EU elections in June 2024: why it matters

Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib posed with a European flag in a mock polling station box to encourage people to vote in the upcoming European elections.

Laurie Diefembach | AFP | Getty Images

The political makeup of the European Union is set to change as voters in the 27 member states head to the polls from Thursday to Sunday.

With growing support for far-right parties, analysts expect the bloc’s policies to be more protectionist, with lower climate targets and more spending on defence.

CNBC takes a look at why this election is important for Europe and the rest of the world.

Relations with the US

EU lawmakers and officials widely cheered the EU election victory. US President Joe Biden in 2020 saw it as a new dawn in transatlantic relations. By that time, European officials had been facing significant challenges from the previous administration led by Donald Trump, which imposed trade tariffs, reneged on climate pledges, and stunned mainstream politicians with its aggressive style.

The future of transatlantic relations is still uncertain as US voters go to the polls in November and it remains to be seen whether Biden will remain in the White House or Trump will return.

But whatever happens, the EU has learned an important lesson: it will not be able to rely on the US for defence in the future. Trump has previously commented He said that if NATO members delay payments they will not protect NATO countries from Russian attacks. In addition, US lawmakers took several months to approve new financial aid for Ukraine, raising questions about their long-term commitment to the issue.

Thus, the next EU policymakers are expected to increase spending and work together on defense matters.

Relations with China

The European Commission, the executive branch of the EU, is expected to announce new tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles just days after the election.

The European Union is taking a tough stance on its relations with China.

On the one hand, Brussels recognises Beijing as a strategic rival, but at the same time it wants to maintain cooperation on climate matters and geopolitical issues.

Green Pledges

After the 2019 EU elections, the bloc claimed it was the global champion on the climate-friendly agenda. However, with climate-sceptic politicians taking over Brussels, the bloc is expected to scale back some of its previous ambitions.

“A right-wing tilt in the EU parliament would slow the process of environmental legislation, and possibly undermine existing agreements such as phasing out conventional cars by 2035,” Citi analysts wrote in a research note in late May.

“This could include more support for nuclear power or even support for fracking for cheaper and more reliable gas,” he said.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni during the final election campaign rally of the Brothers of Italy party ahead of the European elections, in Rome, Italy, Saturday, June 1, 2024.

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The future of Ukraine

There is no reason for Europe to lag behind global equities, says Quintet CIO.

Citi analysts also said that the prospect of Ukraine joining the EU could lead to a “major shift in net contributions”, potentially hurting countries that are currently net recipients from the EU budget.

“An even greater representation of Eurosceptics would be hostile to bold reforms, making expansion difficult,” analysts said.

‘It’s the economy’

Europe-wide A survey conducted in March revealed Citizens consider the economy, social justice and jobs to be the most important dimensions for Europe’s future.

This is particularly important at a time when the group is still recovering from the inflation crisis, which will dominate much of 2023.

Goldman Sachs said in a research note in May that the EU faces three structural issues: a deteriorating demographic outlook, weaker industrial investment compared to the United States, and low productivity growth.

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