European citizens have voted and a new European Parliament has been elected. As the distribution of seats becomes clearer, neither a tectonic shift to the far right nor a majority to dismantle the European Green Deal appears to be emerging as a reality. 

Bigger far-right groups, but a limited influence

Far-right parties became stronger and more visibly aligned but they don’t have enough seats and convergences to be able to form a stable ruling coalition.

The European Conservative and Reformist (ECR) group got 73 seats, up from 69 MEPs, and the Identity and Democracy (ID) group got 58 seats, up from 49 MEPs. If they scored well in France, Germany and Italy, far-right parties went down in many other countries in Europe, such as Sweden, Finland, Poland and even Hungary, where Prime Minister Orban lost two seats. 

A “super far-right group” of ECR and ID is unlikely as those political parties are very divided and in competition to gain influence. Even if they succeed in aligning, this could even prevent access to decision power. Giorgia Meloni was deemed acceptable to the EPP, but others like Le Pen or the Polish Law & Justice delegation in the ECR were not. So the bigger the group, the less appealing and likely they are to become an ally to the EPP. 

Pro-European Union forces as pivot of the a future coalition

The centre-right EPP and current Commission President Ursula von der Leyen are the real winners of the elections. They are gaining 11 seats, putting them at the centre of a new coalition. However, 361 seats are needed to form a majority and elect the future President of the European Commission. This puts the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) and Renew as inevitable coalition partners for the EPP. 

The S&D is expected to play an important role, with delegations from Italy, Spain, Germany, Romania and France in the driving seat. They support more investment to drive forward a socially-just, austerity-proof, green and digital transition. Similarly, despite losing many seats, especially in France, Renew will be an important part of the future coalition. Together, the EPP, S&D and Renew can gather 403 seats, consolidating their previous majority. However, in the last two elections, about 13% of (93) MEPs didn't follow the group line, so the next Commission President may seek a comfortable majority of around 450 MEPs in order to be approved. 

To secure a stable coalition, a fourth partner might be brought on-board. Two options are possible: 

  • An alliance with Giorgia Meloni’s Fratelli d’Italia and VOX might be palatable for some within the EPP. It is very uncertain for other members of ECR, for example the Polish PiS, as key members of the EPP like Polish Prime Minister Tusk will reject the idea. S&D and Renew’s "cordon sanitaire" line would make such a coalition very unstable. As President Macron called for snap elections in France, it is very unlikely that Renew will accept an alliance with a far-right party in the meantime. 
  • Greens can bring 52 seats. They bring fewer MEPs in Germany and France but cover more countries and could represent an important pro-European force. 

On the Council side, Polish and Greek Prime Ministers Donald Tusk and Kyriakos Mitsotakis are responsible for negotiating top jobs on the behalf of the EPP, which could mean that a more moderate line could be found as a ground for a future coalition. 

What does it mean for the future Green Deal?

No matter the election results, the EU face major challenges that need to be addressed in the upcoming mandate: 

  • The high geopolitical and economic cost of being dependent on gas, oil and coal imports remains a major challenge for the competitiveness of the economy and energy bills. Energy prices are twice as high in the EU than in the United States. 
  • The EU risks losing out on the global net-zero industrial race led by China and challenged by the US. 
  • Not all Member States have the fiscal capacities to invest and attract the net-zero industry, which could lead to a two-speed Europe. 
  • The transition is not seen as affordable for households, especially in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis. 

An EPP/S&D/Renew/ECR coalition would be unstable in terms of priorities, given diverging views. Legislations are likely to be adopted on an ad hoc basis and, if the European Commission was to table review clauses of the Fit for 55 package, there could be attempts to weaken these laws. This would send a bad sign to business and investors about the predictability of policies. 

If the EPP wants a comfortable and reliable majority for industrial competitiveness and economic security, the Greens are the best choice.

An EPP/S&D/Renew/Greens coalition could first secure the Green Deal acquis, avoiding any rollback of adopted legislation, and maintain a decarbonisation agenda when it comes to energy security and industrial competitiveness. Convergences are possible around a strong industrial and energy security agenda: 

  • A European industrial strategy that delivers on decarbonisation goals can gather enough support. A reform of public procurements to support European net-zero industries as well as building European value chains appear to be a priority for most pro-European parties. 
  • Energy security also ranks high. The electrification and the deployment of the zero-emission power capacities are seen as the best levers to reduce gas, oil and coal imports.
  • A social dimension of the transition and how to make climate-friendly equipment more affordable will also be a key challenge for this term as far-right parties have won votes on the back of the cost of living crisis. With the second carbon market (ETS) on buildings and mobility due to be implemented in 2027, attention should focus on how to better distribute transition solutions. 

Many new initiatives under the next Commission will be about strengthening industrial competitiveness and energy security. They might not come with the "climate ambition" label but reduce emissions and deliver on the European Green Deal.

Next steps
  • 11 June: Roberta Metsola expected to convene EP political leaders on read-out and process.
  • 11/12 June (tbc): Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Poland likely to consult with Charles Michel ahead of G7.
  • 13-15 June: G7 brings Emmanuel Macron, Olaf Scholz, Giorgia Meloni, Charles Michel and Ursula von der Leyen together.
  • 17 June: informal EUCO where leaders discuss interpretation of election results, top jobs and elements of Strategic Agenda.
  • 27-28 June: top jobs EUCO.
  • 30 June: French parliamentary election - first round.
  • 7 July: French parliamentary election - second round.
  • week of 15 July: constituent meeting of EP and likely vote on new Commission President.