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European elections 2024: EU ambassadors propose 6-9 June

European elections 2024: EU ambassadors propose 6-9 June

No agreement was reached on the alternative proposals of the Parliament and Portugal, so the European elections will be on the 'natural date' corresponding to that of the first consultation, in 1979

Brussels – From 6 to 9 June, the ‘natural date’. This is the window in which the 2024 European elections will most likely be held, to elect the 705 MEPs of the tenth legislature.

This is the proposal that will reportedly arrive tomorrow (17 May) from Coreper (the Council of Representatives of the Member States, in essence, the ambassadors of the twenty-seven to the Union), which should pass among the “points 1” those on which, as a rule, there is no discussion.

In this window, as provided for in the 1976 Electoral Act, elections for the European Parliament will be held in all member states, where the traditional voting day varies between Thursday and Sunday.

After today’s passage, the final word will fall to the first useful Council of Ministers, probably on 22-23 May, when the Foreign Affairs and Competitiveness Councils will meet. Here too it will be on the agenda as an item without discussion.

The rules to decide the date of the European elections

The Electoral Act also stipulates that the window of the ‘natural date’, known as the ‘default date’, should correspond as far as possible to the date of the first elections to the European Parliament (7-10 June 1979).

Defining the date of this consultation, although there is the strong guidance of the Electoral Act, is often not an entirely straightforward matter, due to the national holidays of the member states, the coincidence with national electoral deadlines, or the indications of the outgoing Parliament.

The problem is to respect the rules, which are the basis of democracy, but to do so in a way that does not disrupt election campaigns and turnout on voting days.

This multiplied by 27. The Portuguese, for example, had this time asked to see if an agreement could be found not to vote in the 6-9 June window, because the long weekend arising from their national holiday on 10 June could discourage participation in the vote (which in Portugal is traditionally held on Sunday).

The European Parliament, through the Conference of Presidents, had then given an indication for the 23-26 May window, as was the case last time, in 2019, effectively going along with the Portuguese requests (but choosing a date that Germany rejected due to local holidays).

The rule, however, is that if there is no unanimous agreement on alternative dates, as was the case this time, a vote is taken on the ‘natural date’.

The process takes place within the Council and involves first the ‘Working Group’, which is a committee of diplomatic officials of the 27 that then brings its proposals to Coreper, which, as it will do tomorrow, prepares a decision that is voted on by any Council of Ministers of the Union.