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A fragmented Europe

State of the Union
State of the Union Copyright REUTERS
Copyright REUTERS
By Stefan Grobe
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Europe has spoken and the centre is shrinking, while far-right, liberals and Greens have gained. We look at what's next for the EU.


The European elections are over, the voters have spoken.

Turnout was the highest in a quarter century. In fact, more people cast their ballots than watched the Eurovision Song Contest this year.

That should put to rest all the talk about Europe not connecting with or not inspiring people.

So what are the main takeaways of the elections?

Number one: the projected nationalist wave failed to materialize. There were some ripples, but not enough to flood the new parliament.

Number two: the center shrank. Christian and Social Democrats suffered losses, but not big enough to oust them from power totally.

Instead, number three, they will now have to share power with invigorated Liberals and/or Greens.

To take stock of the new situation, the heads of state and government came together in Brussels just two days after the elections.

It was the start of the big horse-trading.

To Spitzenkandidaten or not to Spitzenkandidaten?

So, we can expect a major showdown between the Council and the Parliament over the next Commission president.

Yet, they are forced by the treaties to forge a compromise.

Again, the question is whether the principle of the lead candidate should be strictly applied, a process that has been given the catchy German name of Spitzenkandidatenverfahren.

Take a look above at the explainer.

No confidence

In Austria, the European elections were overshadowed by a politically juicy scandal called Ibiza-Gate.

A video had emerged that showed the far-right nationalist leader basically trying to sell his country to the Russians – on a beautiful Spanish island.

In the meantime, the guy had become vice chancellor in a coalition of the mainstream conservatives under Sebastian Kurz and the nationalists.

The secretly produced footage led not only to the collapse of the Vienna coalition, but also to the downfall of Kurz.

At 32, Kurz is hoping though to stage a comeback and to have a future in politics.


Next week

On Monday, Donald Trump starts a three-day state visit to the United Kingdom.

There will be meetings with the royal family, and major protests against him are expected in London.

On Wednesday, voters in Denmark elect a new parliament.

The challenge for Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen is whether he can defend his narrow majority.

And on Thursday, ceremonies in Normandy take place to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the allied landings in World War Two.


French president Macron will host heads of state and government from Europe and North America.

Last Word

This week it's German Chancellor Angela Merkel who, at Harvard University, had some warm words for Donald Trump.

It is important that we break down walls. Walls in people's minds, walls of ignorance and narrow mindednessI would like us to see break down these walls.
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