Sunday's vote for the 751-member council saw a record number seats go to former fringe groups opposed to a united Europe. Mainstream political parties are now preparing to cope with a continent whose leaders are less interested in a united future. Four years after a debt crisis, Europe has not yet recovered, and voters are blaming the European Union.
The results suggested a backlash against demands for fiscal austerity, recommended by Germany, which voters blame for massive unemployment across the continent, particularly in Greece. Nationalist, far-left and far-right candidates were elected to the parliament, indicating the cause of continental integration will be slowed.
New momentum will likely be found to return certain powers ceded to the parliament, back to national governments, as British Prime Minister David Cameron has sought.
The elections were "a massive rejection of the European Union," said Marine Le Pen, whose French anti-EU party had its best results ever on Sunday. She said it was an indication the French "don't want to be led from the outside anymore."
Parties hostile to the European Union won a third of available seats in the European Parliament, and could stop, or at least dilute, legislation that includes a proposed free trade agreement between the EU and the United States.
The bloc could "stop certain issues, and that could certainly apply to free trade. These groups tend to be very protectionist," said Mats Persson of the London-based advisory group Open Europe.
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