Party manifestos: This is what the European Parliament’s groups stand for ahead of the elections

With EU voters set to go to the polls next month, here’s a closer look at the policy platforms undergirding each group.
European Commission (EC) President Ursula von der Leyen reacts in Bucharest, Romania, March 7, 2024. The incumbent EC President Ursula von der Leyen has won the nomination from the European People's Party (EPP), the largest political group in the European Parliament, for a second term.

By Julia Kaiser

Julia is a reporter at The Parliament Magazine

17 May 2024

When EU citizens cast their votes in the European Parliament (EP) elections from 6 to 9 June, they will vote for national parties in their respective countries. Those parties, in turn, are represented in transnational parties at the European level, which then form political groups in the Parliament.  

Some of those groups – such as the centrist Renew Europe group – consist of alliances of multiple like-minded transnational parties. Others – such as the centre-right European People’s Party – represent just one party at the European level.  

Most of the transnational parties that comprise the various political groups in the EP publish their own manifestos, outlining their policy positions and objectives for the next mandate. In the run-up to the elections, we’ve unpacked the key priorities for each of the group’s major parties – from defence and security to climate change and economic policy.  

Group of the European People's Party (EPP)    

With 176 seats out of 705 as of the end of the last plenary session in April, the centre-right EPP is the largest political group in the European Parliament. The group also shares the same name as the transnational party it represents – the European People’s Party – which is made up of MEPs from national parties such as the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in Germany. The party – whose lead candidate, or Spitzenkandidat, is European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen of Germany’s CDU – adopted its manifesto in March in Bucharest.   

Compared to its 2019 manifesto, defence and security has become a much bigger priority for the EPP in this election year. Amid Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine, the party is advocating for an enlarged Nato and a commissioner for security and defence, while calling for a crackdown on migration.  

The EPP is also in favour of deepening the European single market and expanding free-trade partnerships.  

The manifesto calls for respecting climate targets outlined in the Green Deal, even if critics contend the party has pivoted away from focusing on climate policies in response to a backlash by farmers across the continent.  

The EPP is expected to increase its seats in the Parliament to 183 following the June election – one more than it gained in the 2019 election and seven more than it currently holds – according to a poll by Europe Elects from 29 April.

Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D)    

Second largest is the S&D, the political group of the transnational centre-left Party of European Socialists (PES), which currently holds 139 seats in the EP. The PES manifesto outlines 20 policy commitments and was adopted in March in Rome. The lead candidate is Nicolas Schmit of the Luxembourg Socialist Workers’ Party.  

The S&D’s platform is focused on social and environmental equality – including providing renewable and affordable energy, fighting tax fraud, and providing affordable housing.  

The group also advocates for closing the gender pay gap and making the labour market more inclusive for migrants. At the same time, the party stands for deepening Europe’s defence sector, enlarging the EU, and expanding international partnerships.      

The S&D is expected to slightly increase its seats in the EP to 140, according to Europe Elects.  

Renew Europe Group    

The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) and the European Democratic Party (EDP) are the main transnational parties that make up Renew Europe. The liberal and pro-European group currently holds 102 seats in the EP.   

The biggest party in the group, ALDE, published its manifesto in March and chose Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann of Germany’s Free Democratic Party (FDP) as its lead candidate.  

Source: Europe Elects.
Projection of the next European Parliament by Europe Elects (29 April 2024). 

A major aspect of its policy platform is security and defence. The party calls for expanding pan-European defence capabilities and, like the EPP, for the establishment of a European commissioner for defence.  

While ALDE also embraces EU enlargement, the party demands reforms to make the EU more efficient and financially sound. ALDE is also committed to free trade – including agreements such as the Mercosur trade deal with South American countries – and deepening the single market.   

Additionally, ALDE advocates for safeguarding individual freedoms like same-sex marriage. More broadly, the party is an advocate for greater European integration – including transnational voting to give voters the “choice to vote for any European representative” regardless of nationality.  

Renew Europe is expected to lose 16 seats in the EP in next month’s elections, according to Europe Elects.  

Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance    

This leftwing and pro-European group is made up of an alliance of the Greens and the European Free Alliance (EFA) transnational parties. In the ninth mandate, members from the European Pirate Party joined them. With 72 seats, it is the fourth largest group in the EP.    

Most members belong to the European Green Party, which adopted its more than 40-page manifesto in February in Lyon. The party’s lead candidates are Terry Reintke of the German Greens, and Bas Eickhout of the Dutch GreenLeft. 

With its Green and Social Deal, the party is focused on climate and social justice – with a goal of reaching climate neutrality by 2040, ahead of the Green Deal target of 2050. The party says that funding from the European common agricultural policy should be tied to social and environmental criteria. The Greens also encourage a transition to more plant-based diets.    

The party is an advocate for affordable housing and lower taxes for middle-class workers; enshrining abortion rights in EU law; and reforming the EU to allow the EP to initiate laws.  

The group is expected to lose 22 seats in the EP elections, according to Europe Elects.  

 European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR)    

The Eurosceptic and right-wing ECR is comprised of the transnational European Conservatives and Reformists Party (ECR Party), and the European Christian Political Movement. In the current mandate, 69 MEPs represent the group in the EP. 

The group considers itself “Euro-realistic” but not anti-European. It strives for the EU to be a “community of nations cooperating in areas where they have some common interests that can best be advanced by working together.”  

The ECR Party, which did not nominate a lead candidate, is by far the dominant voice in the group and one of its key objectives, adopted in its manifesto in April in Strasbourg, is the preservation of national identity within Europe.  

The party calls for reforming the EU by strengthening the authority of member states, while rejecting the extension of qualified majority voting. While it embraces EU-Nato cooperation, the party contends that “defence and military preparedness should remain the prerogative of the member states.”     

Another priority is migration. The party proposes a strategy for border security that covers all possible points of entry, while calling for increased efforts to combat human trafficking and smuggling. The ECR Party believes the majority of applications by asylum seekers should be assessed outside the EU.    

The ECR group is expected to gain 17 seats in the elections, bringing its total number of seats to 86, according to Europe Elects.  

Identity and Democracy Group    

The other Euroscpetic and right-wing group in the EP is Identity and Democracy (ID), solely comprised of the transnational Identity and Democracy Party. With 58 MEPs, the group is the sixth largest group in the plenary. According to a spokesperson, the party did not adopt a manifesto and instead supports the platforms of relevant national parties in member states – including Lega in Italy, National Rally in France, and the Alternative for Germany (AfD). The party did not nominate a lead candidate.   

Marine le Pen, leader of National Rally, called on member states to “take back the power that the EU has confiscated from them” when kicking off the election campaign.  

Meanwhile, Harald Vilimsky from the Austrian Freedom Party (FPO) stated at a party conference in April that he wouldn’t hesitate to press a “red button to get Austria out of the madness of the EU,” while Lega has lobbied for “more Italy, less Europe.”  

ID is expected to gain 26 seats in the EP next month, according to Europe Elects.  

 The Left in the European Parliament  

This leftwing group consists of the transnational Party of the European Left (PEL), the Nordic Green Left Alliance (NGLA), the European Anti-Capitalist Left (EACL), Now the People! (NTP!), and Animal Politics EU (APEU). The group currently holds 37 seats in the EP.    

The group’s biggest member, PEL, agreed on its manifesto in February, while nominating Walter Baier of the Communist Party of Austria as its lead candidate.  

In its platform for the next mandate, PEL highlights the EU’s role as a peacemaker. The party advocates for peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, and sanctions against Israel over its ongoing war in Gaza. The party also opposes further Nato expansion as a means of countering Russian aggression. At the same time, PEL argues that “wars and the global arms race are key factors influencing the environmental crisis,” while calling for the EU to become climate-neutral by 2035 – a full 15 years ahead of the target mandated by the Green Deal.    

PEL is also a major advocate for labour and human rights – including a minimum income and the adoption of a common definition of rape at the EU level.     

The Left in the European Parliament is expected to increase its number of seats next month to 44, according to Europe Elects.  

Read the most recent articles written by Julia Kaiser - Germany’s scandal-ridden AfD rides steady wave of support into elections