EU Friday – 31 May

Home / EU Friday / EU Friday – 31 May

EU Friday

Welcome to Better Europe’s weekly update on EU Affairs.



Ahead of the next mandate, Euractiv invited five experts to talk about lessons to learn from the current action plans for the upcoming 5 years. Despite coming from different backgrounds (industry, Commission, Member State, and CSO), all experts spoke in unison when talking about the biggest lesson to learn, namely the need for a Just Transition with an emphasis on the social aspect. There is no discussion about the need to continue the Green Deal, with participants highlighting the need to preserve legal coherence and legal certainty for the investments that are needed. However, the Green Deal is not likely to continue in its current form, but will instead move towards the new and trendy narrative of implementation. It is uncertain whether we can we be sure that the effectiveness of implementation will be sufficient, given the recent reluctance to approve Green Deal initiatives such as the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive, the Nature Restoration Law which is still to be voted by the Council, and the Energy performance of Buildings Directive which entered into force just this week. On top of this Europe-wide hesitance, the Polish expert invited at the event did not bring more comfort when stating that Poland during its Council Presidency may want to revisit energy-related files to ensure that the EU’s security of energy supply rules are “waterproof”.



As the EU elections from 6 to 9 June are near, the Greens continue to struggle in the polls across the EU, and particularly in Member States in which they had good results in 2019. In Germany, where they finished in a solid second position with more than 20% of the votes five years ago, the Greens are expected to lose about one third of their MEPs. In neighbouring Austria, their head of list Lena Schilling – a young climate activist presented as the Austrian Greta Thunberg – is entangled in a media storm and is being accused of repeating false claims about her entourage. This has led the Greens to lose trust among potential voters, as Schilling’s trust rating fell by 33 points. Even more concerning is the situation of the Greens in France, where they might deliver the worst-ever result in an EU election. The list headed by current MEP Marie Toussaint is flirting dangerously with the 5% election threshold necessary to send MEPs to Brussels. Any result below 5% would mean the disappearance of the French delegation in the Greens/EFA parliamentary group, and would further weaken a group whose influence is already expected to shrink considerably after 9 June.



Belgium, host country to the three main EU institutions although not formally to the European Parliament, is organising elections at all political levels this year, with the regional and federal elections aligned to those of the European Parliament on 9 June. A second round of elections will take place on 13 October for the municipal councils and the provincial councils (except in the Brussels region). One of the main uncertainties in Belgium is whether the two right-wing Flemish parties N-VA and Vlaams Belang would together be able to attract an absolute majority – even if senior N-VA politicians are saying they will not go into a government with Vlaams Belang. A hard right Flemish government would also lead to massive conflicts between the federal and the regional level, because all other parties on the francophone and the Dutch-speaking side have indicated they are not willing to collaborate with Vlaams Belang. At the moment, the two right-wing parties are polling at 48% together and an absolute majority is not even expeted. On the progressive side, S&D-affiliated Vooruit is doing very well, recuperating its losses to the green Groen party over the last years. In French-speaking Belgium, traditional leader PS (S&D) is neck-and-neck with the MR liberals, with Les Engagés (EPP) polling third, ahead of Ecolo (Greens) and the extreme-left PTB-PvdA, the only party in Belgium that never split along linguistic lines. In Brussels, home to the EU institutions, MR is almost certain to overtake Ecolo and the PS, to become the largest party at 23% of votes. Still, the city remains extremely left-leaning, with 48% of votes expected to be cast for the three left-wing parties (S&D/Greens/LEFT).