The elections for the European Parliament will result in a significant increase of Eurosceptic/Anti-EU parties. The right-wing and strongly Eurosceptics will receive around 15 percent of total votes. The more moderately right-wing Eurosceptics will also win around 15 percent of total votes. And the left-wing Eurosceptics are set to get around 7 percent of total votes. Taking all Eurosceptic votes together they will win around 37.5 percent of total votes.

Given the fact that the Eurosceptics can be found from left to right, it is unlikely that they will manage to cooperate as one united front against further European integration. Rather they will form ad hoc alliances to forward their position on specific themes.

  1. The new European Parliament will be less supportive towards further integration and this will be felt across all policy areas. Although the Eurosceptics will not obtain a majority, the result will be an even slower process of European integration.
  2. In Italy, Hungary and Poland, Eurosceptic parties are projected to win more than 50 percent of the votes. In these countries the current government is already composed of Eurosceptic parties.
  3. The share of seats for Eurosceptic political groups will be around 22 percent.
  4. The European Parliament will see an increase in seats for parties that oppose (further) EU integration.
  5. Parties that are both close in ideology and in their stance towards EU integration are more likely to form an alliance after the European elections. Such alliances could take the form of a politic group, or informal (ad hoc ) cooperation to push a joint position on specific issues.
  6. The Eurosceptic vote is divided: A right-wing and strongly Eurosceptic front includes parties such as the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ), the German (AfD), the French National Rally (RN), the Italian Northern League (Liga) and the Dutch Party for Freedom. At the left of the spectrum a more moderately anti-EU assembly features the Italian Five Star Movement, the French Communist Party and the Dutch Socialist Party. Finally, a collection of right-wing and moderate anti-EU parties includes Hungarian Fidesz and JOBBIK as well the Polish Law and Justice party.
  7. Between these parties of different nationalities and political orientations, strong differences of view exist on several important issues. Russia, for instance, should be treated as friend according to Italy’s Liga and France’s Rally National, but kept at a cautious distance if Polish Law and Justice are concerned. The Greek X.A. party and Italian Five Star Movement would like to see more European support for their countries to deal with immigrant flows, whereas others such as Hungarian Fidesz are anti-immigrant and/or against open borders such as the Dutch Forum for Democracy.
  8. Given the differences in political orientation of the many anti-EU parties, it is not expected that one united ‘anti-EU group’ will arise in the European Parliament. More likely, most of these parties will join one of the existing Eurosceptic groups or some reconfiguration could take place after the elections- possibly resulting in one or more new groups (e.g. Alliance of Nations and People). But on specific themes they may be able to cooperate effectively in ad hoc alliances.
  9. Several anti-EU parties have explicitly called for their country to leave the EU. Most notably, the Brothers of Italy, the Alternative for Germany, the Dutch Freedom Party, and the Sweden Democrats are among the few parties that have promoted their country to leave the EU. But they won’t be able to achieve this via the European Parliament, as leaving the EU’ first and foremost requires action at the national level.
  10. Anti-European parties can use their stronger position in the European Parliament to weaken the EU from within, notably by resisting a large EU budget. Or they could hamper the adoption of legislation that has strong transnational impact. The support of the majority of the EP is needed to adopt a new budget. The rise of Eurosceptics in the Parliament will make the process even more difficult. Some Eurosceptic parties would like to shrink the budget and at the same time increase resources for the cohesion funds. The likely victims in the EU budget are development aid and spending related to foreign policy.
  11. Reforms of the EU’s fiscal policy might well be a field where their interests coincide, in particular, many anti-EU parties oppose the strict budgetary rules for Member States enforced by the European Commission. Among Eurosceptic parties, anti-austerity voices can be heard on both the right and on the left side of the political spectrum and especially in Italy, Greece, Portugal, and France. But also Poland’s ruling Freedom and Justice party has a preference for fiscal stimulus. The European Parliament has a role in the EU control of Member States’ budgets as a co-legislator in the setting of rules for so-called multilateral surveillance. Nevertheless, the European Parliament shares this responsibility with the Council of Ministers and depends on the European Commission for initiating new legislative proposals. So while anti-EU parties of the left and the right may jointly voice their opposition to budgetary restraint in the European Parliament, in the end their influence in this field may be felt most directly in the Council, where some of them have a direct say as representatives of their national governments.
  12. Several (but not all) Eurosceptic parties have raised their concerns about existing trade agreements and are significantly less supportive of more far-reaching trade agreements: Italy’s Five Star movement, the Freedom Party of Austria, Dutch Forum for Democracy and France’s National Rally are among them. This will make adopting such new agreements significantly more difficult. In this light, it will be interesting to see what position Eurosceptic parties will take with respect to relations between the EU and the UK post Brexit. With a blocking minority or control of certain parliamentary committees, Eurosceptics might also be able to stand in the way of international trade deals.
  13. The far-right Eurosceptic parties have been quite clear in their opinion regarding migration. They want to close the borders and have a very strict migration policy. This position is mostly absent in the left-wing Eurosceptic parties, so a strong united front is not very likely. Even more important to note is that the European Parliament hardly has any legislative power in migration policy. Migration policy is not part of the co-decision procedure and the EP is only consulted. Nevertheless, emboldened right-wing Eurosceptics will use all their informal powers to influence migration policy.
  14. The rise of right-wing Eurosceptics will prove to be  a challenge for the European climate change agenda. These parties are often hostile towards policy designed to address climate change. In Hungary and Poland  where these parties have won significant power, they have tried to scale back climate policies. The left-wing Eurosceptic parties are often much more supportive towards climate policy. Overall the stance of the European Parliament will become more critical towards policy that address climate change.
  15. The next President of the European Commission will be elected by the European Parliament by a majority vote. MEPs will vote on a candidate proposed by the European Council which should take into account the results of the election. Next, the other 27 Commissioners will be  nominated, one from each Member State. The European Parliament must approve these nominations. Governments with an Eurosceptic majority, for example, Italy, Hungary and Poland are likely to deliver an Eurosceptic Commissioner giving them significant influence on some policy areas. Provided they will get the approval of the majority in the European Parliament, they will make the overall stance of the European Commission less supportive towards further EU integration.
  16. Even with a parliamentary minority, a Eurosceptic party grouping could block sanctions against Member States that violate EU rules and the rule of law. The EU is currently pursuing such measures against both the Law and Justice (PiS) party’s government in Poland and Orbán’s government in Hungary.
  17. The new EP is likely to tone down its support for Kiev: both right-and left Eurosceptic parties have repeatedly expressed misgivings for Ukraine. The former are hostile to the idea of EU making any new financial commitments in Eastern Europe, while the latter tend to see Ukraine’s post-Maidan revolution leaders as radical nationalists. Combined with growing Ukraine fatigue in the West, this may create an opening for Russia to try to restore some form of dialogue with the European Parliament. Eurosceptic parties will also seek to water down sanctions against Russia but such decision will be made in the Council. Will Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte with the support of Matteo Salvini go for a veto against any extension of sanctions? Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has already stated that he would not be afraid to use its veto powers in the EU as a last resort to push the bloc into lifting sanctions against Russia.


The risk, then, is not so much that populists will capture a parliamentary majority and overturn everything on day one, but that they will have some representation in the European Commission and secure a large enough minority to bring EU policymaking to a crawl. That, in turn, will prevent the enforcement of EU rules, strengthen nationalist governments, and further undermine European voters’ confidence in EU governing institutions. .

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