Outcome of the 2024 European elections: what has happened, what’s next and why it matters

Outcome of the 2024 European elections: what has happened, what’s next and why it matters

While you might have heard of the European elections results in your own country, you might still be wondering about the outcome at European level, what’s next and what it means for the years to come. 

Outcome of elections: what parties are up and which ones are down?

Source: European Parliament, 5 July 2024

The two largest groups of the European Parliament – the centre-right European People’s Party group (EPP) and the centre-left Socialists & Democrats group (S&D)- have maintained their positions, each owning about 1/4th and 1/5th of seats respectively. 

The most impactful changes have happened in the smaller political groups. The Centrist-Liberal Renew group, which used to be the third largest group, has been outnumbered this time by the European Conservatives and Reformists group. This is meaningful as the higher a group ranks in terms of number of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), the more privileges it gets in the day-to-day work of the European Parliament, for example getting longer speaking times or priority access to leadership on key legislative files. 

In the previous European elections in 2019, the youth strikes-for-climate demonstrations that mobilised millions of citizens and took place the same year, translated into a larger group of Green MEPs in the European Parliament. Such mobilisation didn’t take place this year. Consequently, the Greens group has lost a similar proportion of seats as the Renew group. 

What do the European election results mean in terms of balance of power?

First, this analysis is temporary as 6% of MEPs were elected with no affiliation with an existing political group. Since the elections, political groups have been busy organising themselves internally and negotiating with these new MEPs in hopes of growing their group’s number of seats. For example, the Left group has announced that the MEPs of the Italian 5-star movement have joined their forces while the Greens group has announced that the Volt MEPs have joined them too. 

We should have a clearer view of the balance of power between groups during the European Parliament’s first full meeting which is planned from 16 to 19 July. 

The most likely is that, going forward, a right-wing majority in the European Parliament will not be possible, despite opinion polls suggesting it as a possibility in the last weeks leading to the elections. Most new laws will therefore have to be adopted through the so-called Grand Coalition, a coalition of the three groups gravitating around the centre (EPP, S&D and Renew) where Renew traditionally tilts the balance to the right or to the left on a case-by-case basis, depending on the theme of the law that’s being voted upon. 

What happens after the European elections and why what matters most is still to come?

The outcome of the European elections sets in motion the renewal of the European Commission. Since the EPP has won the most seats in the European elections, Ursula von der Leyen, who comes from the EPP, is legitimate to be proposed again for a second mandate as European Commission President. Her nomination has been approved by Member States already. However, she needs to be elected by the European Parliament to be confirmed in her post. This is expected on 18 July. 

Once the new European Commission President is elected, Member States will start nominating their candidates for the post of Commissioner. Each EU Member State is entitled to one, which means there are 27 Commissioners in total. Like ministers in a national government, each Commissioner will get a portfolio of competences they will be responsible for presenting new laws on. The allocation of these portfolios are the responsibility of the new European Commission President. 

After the summer, once all Commissioner-candidates have been appointed, the European Parliament will quizz each of them during in-depth hearings. Ultimately, the new European Commission needs to be approved by a majority of the European Parliament. This is likely to take place in the autumn. 

Once the new European Commission is approved, each Commissioner will design what they plan to do for the 5 years to come. In 2019, a sense of urgency to respond to climate change led to the speedy presentation of the EU Green Deal strategy, just a few days after the election of the European Commission.

Source: Euractiv

How will ECOLISE continue its advocacy on the Time for Collective Action Manifesto? 

ECOLISE has campaigned intensely in the past months on promoting the Time for Collective Action Manifesto with citizens, partner NGOs (see the logos of partners here) and European Parliament candidates. You can read a review of the campaign here on our blog. We will continue to campaign with newly elected Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), new Commissioners and their staff.

This is necessary because advocacy for transformative change does not end with the elections. Our advocacy team will continue inspiring EU policymakers with the innovations coming from community-led initiatives. We plan to inspire them with hope and solutions so they can promote them in new policies and support the development of more community-led initiatives. 

Our continued effort is all the more important now that the leading political movement of the EU is tempted to put a stop to new environmental legislation. In fact, Member States intended to remove environmental ambition altogether from the political guidelines they prepared for the next European Commission. Thanks to NGO advocacy, some climate ambition has been maintained in the final text of these guidelines. However, much more NGO and community-led advocacy will be needed to motivate EU policy-makers to tackle the biodiversity collapse and wide-spread pollution effectively.

How can you help inspire policy-makers to act?

We, ECOLISE, the European network for community-led initiatives on climate change and sustainability, need your help to inspire EU policymakers’ actions! How?

  1. We will start a new dialogue with members and partners in the autumn to deepen our perspective on a topical policy theme, such as food systems and biodiversity. We will need your contribution to carry all the way up to Brussels the wealth of innovative and life-changing practices communities imagine on the ground. 
  2. If you haven’t, sign the Time for Collective Action Manifesto. The more signatures we get, the more policy-maker attention we catch.
  3. Continue to share the stories of your community-led initiatives. Such real-life examples are crucial for policy-makers to understand the power and potential of our actions. Our campaign toolkit provides guidance on how to tell your story, which you can then submit here to get featured on this website.
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