Final days before the 2024 European elections

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Between 6 and 9 June, European voters across 27 Member States will head to the polls to elect the new European Parliament (EP). The Netherlands will open these three days process on 6 June, followed by Ireland and Czechia on 7 June. On Saturday 8 June, citizens in Slovakia, Latvia, Malta and Italy will take to the poll, followed by a majority of Member States voting on Sunday 9 June. We are therefore expecting the results of the elections on Sunday night.  

The voting days, but also the procedure, electoral systems, voting age, can differ from one country to another, usually following the rules these countries apply to other elections. Resources are available online to guide all European citizens in the process, country by country: https://elections.europa.eu/en/  

Voters will be electing 720 members of the European Parliament. Each country’s representation is based on population size, with the most seats allocated to Germany with 96 seats, France with 81, 76 for Italy, 61 for Spain and 53 for Poland. At the other end of the spectrum, Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta hold just six seats each. 

What can we expect from these elections?

The upcoming EU elections promise a shift in the political balance of power in Brussels. The polls expect that the traditional grand coalition, consisting of the social democrats (Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, S&D), Christian Democrats/center-right (European People’s Party, EPP) and liberals (Renew Europe, RE), will lose ground. In contrast, the more far right-leaning parties, such as the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) and Identity and Democracy (ID), are expected to gain significantly. We are indeed seeing a tight race to become the third biggest political group between Renew Europe, ECR and ID.  

This shift will have a significant impact on the European Parliament’s organisation and positions on future legislative work. Indeed, as detailed below, the weight of each political groups and the composition of the European Parliament impacts the attribution of key position with the parliament itself (the lead negotiators on file for example), and the future of the European Commission.  

What happens in the weeks and months following the elections?

From 10 June onward, a series of formal next steps, intertwined with numerous negotiations and political arrangement, will determine the organisation of the European Parliament, as well as the future of the European Commission.  

For the European Parliament, the first step will be for newly-elected MEPs to form political groups according to shared political beliefs. Each group in Parliament must have at least 23 MEPs from seven EU countries. Groups will hold meetings to decide on their composition before the first new plenary which starts on 16 July. During this first plenary session, MEPs will elect their new President and vice-presidents, as well as decide on the number of MEPs that will be sitting in each parliamentary committee. After the constitutive plenary, the committees will then hold their first meetings to elect their respective chairs and vice-chairs. These key position in the EP are attributed based on the weight of each political group. The larger the political group, the more points it has, and these points enable it to “buy” parliamentary committee chairmanships, vice-presidencies, etc. Each political family chooses the positions it is interested in, one after the other, until its points and places are exhausted. 

The next important steps concern the role of the EP in the future of the European Commission. The first step, which should take place in July already, is for the EP to approve the new President of the European Commission, whose name will be put forward by the European Council. After the summer, the newly appointed Commission President and EU countries will then propose candidates for new Commissioners. Each of the 27 Member States gets to send a Commissioner, and difficult political negotiations will have to take place to decide which country will get which portfolio. The Parliament will then organise hearings of the Commissioner-designates so that MEPs from the relevant parliament committees can assess the suitability of candidates for their proposed portfolios. It is important not to dismiss the role of the EP, who has in the past decided to reject prominent candidates from becoming Commissioners.  

The process in Parliament will finish with a plenary vote, expected in the autumn, where MEPs will have to decide whether to approve the composition of the Commission as a whole. 

Why is the European Parliament important?

The European Parliament plays a significant role in the life of citizens and the day-to-day of businesses. As co-legislator, together with the Council of the European Union (where Member States seat), the EP has the opportunity to amend proposals put forward by the European Commission. This means that any legislation coming from the EU (and there are many) is influenced by the decision taken in this institution.  

In the past five years only, the European Union adopted a wide range of legislation impacting directly the day-to-day of e-commerce players in the EU. From the Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act, new requirements on the safety and sustainability of all products in the EU market, new rules on packaging, consumer law and so on. The rules adopted impact not only actors active across the Single Market and selling cross-border, but also dictates in large part national laws impacting everyone.  

The EU, and therefore the EP, will continue to play a significant part in the regulations impacting the e-commerce sector. We can already anticipate new legislation being discussed on green claims, the design of online interfaces, new requirements regarding the management of waste and so on.  

Ecommerce Europe, as representative of the sector in the EU, laid out earlier this year its priorities for these elections, and the for the upcoming years.  

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