The recent European Parliament elections confirmed the extent of European citizens’ concern over the continuing effects of the economic crisis across the European Union and the uneven pace of economic recovery. While increased support for eurosceptic parties and, more worryingly, parties with extreme views on some issues, is a cause of considerable concern, support varies greatly across Member States and should not be overstated. A sizeable majority of voters registered their support for pro-EU parties, thus ensuring that they will continue to represent the largest political groups in the new European Parliament.
On 27 May, I joined other EU Heads of State and Government in Brussels to discuss the outcome of the elections and the significance of the results for the way the EU functions and how it is perceived. It is clear that citizens have sent some strong messages which must be heeded. I stressed that our immediate focus must be on addressing the concerns raised by Europe’s citizens and that this will best be achieved by prioritising measures to speed up economic recovery and spur job creation across the EU, including through the completion of Banking Union, deepening of the single market, and the agreement of free trade agreements with external partners.
At the meeting, Heads of State and Government agreed on the need to set a positive and future-oriented agenda for growth, competitiveness and jobs while accelerating the recovery, as part of our collective response to the elections. Leaders also set some broad orientations on priorities and the strategic agenda for the years ahead, which will be the focus of further discussion at the June European Council.