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Populists set to win enough seats to ‘paralyse’ EU
February 12, 2019
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LONDON: Anti-EU parties could do well enough in the coming European Parliament elections to “paralyse” the bloc in a range of policy areas and bring about a “a qualitative change” in the union, a stark new report seen by The Independent has warned.

The European Council on Foreign Relations, a pro-EU think-tank, projects that nationalist, eurosceptic, and far-right parties could win around a third of seats in elections scheduled for this May.

The result would give the populists significant influence in the union’s working and the ability to block some legislation because of the way some EU functions are governed, the study, set to be released on Tuesday, says.

The parties will be able to appoint the chairs of a third of European Parliament committees and block the body from triggering so-called “Article 7” procedures against rogue member states that flout the rule of law – as it did with Viktor Orban’s Hungary last year.

Even more significantly, unless all the other political groups consistently vote together, populists might also be able to block the election of the next European Commission president to replace Jean-Claude Juncker, shape EU law, and influence the union’s budget.

The eurosceptics’ votes could also help derail already controversial international agreements – such as a possible free trade deal with a post-Brexit UK.

“Simply put, winning a certain number of seats will give anti-European forces influence over key processes and decisions,” the report says.

“Judging by what many of them have campaigned for, anti-European parties could use this increased share of seats to obstruct the EP’s work on foreign policy, eurozone reform, and freedom of movement, and could limit the EU’s capacity to preserve European values relating to liberty of expression, the rule of law, and civil rights.

“Winning more than 33 per cent of seats would enable them to form a minority that could block some of the EU’s procedures and make the adoption of new legislation much more cumbersome – with a potentially damaging impact on the content of the EU’s foreign policy, as well as on the EU’s overall institutional readiness and its political credibility to take initiatives in the area.”

The report looks at polls from across the continent and finds that under current projections the far-right is set to make advances – mirroring or exceeding those it has made at a national level since the last elections in 2014.

The Independent

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