Democracy Unleashed: Here Comes the European Parliament Elections!

For political geeks, there’s nothing more exciting than an upcoming election. The thrill of watching the polls, waiting for the manifestos, comparing the candidates, crunching the numbers to work out the majorities, watching the campaigns unfold and the blips, slips and spills along the way... Election fever has been ripe in Brussels for a long time now but as we enter the final days before the polls open across each EU member state, political geeks are very excited - and for public affairs professionals, it's almost as exciting as landing a new client.

These European Parliament elections will determine the political lay of the land for the next 5 years. Much has already been said about what we can expect from this next legislature, much of it going by what the polls are telling us: a shift the (far) right, less green, more brown, more pro-business but equally more nationalistic. Some of these projections are also like looking into a crystal ball: even after the ballots have all closed and the votes are in, many intriguing twists and turns will still lay ahead.

After each Treaty change and with each new House, the European Parliament has always increased its power. In 2019 it successfully changed three Commissioner-designates, including one from a ‘Big’ member state in France. Should the trend continue, and the polls continue to show what they are showing (a very fragile majority for the EPP, S&D and RE, with a majority for the right-to-far right wing), then pushing the power button further will no doubt keep Ursual von der Leyen awake at night as she seeks a second term as President of the European Commission – for which she needs the Parliament’s blessing (or at least 361 MEP votes).

FIPRA will be following closely how this all works out, keeping our clients on top of the expected changes and what this means for business. For now, however, we’re delighted to share more broadly our take on what is happening “on the ground” in some important member states.

We start with Belgium, the current holders of the Presidency of the EU. A country that is so fragmented in itself that it just seems right to include an analysis of what is happening at the ‘heart of the EU’. The analysis continues with France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

Should you need guidance on how to makes sense of these upcoming changes, do reach out to the FIPRA European Parliament Task Force team. Elections lead to change, and we have the expertise to ensure your business is ready, engaged and can have a positive impact in this process – we can work with you, to achieve good for people, the planet and continued business growth.


Belgians will go to the polls on June 9th for federal, regional and European elections, effectively appointing representatives to 7 (!) legislative bodies with various roles, powers and competences for five-year terms. With local elections being held on October 10th for a six-year term, political stakes are high in 2024 in Belgium.

The outgoing federal government led Prime Minister Alexander De Croo is unlikely to be continued. The seven-party coalition of christian-democrats, liberals, social-democrats and greens managed the COVID and energy crises reasonably well. However, with fundamentally opposing views and interests, the government never pursued hard-needed social and economic reforms in all areas of policy, in particular taxation, pensions and social security. Regional governments in Flanders, Brussels and Wallonia are equally expected to change. Today, Belgium faces one of the worst budget deficits and one of highest public debts in the EU, a challenge that the next government(s) will have to address with priority.

What's at stake for business?

  • Healthcare To balance the budget, cuts in reimbursements of medical treatments is likely, at the expense of the pharmaceutical industry. The outgoing federal minister for Health has already hinted about “this possibility.” At the same time, Belgium governments remain strong supporters of major international pharmaceutical industry footholds in the country.
  • Green transition Belgian industry is complaining about high energy costs undermining its global competitiveness. The Belgian government is investing heavily in the development of offshore electricity grid connections and green hydrogen imports as a decarbonised alternative to gas. New nuclear power plants may be on the new government’s table.
  • Digital The country has seen several high-profile corporate hackings. The next governments will pay increased attention to cybersecurity, as well as the use of AI in various fields.


The latest opinion polls indicate that the far-right Rassemblement National (RN), part of the Identity & Democracy group in the EP, could be the leading party for the second time in EU elections, with 32% of the vote. The presidential majority's party, Renaissance (RE), part of the  Renew Europe group, is trailing behind at 16%, challenged by the center left Parti Socialiste (PS) and allies, affiliated with the Socialists & Democrats group, at 13%.

The French conservatives Les Républicains, members of the European People’s Party -- are likely to become even weaker, with only 6.5% of voting intentions. Other parties expected to gain some seats include La France Insoumise, affiliated to The Left in the EP (approximately 8.5% of voting intentions), the French Greens (around 7%), and the new radical right list Reconquête (5%) which has joined the Eurosceptic ECR group.

EU election campaigns in France typically focus on national rather than EU issues, as they usually occur 1-2 years after the general elections, providing voters with an opportunity to 'punish' those in power.

What's at stake for business?

  • Digital – All parties’ manifestos promote digital sovereignty and support the principle of increasing investment in digital and in AI, to make the EU a leader in supercomputing. Relaxation of regulations and standards, a regulatory break, the creation of a European sovereign fund and a “buy European” act are proposals taken up by several parties.
  • Green transition - The leading lists agree on the need to move away from fossil fuels, but they want to increase the role of nuclear energy in the European energy mix. Several programs call for a response to the U.S. IRA and for stimulating production and innovation in Europe, but differ on the financing methods (joint borrowing, taxation of profits, introduction of European preference mechanisms).
  • Healthcare - All the lists propose achieving the objective of European autonomy in the production of medical equipment and medicines. The relocation of pharmaceutical production through financial support mechanisms and the creation of a strategic stockpile are identified as priorities. French political parties agree on the need to increase investment in medical research. Lists such as RE and PS propose grouped purchases of medicines.
  • Transport - Several lists call for new measures, including funding programs to develop rail infrastructure or extending the CBAM tax to new sectors such as the automotive industry. Right-leaning lists call for lifting the 2035 ban on selling new internal combustion vehicles.


This election is shaping up to become a referendum in Germany on the current state of the governing coalition headed by Chancellor Olaf Scholz. His administration has seen a steady decline in popularity, with increasing frustration over the growing tensions between its political factions.

Recent polls show that for the European elections the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), running together with its Bavarian “sister party” the Christian Social Union (CSU) would reach 29%. The Greens would reach 14%; the social democratic SPD would currently be at 15% and the far-right AfD would improve to 14%. The liberal FDP would be at 4%. The recently founded left-wing Sahra Wagenknecht Alliance (BSW), which has not yet taken part in a European election, would currently score 6%. All other parties would account for 12%.

CDU politician Ursula von der Leyen has been President of the European Commission since 2019. Both the Group of the European People's Party in the European Parliament and the CDU/CSU in Germany support a further term of office for von der Leyen. This has met with a mixed response from voters in Germany: 42% would be in favor of another term in office, including majorities from the CDU/CSU, SPD and Greens. Just as many voters (41%), on the other hand, reject a second term of office for von der Leyen as Commission President, with a majority of AfD (88%) and BSW (69%) supporters.

What's at stake for business?

  • Digital & Tech - Digital policy is included in the programs of all the parties. While they differ in terms of the importance they attach to this topic, there are also differences in focus - such as a more social or more economic connotation. By some, digital policy is addressed with populist rhetoric. As right-wing populist and far-right parties could have a large share of seats in the new European Parliament, the question also arises as to what impact this could have on digital policies such as the DSA or GDPR.
  • Healthcare - Leading up to the elections, healthcare is a prominent campaign issue. The social democrats emphasize protecting consumer and human rights and aligning developments with European values to avoid tech monopolies. The Greens and FDP support a European health data space that enhances patient rights, data protection, IT security, and transparent data management, while fostering innovation and reducing bureaucracy. The CDU/CSU proposes a digital European patient record. The Left Party advocates for public and cooperative platforms for public services, including a care platform with cooperative and nonprofit providers.
  • Green Transition - An important topic for the upcoming legislature will be the "Green Deal" aiming to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050 including a series of laws and measures, such as the "Fit for 55" package. The CDU/CSU and FDP advocate for a more business-friendly adjustment through bureaucracy reduction and SME-friendly measures. The SPD and the Greens support the Green Deal, with the SPD aiming to combine industry, climate protection, and social progress, while the Greens focus on climate-neutral modernization of the economy. The Left and Sarah Wagenknecht Alliance criticize the Green Deal as insufficient and instead call for a European industrial foundation.


EU policies are taking a backseat to domestic issues on the campaign trail, as evidenced by the candidates’ messaging focused on national dossiers and by the fact that several party leaders are running to galvanise their voter bases despite having no intention of taking up a seat in Strasbourg if elected.

PM Meloni’s Brothers of Italy (ECR) and Lega (ID) are running on similar political platforms, calling for the EU to focus on few, major challenges that are better addressed through common action, leaving all other competences to Member States. Both parties oppose the EU’s climate policies, advocate for more lenient fiscal rules, and want to strengthen the bloc’s external borders. Forza Italia (EPP) wants to deepen European integration in the areas of defence, debt issuance, and finance and enact a set of pro-business policies.

As for the opposition, the Democratic Party (S&D) prioritises expanding workers’, civil, and social rights across the EU. The Greens-Left Alliance (Greens/EFA, GUE/NGL) is proposing an ambitious environmental agenda and wants to fight economic and social inequality. The 5-Star Movement has made the promotion of peace in Ukraine and Gaza the centrepiece of its campaign. Parties affiliated to RE want to overhaul the EU’s Treaties and make progress towards a federal Europe.

What's at stake for business?

  • Healthcare The Italian Government has taken a critical stance on the Commission’s approach to the revision of the EU pharmaceutical legislation, particularly as the proposed reform would weaken IP protection and, thus, jeopardise the attraction of investments in the R&D in the pharma sector. Brothers of Italy was the only national delegation within ECR to maintain a strong pro-IP protection stance during the first reading at the EP, aligning itself with the EPP rather than with other ECR delegations.
  • Green transition/Transport The ruling parties strongly advocate a more gradual approach to the green transition and support policies based on economic sustainability and technological neutrality, while opposition parties are in favour of a faster process for achieving the international and EU climate goals. Both Lega and Brothers of Italy have consistently criticised the European Commission’s focus on the electrification of the automotive sector, claiming that it would disproportionately benefit China. Moreover, Italy was the only Member State alongside Hungary to vote against the stricter emission-reduction targets set by the EU Green Homes Directive.


For Spain and Spanish voters, the European elections mark the end of a year long string of elections, which began in February of last year with regional elections in the region of Galicia, included snap general elections called by the Prime Minister, in July of last year, and with the Catalan elections in May of this year.    

They take place within the framework of a very weak national coalition Government led by the socialist Pedro Sanchez, who needs the parliamentary support of a splintering of smaller radical, far-left and pro-independence parties from the regions of the Basque Country, Catalonia and Galicia, and on-going negotiations with the Catalan radicals on the formation of a new Government in Catalonia.

The socialist party and the conservative popular party are expected to win the largest number of the 61 seats assigned to Spain in the European Parliament.  The conservative popular party is expected to win the elections with 35% of the votes and 23 seats, followed by the socialists with 30% and 20 seats, and the far-right VOX with 10% and 6 seats. The remaining 25% of the votes, or 12 seats, will be split amongst communists and the radical pro-independence regionalist parties of the Basque Country, Catalonia and Galicia.

For the Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, actively involved in the election campaign, these elections will reflect voter support for his national policy on relations with the region of Catalonia and with the radical pro-independence parties in this region.   His Environment Minister, Teresa Ribera is first on the list of socialist candidates, and is running on a campaign in favour of more green policy, tougher climate change and CO2 emission targets, a faster transition to renewable energies and sustainable fuels and more intervention on electricity and gas markets.  Teresa is also vying for becoming a European Commissioner, possibly Environment Commissioner.

The conservative popular party is running a campaign based on more European Union, and less Europe of the regions, and centered on reactivating the economic reforms, more internal market and EU integration, the creation of more competitive companies and a more active role for Europe on geopolitical matters.

FIPRA European Parliament Task Force

For any support in navigating the upcoming changes, feel free to reach out to the FIPRA European Parliament Task Force team. As the election results unfold, we have the knowledge to help your business stay prepared, actively engaged, and influential. We have talent and expertise in Green Transition and ESG, Digital & Tech, Healthcare, Life Sciences & Wellbeing, Transport, Travel & Logistics, Trade and Competition.

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