Speaking at a press seminar to kick off the EU election campaign on May 23 in Brussels, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani said that he expects Eurosceptics to win a majority of seats in the next European elections.
“It is likely that Eurosceptic sentiments will prevail in the next European elections. To counter this trend, we have to work hard during the upcoming year to pave the way for a pro-European parliament,” Tajani said.
At present, there is a growing distrust among European citizens towards EU institutions – a trend, which is not easy to overcome in the short term considering that the next elections are scheduled for exactly a year from now.
According to Tajani, however, the problem does not lie primarily in the Eurosceptic political parties as it is rather the fault of the Brussels-based “Eurocrat” policy-makers, who easily became lose touch with the realities on the ground. Tajani suggested that EU politicians should send a clear message to its citizens that the mistakes of the past are being taken into account and a new political strategy towards a common EU future will be developed.
“The problem does not lie within the rhetoric of Eurosceptic political parties. We have to understand why a lot of people vote for these parties. We have to change and work on specific goals, but not European rhetoric,” Tajani said.
Tajani cautioned that the alternative would see populist political parties seize power as early as May 2019 and “destroy the result we have already achieved”.
As head of the European legislative body, Tajani also stressed the importance of the Member States to engage in a political debate inside the European Parliament in order to send a ‘good message’ to EU citizens, but did not specify whether the right-wing political leaders of Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic – who won elections on a wave of Eurosceptic rhetoric – contribute to the strengthening of the EU’s image in the eyes of its citizens.
The next elections to the European Parliament will be held on May 23-26, 2019. According to the recent Eurobarometer survey published in May, the majority of respondents (60%) see membership in the EU as a benefit. The number of citizens who believe that their home states benefited from EU membership increased in Romania (59 %), Ireland (91%) and Lithuania (90%), while the lowest percentage of EU support can be seen in Austria (54%), the UK (53%), and Italy (44%).