Geopolitical Implications of Upcoming U.S. and EU Elections with POLITICO

Brakkton Booker (POLITICO), Charles Mahtesian (POLITICO), Meridith McGraw (POLITICO), Alexander Burns (POLITICO), and Kevin Baron (POLITICO) during the Meridian Election Briefing Series program, “Assessing the Geopolitical Implications of the U.S. and EU Elections with POLITICO,” at White-Meyer House in Washington, DC on May 20, 2024. Photo by Stephen Bobb.

Watch Program Recording Here

As election campaigns intensify in the United States, over 350 million citizens across the European Union’s 27 member states are also preparing to vote for the next European Parliament. These simultaneous democratic processes carry significant implications, extending well beyond national borders to influence economic policies, international alliances, and key global issues. To better comprehend the impacts of these elections on both sides of the Atlantic, Meridian partnered with POLITICO to host the latest installment of the Meridian Election Briefing Series, “Assessing the Geopolitical Implications of the U.S. and EU Elections,” on May 20, 2024. During this program, POLITICO correspondents offered in-depth analyses of the upcoming U.S. and EU elections, examining how political shifts might reshape transatlantic relations and global dynamics.

Here are some top takeaways from the program:

1. 2024’s Remarkably Stable U.S. Presidential Race

Amidst the tumult surrounding this year’s elections, the U.S. presidential race has remained remarkably stable. Despite facing an ongoing criminal trial, former President Trump continues to rival President Biden in the polls. However, several factors loom as potential game-changers, including Biden’s handling of the conflict in the Middle East, concerns about both candidates’ age and cognitive function, and the potential impact of other political figures like Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Nikki Haley. With the candidates gearing up for the highly anticipated presidential debates, voters are poised to gain deeper insights into the race’s trajectory over the next five weeks.

2. Beyond the Partisan Divide

While Republican and Democrats remain sharply divided on many domestic policies, a surprising alignment is emerging on foreign policy issues. Alexander Burns, Head of News at POLITICO, observed, “Now we have not just one but two political parties that are intensely skeptical of foreign trade. We have not just one but two political parties that are, if not hostile to immigration, at least acutely sensitive to the country’s political skepticism of immigration.” This convergence reflects a notable shift in the American political landscape, where bipartisan consensus on critical issues could shape future policy directions regardless of the election outcome.

3. Rebalancing Transatlantic Relations

As one of the world’s largest single markets and free trade areas, the European Union is the United States’ most important commercial partner and ally. However, recent years have seen a growing sense of disillusionment regarding the transatlantic relationship, with perceived neglect from the U.S. side.  According to Nicholas Vinocur, Editor-at-Large at POLITICO Europe, “There is a big reckoning happening in Europe, and the reckoning is that the transatlantic relationship is evolving and whether it's President Biden re-elected or Trump coming back to the White House, Europeans are trying to become more independent from the United States.” This shift suggests a changing dynamic in transatlantic relations, prompting European nations to assert greater autonomy and redefine their role on the global stage.

4. EU Parliament Braces for Right-Wing Swing

With less than two weeks until the European Parliament elections, established parties are bracing for potential shifts in power as nationalist right and far-right fringe parties gain momentum. Polls suggest these parties could secure nearly a quarter of seats in the European Parliament, significantly impacting EU policy for the next five years. This anticipated shift, as POLITICO’s Global Playbook Author, Suzanne Lynch, noted, prompts concerns about the traditional power dynamics within the European Parliament. Such a transformation signals a significant change in the EU’s political landscape, potentially leading to new alliances and policy priorities that reflect the growing influence of right-wing parties.

5. A New Era in EU Foreign Policy

While the European Parliament may not wield direct legislative power in foreign affairs, its anticipated rightward shift is set to profoundly shape foreign policy decision-making within the European Commission and Council over the next five years. As Nicholas Vinocur, Editor-at-Large at POLITICO Europe, pointed out, despite lacking the authority to propose legislation, the Parliament holds considerable moral sway. This impending change carries significant implications for the EU’s stance on crucial issues such as Ukraine, China, EU enlargement, free trade, and climate policy. Already, the EU has begun to backtrack and dilute its green policies in response to pressure from far-right parties, underscoring the impact of this political realignment.


This Meridian Election Briefing Series is made possible through the support of:

Dr. Scholl Foundation | Chicago Public Library Foundation

Project summary

Geopolitical Implications of Upcoming U.S. and EU Elections with POLITICO | May 2024
Number of Attendees: 35
Regions: Europe and Eurasia
Impact Areas: Media and Journalism, Business and Trade, Foreign Policy, Governance and Transparency
Program Areas: Diplomatic Engagement
Partners: Private Sector