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New EU Parliament slightly more protectionist than the old one, but hardly more ecological

28.05.2019

The new EU Parliament tends to be slightly more protectionist towards free trade agreements than before. Despite a stronger green faction, no stronger ecological impulses than hitherto can be expected. Kiel Institute President Gabriel Felbermayr comes to this conclusion by evaluating the previous voting behavior of the fractions in the EU Parliament.

According to Gabriel Felbermayr, President of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, the previous Parliament of the European Union (EU) voted on average with 70 percent in favor of the free trade agreements with Canada (CETA), Japan, and Singapore. Assuming that the parliamentary fractions in the new parliament have the same voting behavior as in the old parliament, the new balance of power would have resulted in a slightly lower average approval rate of only  66 percent. If one assumes that the French president's movement, which joined the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), has an electoral behavior similar to that of the Social Democrats, which can be expected on the basis of the movement's election campaign, the approval rate in the new parliament drops to 65 percent.

"The new EU Parliament has thus become somewhat more protectionist, and the debates on free trade will certainly become harder," Felbermayr said. "The parliament, however, remains capable of making decisions and can continue to find majorities for free trade. The Brexit would make the parliament more free trade-friendly again, because the majority of parliamentarians who would resign are critical of globalization.

However, the new EU Parliament has hardly gained more ecological power. The gains of the Green/EFA group, above all due to the strong performance of the Greens in Germany, are offset by losses of the European Left, which also includes the Nordic Green-Left Alliance. Together, both factions in the EU Parliament will grow by only four seats from 104 to 108.
 
Assuming a constant voting behavior of the parliamentary groups, the example of the 2017 glyphosate vote, which resulted in an extension of the approval for the herbicide until 2022, shows that 32.4 percent of the representative in the new parliament would vote against the extension of the approval of glyphosate, whereas in the old parliament it was 31.6 percent. "A problem for the environmental parties is their division into two groups in the EU Parliament," Felbermayr said.

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