Campaigning in the European elections may be over, but now it's all about politicians wooing and championing one another — all the while figuring out how to get around the maze that is the European Parliament. Euronews takes a look at what newly elected MEPs get up to after the EU elections until the start of their first parliamentary session.
What happens the week after?
The polls may have closed on May 26, but the morning after is when the real politicking begins.
In the European Parliament elections, voters choose a candidate representing a national party. The elected candidate's national party then decides which political group within the European Parliament to align with.
For example, Christian Democrats anchor the centre-right European People's Party group while socialist parties tend to be housed within the centre-left Socialists and Democrats group. Independents as well as political parties entering for the first time choose which group they want to be allied with.
But the main thing to note is that political parties can switch groups. While technically parties can change groups at any time, it's mainly done in the weeks leading up to when a new Parliament convenes. And this is when group leaders wooing political party leaders really take shape.
Hungary's centre-left Democratic Coalition has been with the Socialist and Democrats group. But Klára Dobrev, this year's lead candidate of the party and newly elected MEP, was in Brussels this week to speak with political groups.
Dobrev spoke with Euronews about what she's up to as a newly elected MEP and the relationships being forged — as well as getting one's bearings on where everything is.
"First of all, learning how to get around in the European Parliament, I got lost at least three times today. But the basis of European politics is to have friends, alliances, to have people who are thinking alike, that's the way you can achieve your goals. So the next few days are about talking, looking for friends, looking for alliances, deciding where to sit and what to do. So these are the most important questions in the next few days."
One goal of Dobrev's party, which is led by her husband and former Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány, is to see Viktor Orbán's ruling Fidesz party kicked out of the EPP group. The federalist duo is keen to align themselves with a political group that will help them take on the current Hungarian leader and realise a "United States of Europe".
"The friends of Europe and enemies of Europe cannot stay in the same group or alliance. There is no compromise. I told you Europe is about compromises and finding solutions to problems — but there is no compromise with the extreme right and enemies of Europe," she said to Euronews.
"That's why we have a fourth question in every negotiation talk, whether they are ready to block Orban's European games and lies and participation in this kind of destructive politics that he's doing here."
Dobrev said the Democratic Coalition will decide by next Friday whether it will join the liberal ALDE&R group championed by France's Emmanuel Macron or stick with the S&D group.
Getting signed up
New MEPs are invited to come to a "welcome village" for an administrative 'check-in' to sort documents 27/05 till 28/06 in Brussels and 1-4/07 in Strasbourg.
This includes filling in mandatory declarations such as their financial declaration and a declaration that they do not hold any offices incompatible with that of an MEP (re. the electoral act of 1976) + in addition as of 2019: the declaration of appropriate behaviour (rule10.6) and the new transparency rules.
Do they have to move to Brussels?
The newly elected MEP decides. MEPs frequently travel from their home constituency to Brussels and Strasbourg — but it's up to them to decide how often. Many MEPs have an apartment in Brussels and the costs can be covered with Parliament's daily allowance that includes a €320 flat rate per day to cover accommodation and related costs when MEPs are on official business in Brussels or Strasbourg.
For Dobrev, whose constituency is in Budapest, she will find a flat in Brussels. Her children are thrilled with her new role, especially her youngest son, who is four years old.
"We were trying to explain what Europe is about and what the campaign is ... he's quite excited so I explained to him that he'll have a double home, he'll have one in Budapest and one in Brussels. And the first question was: 'Are there going to be any chores in Brussels?'"
What if Brexit happens?
The European Council, which is made up of EU leaders, has been bracing for the UK's exit from the bloc. In 2018, it adopted new rules that redistribute the UK's seats — while also reducing the overall number of MEP seats from 751 to 705.
That means of the UK's 73 seats vacated, 46 seats will be removed entirely — while the 27 remaining seats will be redistributed (+5), Spain (+5), Italy (+3), Netherlands (+3), Ireland (+2), Sweden (+1), Austria (+1), Denmark (+1), Finland (+1), Slovakia (+1), Croatia (+1), Estonia (+1), Poland (+1) and Romania (+1).
No member state loses any seats and the remaining 46 seats will be set aside for future bloc enlargements.
When would the UK's seats be redistributed after Brexit?
In short: the day after. A spokeswoman from the European Parliament told Euronews: "In such a situation where the old composition still applies at the beginning of next term, the new composition will apply immediately at the date of the withdrawal (from 751 to 705 MEPs) — so right after Brexit..."
She added that if Brexit were, for example, to happen on 31 October (the latest deadline for the UK to agree to an EU withdrawal agreement), the redistribution of seats would begin the day after, on 1 November.
What would the UK's exit from European Parliament mean for political groups?
The eurosceptic Brexit Party is expected to take 29 seats when the new Parliament convenes in July, unless a withdrawal deal is secured before then. Nigel Farage's Brexit Party is tied with Germany's CDU-CSU as being the largest party sitting within the European Parliament. So if the UK formally exits, it will be a huge dent on far-right alliances, including — potentially — Matteo Salvini's European Alliance of People and Nations group, which has been wooing Farage into joining their coalition.
When will the final list of MEPs be ready?
We won't know officially until the start of the first plenary session on 2 July at 10:00 a.m. "It is now up to the national authorities to send the names of the elected MEPs to the EP," wrote a European Parliament spokeswoman to Euronews.
It takes some weeks for seats to be confirmed on a national level. There are even instances where a newly elected MEP rejects their seat entirely and a new person needs to be appointed. That's the case for Sarunas Marciulionis in Lithuania, a former basketball star who declined to take his seat after winning to focus on domestic issues.