EU 2024: Half-way there, the sprint begins   

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There are three months left before this year’s EU elections on 6 to 9 June. By the end of March, a complete list of Spitzenkandidaten for the top European Commission job should be finalised. Since January, the pace of weekly political and legislative developments in Brussels has not slowed down. Previously contested laws such as the Nature Restoration law have been finalised, while others including the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive have been held hostage. The last two-month sprint begins before the last Plenary session of the current Parliament on 22 to 25 April.

No slowing down

In the course of February and the beginning of March, almost all European groups, that recognise the Spitzenkandidaten process, have put forward their candidates for the role of the next European Commission president. The Greens presented their duo as the first ones, Terry Reintke (Germany) and Bas Eickhout (the Netherlands). The European Left chose Walter Baier, a member of the Austrian Communist Party and the current president of the European Left, as their candidate. Similarly, the PES and the EPP, the two largest European parties, also put forward one candidate each. The two largest parties decided to bet on their current Commissioners. Nicolas Schmit from Luxembourg, the current Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, was officially confirmed on 2 March as the candidate for the PES (S&D Group in the Parliament). And as expected, the EPP announced on 7 March that Ursula von der Leyen will be their nominee. The last political group, the ALDE liberals (Renew in the Parliament), are expected to announce their candidate(s) at their 20-21 March European congress.

According to the February polls, the EPP and the S&D will remain the two biggest parties in the Parliament. As in January, the third place now goes to the far-right ID party (Identity and Democracy) with an expected 91 seats. In the race for fourth place, the ECR (European Conservatives and Reformists), the other far-right party, is one vote ahead of the liberal centrist Renew which is currently polling at 82 seats. On the left side of the spectrum, The Left is slowly catching up with the Greens, with a projected 45 seats. The Greens are projected to gain a total of 49 seats in the next Parliament.

Time to roll up the sleeves

Before MEPs and their staff pack their bags to either leave Brussels forever or tour their country in the hope of re-election, there is still some time to engage with the latter. As the next Parliament could be composed of up to 60% newcomers, it is even more essential to engage with senior MEPs seeking re-election. If re-elected, they will play a crucial role in the next mandate by taking the lead on the hearings of the next Commission President and other Commissioners. You can engage with them by scheduling a one-on-one meeting with an MEP to discuss your organisation’s take on the next mandate’s priorities and agenda or take a more public approach and try to get an MEP to endorse your pledge. Just one example: MEP Sirpa Pietikainen, (EPP, Finland) who is likely to return and was ranked amongst the top 10 influential MEPs on social policy, and one of the strongest supporters for higher climate targets, publicly signed a pledge for a zero waste Europe, ensuring that the issue of waste is not forgotten and continues to be a topic of discussion in the next mandate.


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