EU elections: a swing to the extreme right in Europe unlikely to affect environmental policies

Green Party candidate Ska Keller. Photo credit: European Union 2014 – European Parliament.

 By Anders Lorenzen

Despite weeks of scaremongering by mainstream media, a swing to the right led by anti EU parties are unlikely to have an impact on environmental policies within the EU. It had been predicted that the green group within European Parliament would be pushed down to sixth place, those fears are being rebuffed as they will retain the place as the fourth largest group, and albeit in a strong position with 55 Members of the European Parliament (MEP), down with two MEP’s.

They have though seen setbacks in several European countries such as France, as far right Front National won the French election. The Greens saw minor setbacks in some European countries as anti austerity and immigration dominated, but were a success story in Sweden, where they picked up 17 MEP’s. The European United Left / The Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) group who also would be likely to vote in favour of environmental policies have seen significant growth going from 34 MEP’s to 45 MEP’s. The main core of the European Parliament is unlikely to change a lot as there will still be an overall majority of MEP’s supporting EU policies.

The European Conservatives and Conformists (ECR) & Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD) are the two groups likely to lead opposition to EU policies and thereby also oppose environmental policies orchestrated by the European Parliament. Before last nights elections, those two groups represented 57 & 31 MEP’s respectively. After last night, that number has changed to 33 & 39, so not an increase but a decrease of MEP’s. Though due to an influx of new parties 67 MEP’s are currently classified in the group Others who have not affiliated themselves with any of the eight European Parliament groups, the puzzle of regrouping could now take place and it’s also possibility that a new group could be formed. Not every party opposing the EU are naturally right wing. One example is the Danish party The Peoples Group Against the EU who are opposing the EU on the grounds they believe the EU’s environmental policies are too weak and they want them strengthened.

The main core of the European Parliament remains the centre right and centre left groups: Group of the European People’s Party (EPP) and Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament (S&D) on respectively 212 & 185 MEP’s. Though they have seen a significant reduction down from 273 & 196 before the election they do still hold the majority in the European Parliament.

Of course speculation will be rife in what the environmental agenda on the new European Parliament would look like and a lot will depend on who will be elected as the new EU President. But facts are that the core of the EU who have enacted and approved policies for the last five years are still in majority and little have changed, if anything there is reason to believe that it’s more left leaning and thereby more likely to enact and vote in favour of strong environmental policies.

Note: the numbers quoted are still based on estimates and are subsequent to change.

Sub edited by Charlotte Paton 

Related news:

EU Commission urges renewables uptake for economic boost

Copenhagen: European Green Capital 2014


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