How do the 2024 European elections work and when will we know the results?

Claudia Delpero, Europe Street
Claudia Delpero, Europe Street - [email protected]
How do the 2024 European elections work and when will we know the results?
A woman leaves a polling booth after voting during the European elections in a polling station, in Baarle-Nassau, south of Netherlands, on June 6, 2024, on the first day of European Parliament election. (Photo by JOHN THYS / AFP)

Polls for the crucial European Parliamentary elections open on Thursday with some 370 million EU citizens eligible to vote over the coming days. So how does the election work and when will we know the all important results?


What are the rules for the European elections?

According to some commentators, the commonly called ‘European elections’ are in fact 27 elections with rules set nationally in the member states of the European Union to select the respective MEPs. But there are some common principles national laws have to follow and one of them is proportional representation.

When do countries vote?

The Netherlands is the first country to open the polls on Thursday June 6th. Ireland will follow on Friday, the Czech Republic on Friday and Saturday, Latvia, Malta and Slovakia on Saturday, Italy on Saturday and Sunday and all other EU member states on Sunday including France and Germany.

For more on this subject visit our special 2024 European elections page.

Who can vote?

In principle all adult EU citizens from the 27 EU countries can vote, but in reality it depends on where they live and where they are from, as some EU countries do not allow or restrict the possibility to vote for citizens who live abroad outside the EU.

EU citizens resident in other EU countries can vote in the country where they live.

Electoral rules are set by each EU member state in line with national law. Ireland, for instance, does not allow its citizens resident abroad to vote, so Irish citizens living in the US for example cannot vote.

The minimum voting age varies too. It is 16 in Belgium, Germany, Malta and Austria, 17 in Greece, and 18 in all other EU countries. In Belgium, Bulgaria, Greece and Luxembourg voting is compulsory.


How many members are elected?

A total of 720 members will be elected to the European Parliament as MEPs for a 5-year mandate. The distribution considers countries’ population:

Germany - 96, France - 81, Italy - 76, Spain - 61, Poland - 53, Romania - 33, Netherlands - 31, Belgium - 22, Greece, Czechia, Sweden, Portugal, Hungary, Austria - 20, Bulgaria - 17, Denmark, Finland, Slovakia - 15, Ireland - 14, Croatia - 12, Lithuania - 11, Slovenia and Latvia - 9, Estonia - 7, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Malta - 6.

How are MEPs split in parliament?

MEPs don’t sit in the European Parliament based on country as they aren’t supposed to act in purely national interests – but looking at what they see as the interest of all of Europe. They sit in the European Parliament based on party group. So a Green from Germany and a Green from France will sit together. That German Green also won’t be sitting with the German Christian Democrats – who themselves will sit on the other side of the chamber with parties like Ireland’s Fine Gael – a fellow centre-right party.

READ ALSO: Why is the European parliament in both Brussels and Strasbourg?

When will we know the results?

The first initial results with projections of the new parliament will be announced at 11pm CET on Sunday 9 June, after the last EU country – Italy – close the polls. The final results will be known when the ballot papers are counted in all EU countries, probably at some point of Monday or even Tuesday.


What happens next?

Between June and July, political groups will be formed, with MEPs grouped by political affiliation. There are currently seven groups in the European Parliament: the European Peoples’ Party (EPP), the Progressive alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D), Renew Europe, the Greens/European Free Alliance, The Left, the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), and Identity and Democracy.

Currently, the European People’s Party (EPP), the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) and the liberals of Renew Europe make up the majority. Polls suggest that the right and far right will make significant gains, but it is not clear yet whether this will change the existing majority.

French far right leader Marine Le Pen recently suggested an alliance of the European Conservative and Reformists (ECR) and the far-right Identity and Democracy (ID) group, but even with the EPP they will not reach a majority based on current polls.

The first European Parliament plenary session will take place from 16 to 19 July, when the Parliament President will be elected.


In the last week of July the 20 parliament committees will be formed. Committees, each responsible for a certain topic, are where the details of proposed legislation are discussed to be then adopted by the plenary.

Is the European Parliament involved in the appointment of the Commission President?

READ ALSO: 10 things you should know about the 2024 European parliamentary elections

Leaders of EU countries will meet in the European Council on 27-28 June to nominate, based on the result of the elections, the new Commission president, who will have to receive the Parliament’s confidence.

European political parties, excluding the ECR and ID, have nominated their candidates to the role. Incumbent President Ursula von der Leyen, who is the lead candidate for the EPP, is likely to be reconfirmed.

What does the parliament do?

The European Parliament passes – together with the EU Council – laws that apply across the EU. Examples include rules on consumer protection, on air and water quality, on artificial intelligence, on digital privacy and on moving within the bloc.

Unlike other parliaments, it cannot directly initiate legislation, but can make recommendations in this regard to the European Commission. Sometimes these are based on petitions from citizens or special inquiries. The Parliament also approves trade agreements with non-EU countries and the EU budget. It has an oversight over other EU institutions and votes the confidence (or censure) of the European Commission.


Comments (1)

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Michael Clifford 2024/06/07 11:15
Thank you, very helpful.

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