaps as early as July.

Contested within the EPP and criticized by the left and the liberals for having approached Giorgia Meloni, her reappointment is however not certain. The former head of the Italian government Mario Draghi is one of the alternatives mentioned.

What future of the Green Deal?

< p>End of new thermal cars in 2035, imported deforestation, carbon tax at borders… after major progress on certain aspects already adopted, the “Green Deal”, a gigantic package of environmental legislation, is now polarizing the protests.

Far right, climate, Ukraine... the big issues in the European elections

European Parliament: the main votes on the Green Deal © AFP – Valentin RAKOVSKY, Paz PIZARRO

Socio-economic impact, “burden” for businesses and households, agricultural anger, calls for a regulatory “pause”: in unison with the far right, the EPP demands not to strengthen the binding green measures, to better boost industry and competitiveness.

A Parliament where the far right had more influence would be likely to block climate legislation for the future -2030, or even complicate the application of texts already adopted, some of which include revision clauses (end of thermal engines, etc.)

Sign of a clear decline in environmental concerns, the Greens could lose 40% of their MEPs, according to polls.

What message for Ukraine?

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is pushing Europeans to strengthen their defense industry and their security, but they are struggling to generate the necessary funds.

Brussels has proposed a new strategy with 1.5 billion euros to help manufacturers in the sector work better together, which remains to be negotiated.

Lack of agreement with a view to a new European loan, based on the model of the post-Covid recovery fund, the file will animate the discussions of the new Parliament devoted to the multiannual budget of the EU.

The MEPs – lacking competence over foreign policy – will hardly influence the debates on the possible sending of troops to Ukraine, but could influence future negotiations with kyiv for its accession to the EU.

Behind the EU, national issues

The vote is divided into 27 separate elections, with as many national issues.

Far right, climate, Ukraine... the big issues in the European elections

The voting method for the European elections © AFP – Valentin RAKOVSKY, Hervé BOUILLY, Julie PEREIRA

In France, attention will focus on the score of Emmanuel Macron's presidential party, which stages its “duel” with the National Rally and is closely followed by the socialist list of Raphaël Glucksmann – from which sharpens speculation on a recomposition of the national political landscape.

In Germany, the parties of the ruling coalition – Greens, liberals, socialists – could suffer from distrust towards the government.

In Slovakia, the attack on pro-Russia Prime Minister Robert Fico has shaken up the campaign and could boost support for his populist coalition.

In Poland, where the pro-EU government of Donald Tusk came to power at the end of 2023, the campaign remained marked by the anger of farmers, supported by the opposition party PiS.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116