European Elections 2019 Overview
Jun 28, 2019
Shane Conneely, Senior Policy & Research Executive at Chambers Ireland, outlines how the Parliament arithmetic of the European Elections will impact the make up of incoming Commission.
For the 2019 European elections Chambers Ireland was tasked by our member chambers with promoting election awareness and supporting them with voter-registration and “Get out the Vote” activities.
At the European level we worked with our Eurochambres peers to promote regional investment, a co-operative internationalist approach towards taxation, expanding trade, the digital single market, and a framework for the circular economy.
At home we worked with our network on the “Our Time to Vote” campaign, creating a European policy manifesto that was distributed countrywide. Parallel campaigns featured us in national and local papers, a social media campaign that reached tens of thousands of individuals, and hustings in two of the three EU constituencies.
The Irish MEP arithmetic
The European elections saw the Sinn Féin vote suffer a collapse. Both Lynn Boylan and Liadh Ní Riada received barely half their 2014 first preferences.
Regarding the European Parliament arithmetic Sinn Féin’s GUE/NGL seats move to the Independents4Change for no net difference, the Greens gain of two seats see the Greens/EFA pick up seats at the expense of Nessa Childers’s S&D seat, and Marian Harkin’s liberal Renew Europe (formerly ALDE) membership. Post-Brexit, Deirdre Clune will see the EPP gain their fifth seat, and Renew Europe a second through Fianna Fáil’s Barry Andrews.
European Coalitions and the Commission
At parliament, the grand coalition of centre-right EPP and the centre-left S&D is no more. The greens, liberals and nationalists ate into their majority. However, regardless of the Brexit outcome, to form a parliamentary majority both the EPP and the S&D will be necessary, with either Renew Europe or the Greens acting as kingmakers. The Greens may be more stable partners with the EPP and S&D and seem hungrier to put their imprint on the incoming European Commission
While the EPP will be the largest party, the success of their nominee for Commission President, Manfred Weber seems unlikely. Of the five major EU roles, only Frederica Mogherini, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, is a woman. According to the current European Council President Donald Tusk ‘at least two’ of the senior roles should go to women in the upcoming cycle.
For the liberal Margarethe Vestager, current Competition Commissioner, this boosts her hopes, but she is unlikely to receive the support of the Greens other than as a compromise candidate. The French President Macron meanwhile continues to champion Angela Merkel, despite her claims that she is uninterested in the role.
But EU negotiations are an art of compromise and consensus and the incoming officials will not be voted upon until November. We will be waiting until later in the year for clarity regarding the Liberal/Green influence on the European agenda in the coming years.