Politics & Economics

Why the next EU Parliament is unlikely to be majority EPP/ECR

June 2023
By Gianni Pittella

The upcoming European elections are likely to produce an outcome that, in my view, makes it unlikely for the majority of the Parliament to be held by a coalition of the EPP (European People’s Party) and ECR (European Conservatives and Reformists). While it is possible to speculate on an increase in support, especially for the conservatives, thanks in part to the growth of Premier Meloni’s party, it is difficult to imagine a simultaneous drastic fall in support both for the right and left populist and Eurosceptic forces, as well as for the socialists, liberals, and greens, to the extent that it would render the PPE/ECR coalition self-sufficient. I add that, besides being unlikely, such an outcome would not be desirable given the challenges that the European Union must face.

We are coming from one of the most turbulent phases in the history of the European Union, with a series of Brexit, Covid, the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, and judicial events that have deeply shaken the solidity of European institutions in just a few years.

We are in the midst of a stagnant economic situation, and financial defaults, although not within the borders of the EU and the eurozone, are significant. It’s true that the European Union’s response to such events has been effective and, in some ways, courageous.

The European Commission put forward the recovery plan, finally approved after the marathon European Council meeting in July 2020, when the 27 Leaders reached an agreement on NextGenerationEU and the new multiannual financial framework 2021-2027, for what has been bluntly dubbed an economic “bazooka” of 1824.3 billion euros.

Beyond the economic substance of the recovery plan, NextGenerationEU marked a watershed in the European project: the issuance of common European debt to finance the recovery fund, agreed upon after lengthy negotiations aimed at convincing the more “rigorous” Member States.

But it is also true that this Plan now needs to be implemented, and we Italians are well aware of the difficulties we are encountering in implementing our substantial NRRP.

The expenditure of the funds planned for the 21/28 programming must be accelerated, the Stability and Growth Pact must be rewritten in a more courageous manner favorable to sustainable growth, we must push harder for a peace plan that preserves the territorial integrity of Ukraine, which will also need to be rebuilt.

We must accelerate the accession of the Balkan countries and Ukraine itself, but not without establishing new internal operating rules that ensure the speed of decision-making processes in an even larger EU.

And we must continue the two transitions, energy and digital, and equip ourselves with a sovereign fund to finance an industrial policy that can withstand international competition.

I have mentioned only some of the most important challenges.

To think that in the face of such ambitious and decisive challenges, a weak coalition could be formed with an unlikely narrow majority is misleading as well as harmful.

The particular situation that the EU lives and will live in the coming years requires a much broader and solid alliance, including the liberal, socialist, environmentalist, and democratic components that will be represented in the European Parliament.