European elections ahead – The next shock?

A recap from the Berlin Summit "Winning back the people", May 2024.


13. JUNE 2024

As the European elections approach, several perspectives reveal potential challenges and shifts within the EU. At the Berlin Summit Jeromin Zettelmeyer (Bruegel) from Brussels notes that the discussion on the EU’s next budget is set to occur in a year and a half. This timeline presents two significant risks. Firstly, it is unclear whether Ursula von der Leyen will be re-elected as she requires support from right-wing factions. Secondly, Giorgia Meloni, the Italian Prime Minister, might leverage her position to extract concessions from von der Leyen, prioritizing debt management over environmental initiatives like the Green Deal.

From the Dutch perspective, Servaas Storm (TU Delft) highlights that the Dutch government took six months to form, and its stability remains uncertain. It is anticipated that the Dutch government will lobby in Brussels for exemptions, particularly from climate regulations. Despite the country’s strong economic performance, 25% of the Dutch population supports populist parties. This phenomenon can be attributed to a welfare state perceived as benefiting only those deemed deserving, austerity measures, and the urban-rural divide.

Antonella Stirati (University of Roma Tre) provides insights from Italy, where Meloni’s populist party has cut funds for the underfunded national health service. Stirati argues that the term “populists” is not particularly useful in economic discussions. Populist economic policies often involve measures with broad support but unrealistic and detrimental consequences. Austerity has shifted the working-class allegiance to the far-right. Stirati also suggests that if populism is defined by false promises, the EU itself could be considered populist.

In Germany, Sebastian Dullien (IMK) points out the increasing influence of populist parties characterized by anti-migrant and anti-social security policies. Meanwhile, Shahin Vallée from France predicts that Marine Le Pen is likely to win the next elections, indicating a significant shift in French politics.

In summary, the upcoming European elections are poised to bring significant changes and challenges. Various perspectives highlight the complex interplay of economic policies, populism, and political stability across the continent.



The euro was planned during a period in which economic policy making was driven by a deep belief in market liberalism and the near impossibility of systemic financial crises. This belief has been brought into question since the euro crisis, which showed that panics do happen. New thinking needs to focus on developing mechanisms to protect eurozone countries from such panics and to foster economic convergence between members.