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EU Elections Unpacked: a close look at the European Left’s manifesto

In our ongoing series of EU Elections Unpacked briefings, we have already examined the manifestos of the centre-left Socialists, the centre-right European People’s Party and the Greens. Now, we turn our attention to the European Left manifesto. Stay tuned for forthcoming explorations of other parties’ political agendas.

The Party of the European Left unites socialist and communist parties across Europe. In the European Parliament, its elected members are attached to ‘The Left – GUE/NGL,’ group, a minority faction with 37 of 705 MEPs. Committed to gender parity, the group’s leadership is shared by MEP Manon Aubry (France) and MEP Martin Schirdewan (Germany). Both leaders are running for re-election in their respective countries and are poised for success according to recent polls. The lead candidate for President of the European Commission is Walter Baier (Austria), the current President of the European left and former Chairman of the Communist Party of Austria.

The European Left’s manifesto for the 2024 European Parliament focuses on safeguarding the rule of law and democracy both in Europe and internationally, addressing climate change and poverty, as well as defending social rights and minorities.

Politically, the manifesto advocates for empowering the European Parliament with legislative initiative powers, authority to propose and decide on the EU budget and oversight of the ECB’s activities.

In this briefing, we explore The Left’s key proposals organised by business-critical areas.

Defending democracy and peace from the far right and conflict

A key theme of the manifesto is combating the rise of the far right. The Left advocates for the implementation of the European Parliament's resolution on the rise of neo-fascist violence. This includes banning all neo-fascist and neo-Nazi organisations and foundations, establishing a European anti-fascist centre for documentation, scientific research and education, and declaring 25 April as a European Day of Struggle against Fascism.

The defence of peace is also a central tenet of the manifesto. The Left calls for a ceasefire in the war in Ukraine and conflicts in the Middle East. Regarding nuclear disarmament, the Left aims to make Europe a nuclear weapon-free continent by fully implementing the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and signing and ratifying the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Additionally, The Left supports the reunification of Ireland, ending the Turkish occupation of Cyprus, and achieving the full reunification of Cyprus.

An efficient and fair tax system

To establish an effective and fairer tax system, the Left proposes several measures. Chief among them is the long-debated financial transaction tax. Additionally, the Left advocates for taxing digital platforms and windfall profits, specifically targeting energy and war-related industries. They also propose a European tax on the wealthy, with the revenue directed towards poverty reduction and environmental and social transitions.

Addressing tax havens is a priority for The Left. They aim to abolish tax havens within the EU by establishing a common minimum level of taxation on profits and large assets. To combat tax evasion, they suggest creating a detailed list of European and non-European tax havens and introducing a withholding tax on the income of multinationals and banks.

Combating global warming through socio-ecological and eco-social transformation

The environmental and climate measures proposed by The Left are deeply rooted in social equity. A key component of their programme involves transitioning corporate production by altering the ECB’s banking policy. The includes offering low interest (0 per cent or lower) bank loans for investments that reduce carbon emissions and create jobs, while imposing high-interest rates on loans for investments that result in job cuts, relocations or increased pollution.

The Left also proposes raising the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction target from 55 to 65 per cent by 2030 and advancing the climate neutrality goal to 2035 instead of 2050. They advocate for imposing fuel taxes on planes and cars, banning private flights, prioritising trains for journeys under two and a half hours, reviving night trains and expanding rail networks.

Furthermore, The Left calls for sustainable trade practices by cancelling some existing free trade agreements with the countries in the global south. These agreements should be replaced with international agreements that respect the industrial and agricultural sovereignty of partner countries, promoting improved labour conditions and include sustainable clauses.

A human-centred digitalisation to prevent exclusion

The Left's digital policy agenda emphasises three main areas: (i) strict regulation of artificial intelligence (AI); (ii) platform economy workers’ rights; and (iii) combatting digital exclusion.

On AI, the Left supports principles ensuring that humans remain in control, preventing discriminatory use of AI and banning AI applications in high-risk areas, such as megadata transactions and weapons systems.

Building on the recent approval of the Platform Workers Directive, The Left’s manifesto highlights the importance of formally recognising platform economy workers and ensuring their labour rights are respected.

To address the risk of digital exclusion, particularly among the elderly who may struggle to keep pace with the digitalisation of public and private services, the Left emphasises the need for adequate user support to prevent exclusion and ensure equitable access to digital resources.

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Léa Bareil, Deputy head, EU Regulatory and Public Affairs 

Gonçalo Loureiro, EU Regulatory and Public Affairs Intern

Annabelle Duramé, EU Regulatory and Public Affairs Intern