Marjorie Chorlins Marjorie Chorlins
Senior Vice President, Europe, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


June 07, 2024


Citizens of 27 European member states are going to the polls this weekend to elect the new European Parliament. The outcome of these elections to fill 720 seats will shape the EU’s policy direction for years to come, with major implications for business and workers on topics including competitiveness, trade policy, and regulatory frameworks.

Here are insights on the pending elections, analyzing potential impacts on the business environment of a projected rightward shift in the European Parliament.

Political Landscape and Projections

The European Parliament’s composition is a mosaic of political ideologies, each vying for influence over the EU’s future. Member state political parties coalesce to form seven main groups:

  • European People’s Party (EPP): The center-right bastion of pro-European integration. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is affiliated with the EPP.
  • Socialists and Democrats (S&D): The center-left party emphasizes social justice and workers’ rights.
  • Renew Europe (RE): The centrist group advocating for a strong, autonomous Europe.
  • Greens/European Free Alliance (Greens/EFA): Champions of aggressive responses to climate change and greater corporate obligations related to sustainability.
  • European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR): The Euroskeptic parties who are sure to gain seats during this election.
  • Identity and Democracy (ID): The nationalist faction is even more aggressively challenging the EU status quo and is equally likely to see their numbers increase in this election.
  • The Left: The progressive alliance pushing for social and economic reforms.

The EPP and S&D political groups will retain their prime positions, but the real story is the likely surge for the ECR and ID, coming mainly (though not exclusively) at the expense of Renew and the Greens.

Greater fragmentation may mean longer times to reach necessary compromises in the new European Parliament and the EPP might need to form opportunistic alliances with right-wing parties to achieve certain legislative measures. However, S&D and Renew are expected to resist this shift.

Key Industry Priorities and Election Outcomes

  1. Trade: Lawmakers are increasingly worried about Europe’s competitiveness, and we could see an increase in protectionist policies, which would hinder market access and affect integrated supply chains.
  2. Regulation: American businesses—and a growing number of European ones—have warned that excessive EU regulation is undermining Europe’s competitiveness. Lawmakers are beginning to heed these concerns, and we could see a downshift in regulations at the EU level. This could ease the burden on business and lead to a fragmented single market as member states aim to “gold plate” (i.e., toughen) measures already on the books.
  3. Digital Economy: The last legislative term was characterized by a series of digital measures that were, in many instances, burdensome and discriminatory. Despite overwhelming industry skepticism and often opposition, there is reason to think many EU lawmakers will continue on a path that they believe will create space for European champions to emerge but instead will hamper innovation and leave the EU in a weaker position in the global arena.
  4. Climate Policy: Environmental regulations will be a battleground, with businesses seeking clarity and stability in green policies. Most of the Green Deal legislation has been concluded; any amendments to adopted texts will require a new legislative process. As with some of the digital policies, the EU has adopted measures here that are cumbersome and unlikely to achieve their desired outcomes. If Parliament does shift to the right, we could see a modest softening as policymakers review progress on legislation adopted thus far.

Important Dates to Watch

  • June 9: Confirmation of election results.
  • June 10 – July 11: Meetings of the political “families” will set the tone for inter-party negotiations and policy priorities.
  • June 27-28: The European Council will confirm the roles of the presidents of the Council, Commission, and Parliament.
  • July 1: Hungary assumes the 6-month rotating presidency of the Council, which could bring a Euroskeptic perspective to the fore.
  • July 15-19: The new European Parliament’s first plenary session should see confirmation of the Commission president.
  • July 22-25: The first committee meetings will offer insights into the legislative agenda, affecting regulatory expectations.
  • September/October: Confirmation hearings for Commissioner candidates, potentially signaling policy direction.
  • November/December: The new Commission’s inauguration will cement the EU’s policy trajectory, with businesses needing to adapt swiftly.

What's Next

The 2024 European Parliament elections are a barometer for the future of business in Europe. The outcomes of these elections will dictate the regulatory environment, trade relationships, and investment climate for years to come.

As the EU navigates through economic recovery and global challenges, the business community must remain vigilant, proactive, and adaptable. Through advocacy, access, and analysis, the Chamber’s Europe Program will continue to amplify the voice of U.S. business as Europe crafts policies that affect millions of companies and their employees.

About the authors

Marjorie Chorlins

Marjorie Chorlins

Marjorie A. Chorlins is senior vice president for European Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Executive Director of the U.S.-UK Business Council.

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