Just a month ago, the Eurobarometer produced by the European Commission ranked health and the economy as the main issues that Spaniards expect to see in the programs of the parties for the European elections on June 9, whose campaign starts tonight They are followed in the ranking by agricultural policy and climate change, and behind them is the concern for migration and asylum policies and defense and security, the latter issue being among the three issues that most concern Europeans in general. And the survey also detects an unusual increase in participation in the run-up to these elections: seven out of ten believe they will vote (10% more than in 2019). Perhaps it took a pandemic and a war for the citizens of the Twenty-Seven to see what it is worth to be part of the EU club. The international context, of growing instability, is one of the elements mentioned by eight out of ten to underline the importance of the June meeting. There is interest, but also ignorance about what is at stake in the new legislature, in which Spain, as the fourth EU country in terms of population and GDP, has a lot to say.

“Spain is playing to continue enjoying the advantages that being part of the EU has given us these past 45 years, at a time when the internal political situation is much more complicated, with an open war on European territory and with a position by China and Russia that in some way threaten our democratic system and our system of freedoms – emphasizes the Director General of Communication and spokesperson of the European Parliament, Jaume Duch -. And also knowing that in the coming years we will have to contribute to the EU having enough autonomy to continue defending its citizens in this much more complex world”.

As Duch points out, the global situation has changed the course set by the EU, which in the current legislative cycle prioritized the green agenda and the digital agenda. They will not be left out, but they will be given a new approach to economic security and strategic autonomy, emphasizes Raquel García, European Affairs researcher at the Royal Elcano Institute. “In the new legislature, the policies of competitiveness, of strengthening the internal market, of the green and digital transition of our economies will be key. And in all these decisions, aimed at protecting the economic interests of the EU, it will be necessary to take into account a more volatile international context, in which the Union is dependent on supply chains, looking for allies, and what to do with the relationship with the China and with the United States”, he emphasizes.

Duch emphasizes the importance of strategic autonomy: “In the coming years, and with some haste, the EU must be much less dependent on third countries in matters that have to do with its own defense, its security, its access to energy and basic products, from minerals to sophisticated items such as chips that a very important part of European industry needs”, he underlines.

Another fundamental issue on the table, and with consequences, is the enlargement of the EU, to the Western Balkans and to the former Soviet republics of Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. “What remains to be done is enormous and that is why these elections are so important because we are talking about issues that are not technical like those of 15 or 20 years ago, we are not talking about roaming, but about how to organize ourselves to continue defending this system of peace, democracy and prosperity that some want to put in jeopardy”, emphasizes the spokesperson of the Parliament.

Is it like that. The political orientation of the EU is decided by the European Council, which includes the Heads of State and Government, and high-ranking positions are also negotiated there, or the distribution of portfolios of the college of commissioners, recalls Raquel García . But the composition of the European Parliament, the only institution that is decided directly by the vote of the citizens, will determine the legislation, on an equal footing with the Council of the EU, in which the ministers of the member states participate.

A rise of the extreme right, with uncompromising positions on matters such as migration or environmental policy, to give two examples, would have a direct influence on the new European laws. “That’s why it’s important to go to the polls, so that Parliament can continue to be an institution that looks for constructive solutions – points out Duch-. There has been a useful response to major crises and the EU has consolidated, to the point where many of those fringe parties that used to advocate leaving the Union no longer do so because they see that people are no longer into it “.

In Spain, 77% applaud EU membership. Eurosceptics have little future here.