Interactive Advertising Bureau
28 May 2024

IAB Europe's Update on the European Union Elections

From 6-9 June, EU citizens will be voting for their 720 representatives in the Parliament. To help navigate the upcoming changes and challenges, we have provided a brief overview and analysis of important aspects surrounding this year’s elections below.

Political Landscape:

According to the current political climate, the next European Parliament is expected to witness a significant increase in its centre-right and right-wing seats. Currently, the biggest parties in the European Parliament are the European People’s Party (EPP; centre-right, currently 179 seats) and the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D; centre-left, currently 141 seats). The third biggest party is Renew (currently 101 seats), which has a complex membership of mostly centre parties, including centre-left, centre-right and liberal factions. The Greens (centre-left, left-wing) slightly outweigh the European Conservatives and Reformists Party (ECR; right-wing). However, recent polls indicate that the rise of right-wing parties and sentiments in Europe may change this dynamic.

Although the EPP and S&D will likely remain the largest parties in the Parliament, the ECR (predicted 1  to obtain 72 seats ) and ID (Identity and Democracy, predicted to secure 66 seats) are likely to experience an increase in votes, while the Greens are expected to see a decline in support (predicted to secure 41 seats). This shift could influence future coalition-building, voting behaviour, and the Parliament’s own initiatives.

Despite many parties, including the Socialists, Greens, Renew, and Left parliamentary groups, signing a declaration calling upon all democratic parties to reject coalition-building or any alliances with the far-right , the EPP has refused to sign the declaration. Multiple national parties have signed agreements with far-right parties in their countries, such as the Renew equivalent (VVD) in the Netherlands. This is an important factor since the EPP will remain the largest party in the Parliament and could cooperate with the right-wing (ECR) and the far-right (ID) to secure a majority on new or ongoing legislation. This cooperation could support more "business-friendly" policies. 

Key Issues

Several key issues and pieces of legislation will shape the next mandate and be important to the digital advertising industry. For instance, the upcoming review of the GDPR will be a significant part of the next mandate. Although there is a general reluctance among policymakers to reopen the GDPR debate, there could be important changes or additions that impact the industry. IAB Europe submitted in January 2024 its feedback to the public consultation on the GDPR to represent members’ experiences, successes, and grievances with the law's application.

Another important aspect of the next mandate will be the implementation and enforcement of newly introduced legislation, namely the DSA, DMA, and the AI Act. Policymakers and the digital advertising industry alike are calling for the next Commission to invest time and resources into the efficient and harmonised enforcement and implementation of these regulations.

Additionally, the upcoming report on the Digital Fairness Fitness Check, an initiative launched in 2022 by the Commission to evaluate existing consumer legislation, will provide insights into whether these laws ensure an adequate level of consumer protection in the digital environment. This report will address issues such as dark patterns, personalization practices, and influencer marketing. Expected to be published in June, the report will also include main outcomes from the cookie pledge initiative.

Furthermore, rumours indicate that the Commission is likely to revisit the ePrivacy regulation in the next mandate. The pending proposal, which has been on hold for years already, will most likely be withdrawn and might come back in a different shape with a new proposal or multiple new proposals tackling different provisions within the ePrivacy directive. 

Candidate Profiles

The ‘Spitzenkandidaten’ procedure requires all political parties to nominate a candidate for the position of the Commission President. The following candidates have been nominated for the position: 

  • Ursula von der Leyen (European People’s Party)
  • Nicholas Schmit (Party of European Socialists)
  • Sandro Gozi (Renew Europe Now)
  • Terry Reintke (European Green Party)
  • Walter Baier (Party of the European Left)

Many expect Ursula von der Leyen to remain in her post due to the predicted prominence of the EPP in the European Parliament. However, this remains to be seen, as the Commission President has to be approved by the Parliament by an absolute majority. Ms von der Leyen remaining in power could mean that the next Commission increases focus on the implementation and enforcement of the legislation introduced during the previous term. Other important personalities and posts to mention include Didier Reynders, the former European Commissioner for Justice, who has taken unpaid leave from his position to be a candidate for the position of Secretary General at the Council of Europe. 

Timeline after elections: 

As the elections are drawing near, here are some important key dates following the elections that will shape the EU’s next mandate’s trajectory. 

  • 10 June onwards (no definitive deadline): formation of the political groups 
  • 27-28 June: European Council meeting, where an agreement on the candidates for high-level posts such as the Commission President will be reached
  • 18-19 July: First plenary of the new Parliament 
  • September: Election of the Commission President
  • December: The new European Council President takes office

 1 Polls conducted by Politico & Euractiv.

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