EU election upheaval ahead: a mixed view

EU election upheaval ahead: a mixed view

EU election upheaval ahead: a mixed view 150 150 Batteries International

June 7, 2024: The annual EUROBAT general assembly this year held on June 4 and 5 was over-shadowed by the European Parliamentary elections set to be held between June 6 and 9.

“The outcome of these elections is vital for the future of the battery industry and the direction of the Green Deal in the years ahead,” said Marc Zoellner, president of EUROBAT in his opening address.

He said this year’s forum would concentrate on the need for innovation, ensuring a global level playing field for all battery chemistries in the future and the principles of circularity would be upheld.

“These are the three pillars of EUROBAT’s focus which would ensure that the association can support the Green Deal and the incoming European Parliament’s focus, as reflected in the European Commission’s legislation in the years ahead,” he said.

The consensus, as per the so-called “Cluster” presentations in the general assembly on the Monday afternoon, was that talk of a widespread lurch to the far right had been exaggerated.

“The latest polls show that the future composition of the new European Parliament will be more moderate than expected,” said one speaker. “In effect this will mean that we won’t see a far-right wing EP and existing legislation in place already will continue. The future will be more business-like than before and its approach will be less concerned with green or environmental issues.”|

However, a more extreme picture was set out the next day by Fabian Zuleeg, chief executive of the European Policy Centre and a well-known and authoritative figure on economic and political affairs across Europe.

Zuleeg started by saying that the opinion polls were misleading at the moment. “There is a widespread sense of political fatigue among voters,” he said. “That means the more moderate voters will stay at home.

“But the more committed on the political right will tend to be out in force. As we have seen across Europe in the past few years, they are hungry for change.”

This new, more right-wing, mix of MEP politicians are markedly less concerned about environmental issues and are more interested in dealing with national issues such as migration and workers.

“In practice this won’t mean that the Green Deal will be unwound — what has been passed into legislation will remain so — but in effect any progress will be stalled,” he said. “The Green Deal will start to slow down especially as the European Commission will have less power, or ability, in enforcing existing legislation.

“It will be much easier for the right to sabotage new legislation than before.”

Overall, Zuleeg saw that right-wing populism will continue to be the dominant theme in the coming years. “This will be a difficult time for French president Macron in his second term facing Marine La Pen and likewise the right wing AfD in Germany are still on the rise.

“Effectively the central axis of the EU, the Franco-German relationship, is under yet further strain.”

Zuleeg said he saw that these trends were going to become more established and were not for the present political cycle: “Just because less legislation is going to get through doesn’t mean that there will be less bureaucracy.”

His opinions were re-inforced by the conference’s proximity to the noisy demonstrations against the European Commission being held a couple of hundred metres away from the EUROBAT forum.

Farmers across Belgium and parts of France protested across Brussels with hundreds of tractors carrying banners calling on European leaders to “stop killing farmers,” and warning that the EU’s climate neutrality plans mean the end of agriculture.

In part they might have some justification — the European Commission plans to make 25% of all agriculture organic by 2030.