The EU saves the game, but not the season

The EU learned the art of consensus after the 2019 elections. The two-party system had not only hit rock bottom in most member states, but also in a community bloc accustomed to moving forward hand in hand with pacts between the major forces.zas, Popular and Social Democrats. Shortly afterwards, the 2024 elections have gone a step further. The consensus of the centrist forces – PP, S&D and Liberals – is no longer sufficient. The centre resists, but is dying. And it is forced to extend agreements with radical forces on both sides.

Back in 2018, the Italian laboratory led the way. The League and the 5 Star Movement formed a coalition government. It was the first time in the history of the EU that a Eurosceptic executive took the reins in a founding country. What happened next is history. The Europhobe’s Freedom Party Geert Wilders is in the coalition government with five ministries – including the migration ministry – in the land of tulips. Alternative for Germany (AfD), which entered the Bundestag for the first time in 2017, outperformed the Social Democrats of Olaf Scholz in the last European elections. The cordon sanitaire imposed by the left forces has stopped in extremis the first far-right government in the French Fifth Republic. Meanwhile, the ‘soft’ radical right of Georgia Meloni pilots the third largest economy in the Eurozone. And the indomitable Viktor Orban continues his provocations and his confrontations with the rest of the European partners with his handshakes with the Russian president Vladimir Putin and the Chinese Xi Jinping.

In this situation, negotiations at the European Council table are looking increasingly complex. The Franco-German axis, the driving force and pilot of the bloc, is out of the fight. Olaf Scholz’s traffic light coalition is staggering in Berlin and this weakness is taking away its power in Brussels. Emmanuel Macron has narrowly avoided the pirouette of calling early elections. Marine Le Pen will not govern. But an Executive of RN ministers under the flag of Jordan Bardella This would have seriously jeopardised the Council, which would have been close to a blocking majority by populist and Eurosceptic forces.

For many decisions, the Treaties establish the need to achieve a qualified majority in the Council – the decision-making body composed of the 27 heads of state and government – with the threshold of 55% of the member states with at least 65% of the European population. Meloni, Orban and Le Pen could have courted the Czech Peter Fialato Slovenian Robert Fico and the pro-Wilders government in The Hague. Once the scare in Paris has been overcome, this scenario does not come to fruition and the EU saves its face, but the decision-making process and progress are becoming more and more entrenched. One of the desires of recent years in Germany, France or Italy was, in fact, to put an end to consensus – imperative for decisions in the international arena or in fiscal policy – but it is very far away due to a poisonous paradox: to end unanimity, unanimity is needed.

In the midst of this game of thrones, the far-right forces are reconfiguring themselves in the European Parliament. During the outgoing legislature, they were divided between Meloni’s Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), which included Vox, and Identity and Democracy (ID), of Marine Le Pen and Matteo Salvini. Following the merger of National Rally (RN) and the League of Patriots for Europe, Orban’s family, the Identitarians have been dissolved. The new Patriots have a total of 80 MEPs. The most radical and closest group in the European Parliament to Russia is consolidating itself as the third family of the European Parliament.

The first effect of this change of cards is that it complicates the re-election of Ursula von der Leyen. The nominee of European leaders to repeat on the 13th floor of the Berlaymont wants to rely on the centrist coalition and seeks to scrape Meloni’s votes for her examination in the European Parliament, scheduled for next July 18. After the unexpected escape of Vox and the rise of Orban’s party, the leader of Brothers of Italy has been weakened. But even if the former Minister of Defense of Angela Merkel If the EU has the necessary 361 MEPs in the European Parliament, the legislative period is expected to be turbulent. With the most polarised chamber in its history, it will take sweat and tears to unite the support to approve legislation on green issues, migration, support for Ukraine or when it comes to paving the way for the integration of the community bloc.

The radical right-wing forces are in their best form since the Second World War and are not willing to let this opportunity pass them by. Most of them have abandoned the flag of ‘exit’ or of leaving the euro; their driving force is to change the Union from within, taking power away from what they see as the “elites and bureaucrats” in Brussels and returning “sovereignty” to the States. Orban’s trip to Moscow is a clear indication of the growing problems that the pro-European axis has in maintaining a cohesive discourse and direction within and outside its borders.

 
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