European elections: How the EU election works – and what happens afterward

European elections: How the EU election works – and what happens afterward

Next Sunday evening we will find out how the EU Parliament will be composed in the next few years. But why are the EU elections so important? Questions and answers.

The outcome of the European elections will determine legislation on the continent for the next five years. Between 6 and 9 June, citizens from all 27 EU countries will elect the members who will represent them in the European Parliament.

Who is allowed to vote?

Around 360 million people in all EU member states can decide which politicians will represent them over the next five years. In Germany, around 65 million eligible voters can cast their vote for a party or political association at the polling station on Sunday (9 June). This was also possible by postal vote. Unlike in federal elections, there are no individual constituencies in European elections.

In order to be allowed to vote in this country, you have to be at least 16 years old. Unlike in Germany, voting is compulsory in Belgium, Bulgaria, Luxembourg, Greece and Cyprus. This also applies to Germans who are allowed to vote in one of these countries.

Who is running for election?

Eligible voters in Germany can only vote for one of the 35 national parties and political associations. Of these, 33 are running in all federal states. The CSU is only running in Bavaria, while its sister party, the CDU, is running in the other 15 states. The parties usually also have top candidates; for the CDU, this is the current EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and for the SPD, the former Federal Minister Katarina Barley.

Even small German parties have a chance of entering the EU Parliament, because they do not have to reach a predetermined percentage threshold in this election. The electoral procedures vary from country to country, but in principle the following applies: the more votes a party receives, the more seats it will ultimately have in parliament.

What are the other EU institutions?

The EU Parliament is one of the central legislators in Europe. There is also the Council of EU states. The states meet almost constantly at the level of their ambassadors, regularly at the level of the specialist ministers (Council of Ministers) and approximately every three months at the EU summits of heads of state and government. A different EU member takes over the Council Presidency every six months: Belgium will be followed by Hungary in the second half of 2024.

The EU Commission, in turn, is a kind of cabinet with one representative from each member state. Germany is represented there in the current legislative period by Commission President von der Leyen. The Commission proposes laws and monitors their compliance in the member states.

Who sits in the European Parliament?

The European Parliament, which meets in Brussels, Belgium, and Strasbourg, France, brings together elected representatives from all EU countries. They are meant to represent the interests of more than 450 million people in Europe. After this election, 720 representatives will be allowed to sit in the European Parliament – 15 more than before.

Germany, the most populous EU country, has the largest bloc with 96 representatives, while Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta have the fewest, each with 6. In relation to the population, Germans are underrepresented because each representative represents more people than their colleagues from a smaller country. In parliament, the votes of representatives have the same weight – regardless of how many residents of their country they represent.

How do politicians organize themselves?

Most MEPs are divided into political groups with like-minded people – there are currently seven. A group must have at least 23 parliamentarians from at least seven EU countries. Groups have various advantages: they have a say in setting the agenda, their members have more speaking time in debates and also more financial resources. However, parliamentarians can also remain independent.

There are committees and subcommittees for the concrete parliamentary work. Specialist politicians from the various parliamentary groups come together there and negotiate on the respective topics such as foreign affairs, budget, economy and currency, transport or education.

Why is the EU Parliament important for Germany?

Since the EU states are also significantly involved in legislation at the EU level, the influence of the MPs on new laws is somewhat limited but nevertheless significant. They have to agree to numerous new rules and can also prevent them. Laws and rules that are passed in Europe have a direct impact on people and companies in Germany, as they have to be implemented into national law.

Parliament also has a decisive say in the distribution of funds, such as the billions in EU agricultural subsidies.

What happens after the election?

The newly elected MPs will usually form political groups, which will then be finalised at the first plenary session on 16 July, the day on which the new legislative period begins. After the inaugural session, the committees will hold their first meetings to elect their respective chairmen.

After the EU elections, there will also be a new Commission. And the EU Parliament will have a certain say in this. First, the EU heads of state and government will begin negotiations on who should lead the EU Commission in the future. They officially have the right to propose candidates for this post, and the Parliament must then approve it by a majority.

Parliament will then also take a close look at the proposals for Commission members. The process will last until autumn, when MEPs will have to decide whether they agree to the composition of the Commission as a whole.

Source: Stern

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