Europe’s Choice: Perspectives on the EU Parliamentary Elections TAF Panel Discussion

April 24, 2024

On Wednesday, April 24th, the French-American Foundation—United States hosted a compelling Transatlantic Forum focused on the 2024 European Parliament elections. Held at the offices of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP and generously hosted by board member ad YL Class ’19 Geoffrey Chepiga, the event featured a distinguished panel. The discussion was moderated by Forum member Marie-Barbe Girard and included insights from Tara Varma, Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institute, Hans Kundnani, Visiting Fellow at the Remarque Institute at New York University, and Matthieu Droin, Visiting Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The evening began with opening remarks from FAF-US Chair Edward C. Wallace and President Caroline Naralasetty, who emphasized the enduring Franco-American alliance. The panel kicked off with Marie-Barbe posing a question about the stakes of the upcoming European elections. The panelists shared their expert opinions, suggesting that while these elections are not definitive for European politics, they are a vital indicator of the continent’s political climate, especially with the rise of the far-right.

Discussion also touched on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on European unity, which had previously been strained by issues like debt and refugee influxes. The crisis momentarily boosted unity as it necessitated a collective response, but subsequent challenges like the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the Israel-Palestine conflict have put future unity at risk. Panelists noted that the EU has historically navigated through crises and emphasized that while divisions are expected in a union of diverse nations, some unity persists, such as in the unified response to Russia.

Other topics discussed included the relationship between NATO and the EU, independence in an interdependent world, and the rising influence of the far-right. The panel highlighted how the far-right has gained traction, partly due to blurred lines with the center-right and public discontent with policies like France’s climate regulations, which have significantly impacted sectors like agriculture.

The Q&A session delved into issues such as migration, the economic burdens of climate transition, and the implications of a potential Trump reelection on Europe. The panelists underscored the importance of voting, with one panelist remarking, “Decisions are made by the people who show up,” highlighting the power of the electorate to shape Europe’s future in the upcoming June elections.

We extend our deepest gratitude to Tara, Hans, and Matthieu for their enlightening discussion on European politics and to Geoffrey Chepiga and the team at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP for hosting a successful Forum event.