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Post-electoral assessment: higher turn-out to EU elections contained the Eurosceptic vote

28 mayo 2019

More participation to EU elections and reinforced forces within the European Parliament will create new windows of opportunities for European cities and regions, especially in development cooperation.    

Despite alarming forecasts, the turn-out to EU elections raised by 8% in average in the 28 EU Member States, reaching 51%. This peak never seen since 1979 can be seen as foreshadowing a higher interest to EU related affairs, in particular migration, economic development, climate action and security. By taking part in the EU elections, half of European citizens, even the most Eurosceptic ones, have given a large legitimacy to their common institution, or at least recognised its power.

Beyond far-right, two new forces grow in the European Parliament

The expected Eurosceptic wave did not take place however traditional leading European parties, EPP (Christian-Democrats) and S&D (Socialists), have lost their monopoly over the European assembly. The two groups won’t be able to find majorities without the Liberals (ALDE) and/or Greens (Greens/EFA). Therefore, further European construction, business opportunities, larger markets but also climate action, energy efficiency and environment protection could appear as dealmakers in the future Parliament.

An opportunity for local and regional governments and decentralised cooperation

The growing Eurosceptic vote still represents a threat for the sustainability of the European institutions. Towns, cities and regions are the foundations on which the European institutions rely. They are the missing connection between the EU, Member States and citizens. Local and regional leaders are in a unique position to understand citizens’ concerns and therefore make the link with what EU policies need to deliver.

At the European Council Summit on 20-21 June, EU leaders will discuss the Strategic Agenda 2019-2024. They shall embrace sustainable development as the overarching strategy of all EU policies, both inside and outside Europe. Member States, municipalities, cities, regions, should commit to build a common sustainable future, together with the citizens and civil society organisations.

European local and regional governments commit to provide political insights, expertise and feedback from the reality of citizens in their municipalities and regions on social and environment concerns, but also on international challenges such as climate urgency, migration, responsible consumption and production, public space, security and peace, putting cooperation at the heart of problem solution. On the other way around, local and regional governments should count on EU political groups which support local self-governance, local empowerment through decentralisation, and multilevel, multi-stakeholder and between-peers cooperation.

Long-standing MEPs and new faces

Despite a strong turnover within MEPs, it is worth noticing the re-election of several members of the committee on Foreign affairs, including its Chair David McAllister (Germany, EPP), but also long-lasting MEPs like Arnaud Danjean (France, EPP) or former Latvian Minister and Commissioner Sandra Kalniete (Latvia, EPP). In the committee on Development, MEPs Charles Goerens (Luxembourg, ALDE) and Heidi Hautala (Finland, Greens/EFA) are confirmed.

Moreover, new important players are to join: Pietro Bartolo (Italy, S&D), known as the “doctor of migrants”, as well as Damien Carême (Greens/EFA, France), shortlisted for the World Mayor Prize 2016, both managed to gain a seat. Pascal Canfin (France, ALDE), France’s former Delegated Minister of Development and former Director General of WWF France, is also to re-join the Parliament.

New MEPs and their political groups who will understand the assets of cooperation with cities and regions can be assured to find their propositions understood better and developed faster. No doubt that MEPs involved in the future Committee on Development can trust its former Chair, MEP Linda McAvan (United Kingdom, S&D): “I have worked in Local government, it’s the governance level which gets concrete things done, therefore they have a major role to play in development cooperation” (PLATFORMA 10 years anniversary, 10 October 2018).

Check as well CEMR’s post-election reaction by President Stefano Bonaccini and Secretary general Frédéric Vallier

(Picture: © European Union 2019 – Source: European Parliament)