Newly elected Members of Parliament (MEPs) take their seats today to start a five year term that will determine how Europe will proceed in this time of continuing economic uncertainty. While we wish them luck on their first day, we have to ask: Where do we go from here? We were interested to see such a large portion of the public turn out to support the parties who’ve traditionally had difficulty gaining popular support for their Eurosceptic platform. In the wake of the current economic and political crisis, we look forward to seeing how much the main political groups represented in this Parliament will work together to ensure the future of health and growth in Europe.
Now that the results take effect, why are we interested? We believe the results will affect dynamics in the European Parliament in terms of coalition building. With the current seat breakdown, majority alliances will become a lot harder to form. The announcement last week of a broad coalition between the two largest political groupings, EPP and S&D, also joined by ALDE, shows a recognition of the call from the electorate for jobs and growth. Therefore, how this ‘grand coalition’ will function in practice becomes a key question. Now that the European Council has proposed Jean-Claude Juncker as the next Commission President, the European Parliament will vote on July 16 to accept the proposal. We will wait and see.
Our main concern however centres on how the new Parliament will have an impact on health policy over the coming years. When it comes to health and growth, what are the questions to ask going forward?
- The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will be a key driver for jobs and growth in Europe. A successful TTIP could make the EU and the US the centre of innovation in medicines globally for the next generation. Will the incoming Commission and the Parliament seize this opportunity?
- National healthcare budgets are still being squeezed as member state governments attempt to cut budget deficits. Will the EU’s focus on austerity measures continue with new political leadership in the European Commission, or will it have a new approach towards investment in health to support jobs, growth and innovation?
- Will the new European Parliament political groupings come together in sufficient numbers to support critical opportunities such as a Life Sciences Strategy in Europe or TTIP?
- Will the economies of Europe work to boost competitiveness and emerge stronger from the recession or will they continue to lose out to emerging markets?
These are important questions to ask in the wake of the election results. Want to stay involved? Follow us at @LillyPadEU and check back here for future updates concerning the answers to these questions.