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The Brief: New European Parliament sets priorities, Brexit divisions in Strasbourg

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The Brief: New European Parliament sets priorities, Brexit divisions in Strasbourg
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REUTERS/Vincent Kessler
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New European Parliament sets priorities

As newly-elected MEPs made their way to Strasbourg this week, they have been confronted with the reality of a more fragmented European Parliament.

The higher turnout in the recent European elections proves Europe is on people’s minds. However, British historians like Timothy Garton Ash have recognized that parties will need to work harder to establish a consensus.

"I think it is good that the old grand coalition of the EPP and Socialists have lost its hegemony, but the real question for the European Parliament and Europe as a whole is can we reach decisive action? Or is this little game and dance so complicated that we don't actually get to the point of doing the things that we need to do?" Ash said.

Seven political groups have been formed in the new European Parliament while two other major parties are left out. The British Brexit Party and the Five Star Movement are still looking for a place in the hemicycle.

The Greens are clear winners in May's elections, even though the "green wave" has not taken root in all EU states.

"The green agenda is there," said Piotr Maciej Kaczyński, an expert at the EUROPEUM Institute for European Policy.

"It’s fully installed at the core of what the EU will be dealing with over the next five years. But now we have to deliver, now the union has to deliver, and that will not be as easy."

The four centrist groups (EPP, S&D, RE and the Greens) are negotiating a coalition agreement and possible future agreement on the five priority areas: Climate Change; Economic and fiscal policies; Digitalisation; Rule of Law, Borders and Migration; and finally, foreign affairs.

Brexit divisions apparent in Strasbourg

British divisions over Brexit were on display at the opening session of the new European Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday.

Anti-Brexit members from the Liberal Democrat party wearing yellow t-shirts in protest.

Members of the Brexit party also made a statement by turning around while the EU's Ode to Joy marked the occasion.

Federalist youth organisations make demands

Federalist youth organisations are demanding the EU become a federal state outside the European Parliament.

The groups said that the deadlock on EU's top jobs shows the limitations of EU policy while the bloc is made up of national states.