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Brussels’ growing list of climate and industrial regulations is driving voters toward populist parties ahead of June’s EU election, the president of the European Parliament said.

In an interview, Roberta Mesola said the new regulations needed a “proportional test” and a proper cost assessment.

“Euroscepticism grows because centrist parties take voters for granted,” added the Maltese politician, referring to her own European People’s Party and the centre-left Socialists and Democrats.

“If EPP and S&D are losing ground, we have to ask ourselves why. Why have we stopped talking to our businesses? Do we see climate ambition and economic growth as mutually exclusive?”

Falling living standards due to high inflation, concerns about immigration and the cost of climate change policies such as replacing gas boilers are fueling voter shifts to the right, analysts say.

Opinion polls showed big victories for far-right parties such as the Alternative for Germany and Georgia Meloni’s Brothers Italia, while the Greens, Freedoms and other centrists suffered losses. However, the four pro-European blocs are likely to retain their majority.

Metsola’s EPP recently called for a regulatory moratorium and opposed plans to improve biodiversity by rewilding some farmland.

But she said her latest comments reflected the views of the full MPs and that parliament’s reaction was based on public pressure.

“We don’t do a scale test. We don’t ask what is the real cost once it’s implemented?” she said.

“This will be my fifth time running in a European election. It’s a question we get asked every time: ‘You talk about big regulatory projects, but you don’t spend them.'”

She added that Slovak journalists told her that stricter emissions rules for internal combustion engines, known as Euro 7, could lead to job losses. Carmakers say the new rules make no sense as sales of petrol- and diesel-powered cars and vans will be banned in the European Union from 2035.

However, some nature policies are popular with voters, she said, adding that the European Commission should publish its proposals to improve animal welfare on farms, in response to a petition by more than 1 million European citizens.

She also called on Brussels to loosen fiscal rules so governments can maintain spending on public services and infrastructure.

“Prime Ministers say I cannot defeat the growing Eurosceptics if I find myself under pressure from the bureaucracy,” she said.

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