Digital, sustainability, and health. The Brussels’ weekly agenda in a nutshell

The coming week brings with it several new changes for the European Union.

First, it marks the start of the Hungarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, which will run until 31 December 2024. Hungary takes over the presidency at a sensitive time for the institutions, with the start of the 2024-2029 new cycle and discussions on future directions to be taken at the European level. It will also be the last presidency of the ‘trio’ consisting of the Council presidencies of Spain, Belgium and Hungary. One of the first tasks of the new Hungarian Presidency will be to chair the Political and Security Committee, which will take place in Brussels on Tuesday 2 and Thursday 4 July. 

In Brussels, with the arrival of the new MEPs in office and the preparations for the plenary session in Strasbourg on 16 July, the last few days have seen the election of the various leading figures in the parliamentary groups. The list includes:

1.Manfred Weber, re-elected Chairman of the European People’s Party (EPP). With 190 seats, the EPP remains the leading force in the European Parliament;

2.Iratxe García Pérez, re-elected President of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D). S&D, although the outcome of the elections led to the loss of some seats, remains in second place as the largest group in the EP;

3.Terry Reintke and Bas Eickhout, elected as Presidents of the Greens/EFA (the Greens’ system provides for a co-chairmanship based on gender balance);

4.Valérie Hayer, re-elected President of Renew Europe;

5.Gabriele Zimmer, re-elected President of the Left Group in the European Parliament-GEU/NGL.

On the other hand, the various key figures of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group, which became the third largest group in the European Parliament with the 9 June elections, overtaking Renew and the Identity and Democracy (ID) group, have not yet been announced.

Furthermore, at the European Council on 27 June, European leaders came to an agreement regarding the so-called top posts of the European Union:

1.Ursula von der Leyen (EPP) was proposed as a candidate for the presidency of the European Commission. The next step is the approval by the European Parliament for a possible second term;

2.Antonio Costa, socialist candidate and former Prime Minister of Portugal, was elected President of the European Council. He will therefore succeed Charles Michel from December 2024;

3.Kaja Kallas, Prime Minister of Estonia from 2021 and former MEP belonging to the ALDE group, has been chosen as the candidate for the position of High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security. As in the case of Von der Leyen, her nomination must also be approved by the European Parliament.

There is also news at the NATO level, as Mark Rutte, outgoing Prime Minister of the Netherlands, was elected as the new Secretary General, taking over from Jens Stoltenberg from October 2024.