EU in 2024: key political and policy changes ahead

EU in 2024: key political and policy changes ahead

While in the first half of 2023 the EU institutions will be busy finalising the remaining legislative files, starting from the second part of the year we will already be entering the electoral mode. The EU politicians are aware that the 2024 EP elections are going to be quite disruptive and are already preparing for their aftermath. And so should the stakeholders. 

What should stakeholders expect in 2024?

Our latest electoral projections point to the following (more details in the report below):

1) We are likely to see a high number of newcomers in the next European Parliament (at least 55% new MEPs);

2) The EPP is set to remain the largest group;

3) The next EP is likely to be (even) more fragmented, with the bigger groups, the EPP and S&D, losing further ground to the benefit of the smaller factions;

4) Polarisation: the size of the political centre (S&D, Renew, EPP) is set to become smaller, thus further complicating coalition-building in the EP;

5) On regulatory topics such as energy, data and pharmaceuticals, we expect the balance of power to shift towards pro-market forces.

Feel free to contact us at [email protected] to receive more comprehensive, up-to-date and detailed analyses on the next EU elections (e.g. projected number of seats by national parties, impact on specific policy areas, etc).

How many new MEPs can we expect in the next European Parliament?

Our latest projections show that one-third of MEPs are set to lose their seats due to electoral changes (e.g. their parties losing seats in the next elections). Additionally, other MEPs will be changed due to turnover within the ranks of established parties. This occurs mainly because in some parties the (sometimes new) leadership will want to send more loyal persons to Brussels/Strasbourg. For instance, in 2019 more than a third of the MEPs from parties such as CDU/CSU (Germany), Rassemblement National (France), Partito Democratico (Italy), Partido Popular (Spain), among many others, were replaced on the eligible positions of the electoral lists with newcomers.

The combined result of those two phenomena points to a minimum of 55% of newcomers in the next European Parliament. The actual number could even be higher due to another phenomenon: the anti-incumbency dynamics, which makes that in European elections freshly-established parties gain ground in the polls as we get closer to the elections.

This high proportion of MEPs’ turnover has important implications (both risks and opportunities) for stakeholders, as most of the newcomers will not be familiar with either the agenda or the procedures of the EU institutions. As a result, they will be looking for allies and information to navigate the intricacies of Brussels policy-making.

Which groups will gain / lose the most seats?

As the graph above shows, EPP and S&D would remain the two largest groups, although they would lose more than 10 seats compared to their current size, while we expect a small gain for Renew.

The right-wing camp would gain relevant ground due to the strong performance of ECR members (especially the Italians from Brothers of Italy and the Spanish from Vox), while the size of the ID group would remain about the same as now. 

After their overperformance in 2019, the Greens/EFA would lose their previous gains, due to the lower saliency of environmental topics in the public debate compared to a few years ago. Conversely, due to the strong polling of Mélenchon’s party, The Left would make gains and become similar in size to the Greens/EFA group.

Importantly, there are several new parties that still need to decide on their EP affiliation (most of them are from the right-wing nationalist camp and could join groups such ECR or ID).

Note: the affiliation of some national parties might change over the next few months, which could lead to different performances for some of the political groups. 

How will the elections affect coalition building in the European Parliament?

As shown by the following visuals, the share of the largest group in the European Parliament, the EPP, is set to further shrink in 2024. Furthermore, the combined share of the two largest groups (EPP and S&D) is set to reach a new low in 2024.

Note: click on the black arrows to navigate through the different visuals

These trends show that, regardless of the group that will get the highest number of seats in 2024, coalition building is set to become even more complicated in the future. 

Furthermore, it is important to note that the losses of the EPP and S&D groups are not fully compensated by the gains of other centrist forces. The combined share of EPP, S&D and Renew (the moderate groups in the EP) will decrease to a mere 56%, which is still a majority, but which is more difficult to achieve in case of disagreements between and within these political groups. 

Another important effect that we can expect due to the shrinking size of the European groups is even lower alignment within the political groups, i.e. individual MEPs and national parties are increasingly less motivated to follow the instructions of the rapporteurs of the European groups. Individual MEPs are harder to be kept in line if the group is smaller (hence weaker) and they see more opportunities to increase their personal profile by developing their own views across the policy issues (especially if they are engaged by stakeholders).

How will the new balance change policy orientations after the next EP elections? 

Certain pieces of legislation can have a very different shape if they are finalised before or after the 2024 elections, as the majorities will change on some key files. 

Our exclusive policy projections show a rather diverse picture, as the elections are set to have a bigger impact on some specific policy areas.

Note: our policy projections combine projections of seats in the European Parliament in 2024 with the policy positions of national parties based on their voting behaviour).

Note: click on the black arrows to navigate through the different visuals.

As our “gauge visuals” above show, topics on which we observe more consensus in the current European Parliament, such as EU-Russia relations or proposals to deepen EU integration, are unlikely to be significantly affected by the next EU elections (even though these topics are likely to be a key feature of the electoral campaign). 

In fact, the growth of forces such as ECR or The Left will have little impact on the balance of power on topics on where these groups are more isolated (such as EU integration or EU-Russia relations, respectively), as the other groups will still have enough seats to outvote them.

However, when it comes to topics on which the bigger groups tend to be more divided, such as migration, but especially regulatory topics such as energy, data protection or pharmaceuticals, we expect the balance of power to become more favourable to the pro-market forces. Thus, despite the EPP losing seats, the overall dynamics will make that EPP and its allies will be in a better position to win votes on these topics compared to now, thus promoting a more market-friendly approach to some of the internal market legislation.

With our advanced analytical tools, we are able to forecast the changing policy majorities after the next European elections on any regulatory topic. If you are interested to learn more about the current or future kingmakers in the European Parliament, feel free to contact us at [email protected]

Related posts