European Elections – The New Dynamics

Strategic Communications

January 13, 2014

In this fourth edition of our series of snapshots looking into different aspects of the forthcoming European elections and other changes within the EU institutions, FTI Consulting Brussels examines how the changing political landscape and the influx of new MEPs will impact industry engagement with the European Parliament in particular.

A New Balance of Power

In the 2009-2014 European Parliament (EP), a majority of Christian Democrat and liberal parties has meant that MEPs have often supported jobs and growth and lent a sympathetic ear to business interests. When voting on business-critical elements of specific dossiers they have often acknowledged the concerns and arguments of industry and have prevented the introduction of legislation that might have had an adverse impact on European jobs and competitiveness. This has varied of course from Committee to Committee: for example, in the Environment Committee, the alliance was frequently on the defensive as members of even the business-friendly EPP and ALDE have sometimes robustly challenged business interests.

In a recent Policy Paper1, The Jacques Delors Institute, an EU think tank, analysed the voting patterns of all political groups in the EP to determine which were most often part of the winning majority in specific votes. The two groupings that won the majority of the votes were respectively a grand right-left coalition of the European Peoples Party (EPP) and the Socialists and Democrats (S&D), followed by a centre-right coalition of the EPP, the mildly eurosceptic European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR) and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE). What is interesting however is that the EPP, with 36% of the EP seats, was part of the winning majority 85% of the time. Whenever the political groupings on the right have aligned on a joint position they have usually managed to prevail over left-leaning alliances (of S&D, the Green party and the European united left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL)) without having to depend on the support of the extremely eurosceptic European Freedom and Democracy Group (EFD).

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