The coverage of the European Parliament elections often places the results into a domestic political context. This is particularly true of this election; taking place as it did one year before a General Election, CiceroElections has analysed in other areas of this hub the implications of these results for the domestic political landscape.
Yet this analysis understates the significance of the European Parliament and the importance of the UK’s representation within it. A sizeable portion of legislation impacting the UK originates from Brussels. As a co-legislator, the European Parliament has considerable influence over its development. Therefore, Cicero Group has undertaken a full analysis of the new UK delegation in the European Parliament to fully illustrate what the future may hold for the UK’s MEPs in Brussels.
Though seldom reported at home, many UK MEPs have been hyperactive over the past five years in shaping this legislation, often to ensure that it better represents the views of UK stakeholders or the specificities of UK markets. The Parliament has assumed greater power since the Lisbon Treaty and is expected to continue to do so.
While discussions will now begin to determine the final shape and size of each political group, it is possible to draw some early conclusions about the impact of the results on the influence of each party in the EU:
For UKIP, the big question is whether their Europe of Freedom and Democracy Group will be able to secure enough parties to remain as a group. With many of their allies considering joining Marine Le Pen’s Alliance for European Freedom Group, UKIP may be forced to partner with increasingly obscure and extreme groups. Such allegiances could prove toxic in the forthcoming domestic General Election.
Labour, meanwhile, is set to increase its influence in the next Parliament with its seven additional seats. As the third largest party in the S&D group, they will be able to appoint a number of their MEPs to senior roles within the group and onto Parliamentary committees. One concern, however, will be their poor relationship with the S&D lead candidate Martin Schulz. Labour withheld their support for his candidacy, and Schulz’s SDP party, a major force within the S&D, may resent the lack of support from Labour.
The Conservatives face a great deal of uncertainty over their future standing in the European Parliament. Up to now, the Tories have been had a position of moderate influence from within the ECR group and have been particularly influential on core issues such as financial services. However, after losing seven MEPs, the Tories are no longer set to be such a dominant force. Furthermore, the future of the ECR group itself is in question due to complicated relationships between some of the member parties.
Surging into fourth place, the Green Party has benefitted from the collapse in the Liberal Democrat vote, increasing their number of seats in the next Parliament to three. It’s probable that its slightly larger delegation could help them secure more prominent positions within the European grouping.
Lastly, the Liberal Democrats only just avoided total annihilation as some polls had predicted and are left with just one MEP in the Parliament. The party has lost senior and well-regarded MEPs such as Andrew Duff, the former leader of the group in Europe. This loss of experience coupled with fewer seats will drastically reduce the Liberal Democrat presence in the next Parliament.
For a full briefing on the make-up of the UK delegation in the European Parliament, please see Cicero Group’s complete analysis.