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European elections 2019: What happened this week?

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President Emmanuel Macron meets President Jean-Claude Juncker
President Emmanuel Macron meets President Jean-Claude Juncker -
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Welcome to our weekly round-up of EU elections coverage. With two weeks until voters go to the polls, we'll tell you all you need to know about how the elections work and the role of the parliament, as well as sharing the latest stories.

The home straight has been handily soudtracked by Spotify, who have released a political playlist, plus we hear from an activist who argues that Muslims feel dangerously excluded from EU politics, examine the latest projections from Europe Elects, and explain the raison d'être of the European Council. Meanwhile, candidates for the Commission top job have clashed over the issue of an EU army.

Politics of pop

Digital music giant Spotify has created a European elections playlist, of songs representing each member state. Listeners will note that there are only 27 songs on the list, with the UK and Spain sharing an entry in Mabel's "Don't call me up" – nothing to do with the UK's late confirmation of its participation in the elections, but because English singer Mabel was born in Spain, to a Swede you may have heard of – Neneh Cherry.

What does the European Council do?

Next up in our series of articles explaining the form and functions of the EU's institutions is the European Council (not to be confused with the not at all confusingly similarly named Council of the European Union). The Council is the EU's agenda-setting body, defining the bloc's strategic direction in terms of politics and policy and representing political co-operation between the 28 member states, each of whom is represented by its heads of state or government.

View: Muslims feel excluded from EU politics

Activist and co-founder of grassroots media platform TheMuslimVibe.com, Salim Kassam says the European Parliament is "one of the most monocultural places on this very multicultural continent" and believes the exclusion Muslims feel as a result leads to potentially dangerous political apathy, fear and anger. In this opinion piece, he discusses what can be done, ahead of an election in which far-right and populist politicians are set to make gains.

Reuters
Far-right National Rally (Rassemblement National) leader Marine Le PenReuters

Europe Elects

The latest projections from Europe Elects show Marine Le Pen's far-right Rassemblement National overtaking President Emmanuel Macron's LREM party, while in the Netherlands Eurosceptic party Dutch Forum for Democracy has made gains, following a strong showing in provincial elections. Meanwhile in the UK, while the results of local elections reflect disappointment over the handling of Brexit, it remains to be seen if they are a rallying cry for a second referendum.

War of words

The European Commission presidential candidates candidates have clashed over Germany’s support for the creation of an EU army, at a debate at the European University Institute in Florence. German conservative Manfred Weber backed Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ambition for a permanent multinational armed force. But socialist candidate Frans Timmermans said a European army was not coming any time soon, arguing Europe would be better off focusing on economic cooperation.

And in news from elsewhere...

Politico: Madrid court allows exiled Catalans to run in EU election

New Statesman: What does each party actually want to achieve in the European elections?

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