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EU Elections Unpacked: a close look at the Christian Democrats’ manifesto

In our series of EU elections unpacked briefings, we have examined the future of the Green Deal, the impact of the election on financial services, and delved into the centre-left Socialist manifesto. Here we provide an analysis of the manifesto for the centre-right European People’s Party. Analysis of other parties’ manifestos will follow.

The European People’s Party (EPP) represents the conservative centre-right wing in the European Parliament. It is the largest group in the European Parliament, albeit without an absolute majority, necessitating coalitions with other groups. Currently led by German MEP Manfred Weber, who assumed the presidency in 2022, the party is also home to the incumbent President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, who is actively seeking a second term.

For the 2024 election, the EPP has crafted a detailed manifesto centred on safeguarding the ‘European way of life,’ where freedom and security are key. Emphasising a strong Europe that secures its borders, tackles illegal migration and upholds the rule of law, the EPP also advocates for a competitive Europe that boosts its economy. Additionally, they champion climate and environmental protection as integral to achieving economic prosperity and ensuring food security. Their platform further underscores the necessity of investing in cutting-edge infrastructure, innovation and digital technologies.

While the manifesto critiques the far-right’s approach on multiple occasions, it stops short of explicitly stating whether the EPP is open to cooperation of coalition-building with them, in contrast to the transparent stance of some other parties. During a political debate featuring the primary candidates for the EU election, Ursula von der Leyen clarified that she would not engage with the Identity and Democracy (ID) group, while expressing a willingness to cooperate with the other right-wing group, the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), contingent upon the composition of the new Parliament.

Here we delve deeper into the EPP’s main proposals, categorised according to areas of importance for business.

Boosting the European economy

The EPP proudly identifies the social market economy as one of their inventions, stressing its adaptability to the evolving challenges facing the European economy. Central to their economic vision is the creation of a tax-friendly and business-supportive environment, ensuring both fair contributions to society from companies and support for workers’ incomes.

The EPP underscores the imperative for the EU to improve and deepen its single market, while fostering competitiveness. Their agenda includes initiatives to establish a genuine digital single market, launch a Competitiveness Strategy for Europe, introduce an EU Competitiveness Check for new policy initiatives and establish a European Advisory Competitiveness Body for SMEs in order to prioritise a business-friendly regulatory environment.

Streamlining existing regulations is another key priority for the EPP, who advocate for EU legislation to be user-friendly, easy to understand and implementable. They propose measures such as the ‘one in, two out’ principle to reduce regulatory burdens and suggest appointing a dedicated European Commissioner for SMEs and cutting red tape. Additionally, they propose the introduction of a sunset clause in EU law to automatically expires legislation after a set period unless further action is warranted, along with periodic checks for potential contradictions between laws.

The EPP commits to advancing European industrial and competition policies to foster the emergence of European champions.

They also aim to complete the Capital Markets Union and Banking Union to improve access to capital for European companies, fostering future investment and enhancing integration among Member States.

The Green Deal as a path to competitiveness

The EPP acknowledges the European Green Deal as a significant milestone for the EU, highlighting its capacity to foster growth while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions. With an eye towards the ‘next phase’ of the Green Deal, the party underscores the importance of its implementation, asserting that the greening of the economy is indispensable for maintaining competitiveness. They remain steadfast in their commitment to achieving the EU’s targets of reducing emissions by 55% by 2030 and attaining climate neutrality by 2050.

Central to their strategy is leveraging technology to facilitate this transition, coupled with financial support for companies, especially SMEs, as they navigate this transformative process. Emphasising the critical role of the internal energy market, the EPP pledges to invest in enhancing electricity and gas network interconnections between EU Member States. They also advocate for incentivising investments that foster innovations aimed at integrating European electricity and gas markets more effectively. Additionally, they promise to champion a CO2 circular economy, promoting the use of responsible raw materials and business models to minimise the environmental impact.

A digital Europe underpinned by European values

In their dedicated section on digitalisation and a ‘human-centred AI’, the EPP underscores the paramount importance of placing European values at the forefront of all technological innovation policies, whether in the realms of AI, biomedicine or robotics. They highlight the current lack of investments in AI in and commit to expanding the European digital network, particularly for 5G and 6G technologies across the EU.

Furthermore, the EPP emphasises the necessity of safeguarding critical infrastructure, such as telecommunications, from takeovers by third countries. They advocate for enabling, developing and utilising AI while ensuring that regulatory frameworks do not stifle its progress. On data protection, they call for adjustments to align requirements with the digital realities of the modern world.

Additionally, the EPP supports the establishment of a European pilot line infrastructure for semiconductor innovations and advocates for dedicated EU funding to foster a digital Europe. They aim to accelerate investments in R&D and digital infrastructure, ensuring robust innovation capacities and widespread access to connectivity.

In response to the emerging job landscape in the digital sector, the EPP advocates for the establishment of an EU Workers’ Guarantee for the Digital Market. This initiative aims to safeguard employment rights in the digital age, ensuring that workers are adequately protected as new opportunities emerge.

EU enlargement and bolstering defence capabilities

The EPP reaffirms Europe’s unwavering support for Ukraine and pledges to continue leading efforts to provide assistance to the country. They support the EU’s enlargement strategy and promises of accession for Ukraine, the Western Balkans, Moldova and Georgia, but emphasise the need for candidate countries to meet the requirements for membership.

Recognising global tensions, such as those between Taiwan and China, the EPP advocates for expanding NATO and enhancing cooperation with key European partners, including the UK and Norway.

In terms of bolstering European defence capabilities, the EPP proposes a three-step approach: firstly, promoting joint military procurement through initiatives like the European Defence Industry Reinforcement through the Common Procurement Act and the European Defence Industrial Development Programme, with the ultimate goal of establishing a Single Market for Defence; second, leveraging all available options in the EU Treaties to facilitate cross-border military transport; and thirdly, advocating for the development of a comprehensive European Defence Union, integrating forces across land, sea, cyber and air domains. They also propose establishing a Commissioner for Security and Defence, alongside the creation of an EU Fund for External Military Intervention and an EU Cyber Brigade.

On trade, the EPP advocates for open and fair trade, seeking to boost the EU’s trade policy while overcoming resistance from both left wing and right-wing populist factions. They want to improve trade with like-minded partners, including intensifying engagements with regions such as Latin America, the Indo-Pacific region, and Africa.

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Léa Bareil, Deputy head, EU Regulatory and Public Affairs 

Gonçalo Loureiro, EU Regulatory and Public Affairs Intern

Annabelle Duramé, EU Regulatory and Public Affairs Intern