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One month before the elections…

Newsletter May 2024

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Matelly, S. “One month before the elections…”, Newsletter, Jacques Delors Institute, May 2024

Here we are, the next time you read the editorial in our monthly newsletter, we’ll be only a few days away from the European elections, which many people, including ourselves at the Institute, are explaining how essential they are for the future of Europe and Europeans.

First of all, it’s important to vote, because the European Parliament works by seeking compromises and, consequently, by forming coalitions. As the policy paper by Nathalie Brack and Awenig Marié published on our website this month reminds us, the centre-right EPP is the party which has always obtained the greatest number of seats since the first European elections in 1979. However, for several years this party hasn’t an absolute majority. Consequently, it has to find a coalition with other parties. Since 2019, most compromises have been reached thanks to a ‘grand coalition’ formed by a central bloc made up of the EPP associated to the Social & Democrats and the Renew group. The rise of the far right, predicted by all the polls, could alter this balance. However, knowing  that voters from these eurosceptic parties come out to vote more than those of the Europhile parties, participation in the next elections will be decisive.

Secondly, and it is almost trivial to point this out, Europeans face many current and future challenges, since the fight against climate change, which will revolve around the implementation of the Green Deal over the coming years, and whose complexity is already clear, the European economic decline in front of a competition which is no longer only between companies but more and more between States, leading to  more than ever to protectionist policies , which are harmful to a European economy that has to learn to protect itself while preserving the openness that still makes it a major trading power, or the geopolitical challenge and the need for Europe to assert itself as a major player in the world (some would say a powerful Europe). The June elections will outline the direction Europeans will take in the face of each of these challenges: progress or pause, withdrawal or openness, affirmation and defence of the common interests of Europeans or national preferences.

As usual, this month we have continued to open up new avenues for reflection and debate on all these issues. For example, the policy paper by Camille Defard and Thibaut Voïta looks at ways of strengthening Europe’s green sovereignty through the Critical Raw Materials Act, while Guillaume Arditti’s infographic provides a useful overview of economic and trade relations between Africa and Europe. In Brussels and Berlin too, the Jacques Delors Centres have been very active on the eve of the elections. Europe Jacques Delors is proposing a global agenda for the oceans to the next Commission via a Manifesto for a Pact for the Oceans. Sascha Ostanina in Berlin and Thierry Tardy in Paris suggest speeding up defence initiatives in line with the recent announcements by the Commission and the High Representative at the end of March.

Finally, the next five years will also be those in which not only the enlargement of the Union will be negotiated, but also its deepening, i.e. a reform of its institutions. In his article ‘Une Union toujours plus différenciée’, Sébastien Maillard points out the risks associated with this temptation to differentiate. Enrico Letta’s report, ‘Much more than a market’, submitted to the European Council on 17 April, opens up a number of topics for reflection and prospects for us at the Institute. The single market, championed by Jacques Delors, remains a key subject in our work and reflections on the future of Europe.

Sylvie Matelly 

Director of the Jacques Delors Institute