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EU Elections and Their Global Implications

From June 6-9, voters across the twenty-seven member states of the European Union (EU) will head to the polls to elect their representatives to the European Parliament. This election is significant not only for Europe but also for the global political landscape. Nearly 373 million eligible voters will choose 720 lawmakers, whose decisions will shape EU policies and influence international affairs over the next five years.


The European Parliament, one of the EU's three main institutions, plays a crucial role in shaping legislation and policies. Each EU member state elects a number of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) proportional to its population size. Germany and France, with ninety-six and eighty-one MEPs respectively, have the highest representation, while Cyprus, Luxembourg, and Malta each have six.


EU elections have historically struggled with low voter turnout, reflecting a perception among many Europeans that these elections are less important than national ones. In 2014, turnout hit a low of 42.6 percent, but it rose to 50.7 percent in 2019. If this trend continues and turnout exceeds 50 percent in 2024, it could signal growing awareness among EU citizens of the parliament's impact on their lives and bolster the EU's democratic legitimacy.


One of the first tasks for the newly elected parliament will be to confirm the European Commission's 27 members, including its president. The new parliament will also influence the selection of the next EU Council president and the high representative for foreign affairs and security policy. These appointments will shape the EU's executive leadership and policy direction.


The new parliament will face numerous challenges, including the ongoing war in Ukraine, energy transition, and illegal migration. A rightward shift could result in changes to EU policies on climate and agriculture, stricter immigration controls, and increased skepticism toward free trade agreements. The parliament's stance on supporting Ukraine against Russian aggression will be a critical issue.


The outcome of the EU elections will have significant global repercussions. If Von der Leyen and US President Joe Biden are both re-elected, their continued collaboration could strengthen transatlantic relations on issues like climate change, industrial policy, and security within NATO. Conversely, changes in leadership could lead to divergences on energy, trade, and geopolitical strategies.


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