Survey predicts pull to the right in European Parliament

Brussels (Belga) – According to a comprehensive voter intention survey by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), a pan-European think tank, the composition of the European Parliament will look completely different after the June elections. Across Europe, anti-European, populist right-wing parties are likely to do well, and moderate mainstream parties will probably lose popularity.

The survey predicts that in nine out of 27 EU countries, populist parties with an anti-European profile will emerge victorious in the elections. These include Belgium, where Vlaams Belang is likely to narrowly overtake the Flemish nationalist party N-VA. Both will probably get three seats in the European Parliament.

In France, Marine Le Pen‘s Rassemblement National might become the largest party with 25 seats. In Italy, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni‘s Fratelli d’Italia could climb to 27 seats (up from six today). The Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), while having to leave the leading position to the conservative CDU/CSU in Germany, will still become the country’s second largest party with 20 seats (it currently has 11).

As a result, researchers say, the far-right ID group and the conservative ECR group in the European Parliament would grow solidly. However, the existing ‘super coalition’ of the European People’s Party (EPP), social democrats (S&D) and liberals (Renew), which put Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in the saddle five years ago, would still account for 54 percent of seats, compared to 60 percent today.

This shift in power could have major implications for European policy, the survey results said. While the Green Deal enjoyed the support of a centre-left coalition in the last legislature, the move to the right may put pressure on the climate agenda. As pro-Russian parties may also make their entry into the European Parliament, the election results could also have implications for support to Ukraine in its war with Russia. The rule of law is also at risk of becoming less important to the European Parliament. (24 January)

Slovak parliamentary president supports new term for country’s European Commissioner

Brussels (TASR) – Slovak European Commissioner Maroš Šefčovič will have the support of the President of the National Council of the Slovak Republic for another term. Provided the Slovak government re-nominated Šefčovič and he accepted the nomination, Peter Pellegrini voiced his support on Wednesday in Brussels, after meetings with Šefčovič, European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen.

During a two-day visit to Brussels, Pellegrini said that a coalition council would meet later this week to discuss a number of European issues. Asked by TASR whether he would support the nomination of Šefčovič if the government decided to nominate him as European commissioner, he replied positively.

“I want to raise this at the coalition council, not yet as an official matter, but internally. Šefčovič has shown an extraordinary ability to hold such important posts. Today he is de facto the second most powerful member of the European Commission,” Pellegrini said.

He stressed that von der Leyen had spoken highly of Šefčovič during her negotiations with him. She is said to rely on him to the maximum extent and give him the most difficult things to deal with, Pellegrini told reporters. “Most importantly, however, she described Šefčovič as a person who not only solves problems but also delivers results. Šefčovič was a very good candidate for the Slovak government and I, as one of the coalition members, can personally imagine that if he decided to run for the post of commissioner again, he would certainly get my support,” Pellegrini said.

If the government of Prime Minister Robert Fico nominates Šefčovič, it will be his fourth full mandate in the European Commission. He has held the post of Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth for only three months, replacing Ján Figel. During José Manuel Barroso‘s second mandate, he was responsible for administration and inter-institutional relations. In the Jean-Claude Juncker-led European Commission, as vice-president, he was in charge of building the Energy Union. He retained his vice-presidency during Ursula von der Leyen’s mandate, where he was initially responsible for the strategic outlook and interinstitutional relations, but his work agenda grew over time.

Šefčovič is now responsible for the implementation of the European Green Deal, leading the post-Brexit negotiations with the United Kingdom and finalising negotiations on new association agreements with Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino and Switzerland. He is vice-chair of the EU Energy Platform, which ensures the joint purchase of natural gas, and his name is also associated with the European Battery Alliance. (24 January)

Launch of EU campaign to improve digital skills of the elderly in Serbia

Belgrade (Tanjug) – The Delegation of the European Union in Serbia has launched the campaign “Everything is easy when you know how”, which aims to raise awareness on the issue of improving the digital skills of senior citizens in Serbia, to help them master the basic knowledge that will facilitate their communication, use of digital services and other digital resources.

According to 2022 data from the Serbian Statistical Office, 32.4 percent of the population over the age of 65 had then used a computer in the previous 12 months, and 44.5 percent had used the internet in the previous year, compared to 69.71 percent in the EU. As noted by the EU delegation, in our age of rapid technological progress, older citizens often face numerous challenges in the process of adapting to new technologies, and therefore find it harder to fit into social trends. As a consequence of the digital divide, the older part of the population is deprived of fully utilising the benefits of digital services, but also the possibilities of communication and integration with family and friends.

That is why, with the campaign under the slogan “Everything is easy when you know how”, the EU Delegation in Serbia appeals to the public and the younger generations to help the elderly to overcome digital challenges, and at the same time invites older citizens to apply for free digital skills training in Belgrade, Niš, Novi Sad and several other cities in Serbia, which will be held from February to June 2024.

“In the EU, we follow the universal principle of leaving no one behind, and therefore we strive to work on the inclusion of all parts of communities that face any challenges. Elderly citizens are often excluded from their societies, unable to keep up with developing technology, and we must make sure that they do not fall behind,” said the head of the EU Delegation in Serbia Emanuele Giaufret. He added that “it is our duty as a society, but also of their children, grandchildren and fellow citizens, to return the knowledge and attention with which they raised us.”

The campaign “Everything is easy when you know how” will last until February 19. The campaign consists of two parallel activities – raising public awareness (including through TV spots and billboards) and the organisation of educational workshops intended for older citizens. (23 January)

This is a compilation of the European coverage of enr news agencies. It is published on Fridays. The content is an editorial selection based on news by the respective agency.