Europe moving to the ‘centre-right’: EPP leader

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The European Union (EU) elections has set the bloc in a “centre-right” direction, the head of the largest party in the European Parliament said on Tuesday after meeting leaders and representatives of other political groups in Brussels.

Manfred Weber, the president of the European People’s Party (EPP) which gained 10 seats in the European election said his party was ready to negotiate with other parties to build a working majority.

“And the main direction for Europe is clear, it’s a centre-right Europe which people gave us, and that means that the European People’s Party is in an important role to be ready to negotiate with all the others in a democratic way but also define the key elements for the upcoming years, and that is competitiveness and security,” said Weber.

Centrist parties won a majority of seats in the four-day election, but a rightward shift may make it tougher to pass new legislation to respond to security challenges, climate change or industrial competition from China and the U.S.

Weber said he was happy about the success of the ruling Civic Coalition in Poland, an EPP member, which came first in the election there, and a new opposition party in Hungary that exceeded expectations against Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Fidesz (Hungarian Civic Alliance).

“I am quite happy that the new opposition party (Tisza) in Hungary, who shows the pro-democratic, pro-European and also the pro-rule of law face of Hungary, that this movement wants to join the European People’s Party, together with people like Donald Tusk in Poland, that shows the real DNA of the European People’s Party. I am very happy about this and we will continue exactly this path for the future of Europe and for the countries.”

French President Emmanuel Macron’s decision to call snap parliamentary elections following a massive loss for his Renaissance party to the far-right Rassemblement National (RN) in the EU poll was also on the minds of leaders.

The chair of the European Greens in the parliament, Terry Reintke, said it was a “risky move” that increased pressure on European lawmakers to build a stable pro-European majority.

But Belgian MEP Gerolf Annemans, who represented the far-right Identity and Democracy group, said Macron’s decision had been “splendid for us”.

“We welcome the conclusions of Macron, of course the election was clear, and it was an anti-Macron vote”, Annemans said.