Focus on the european Parliament, one year election

One year after their election, Parlorama has censed and analysed the professionalism of the deputies in order to better understand the actual functioning of the assembly. This study is based on the entire objective, public and available data which were compiled and analysed by Parlorama. Starting with the presence and activity of every member of the European Parliament (MEP), the data collected not only accounts for the parliamentary work of the political groups but allows understanding the workings of the institution as well as the themes that were discussed during this first year.

This study is entirely based on public data, provided by the European Parliament on its website wwww.europarl.europa.eu. It covers the parliamentary activities from July 2009 to May 2010. Parlorama has used and analysed the following: 1100 pages of minutes, 289 reports, 231 avis, 7600 written questions, 190 oral questions, 12000 speeches in plenary.

The graduating method used in the study to give a grade for both MEPs and political groups relies on criteria filled in by the people concerned; one will find for example the presence rate in plenary and the activity in the hemicycle (number of written questions, oral questions, speeches etc.). The collective evaluation is weighted by the individual performance. For this first year, the margins being too large to be considered, Parlorama will no publicise individual marks for each MEP.

Furthermore, the themes on which the institution focused on have been gathered and analysed. This zoom helps to understand the Parliament’s political agenda, its dynamics over time, its permeability to society issues and the expectations of the public opinion. Major lessons Concerning the Assembly The activities of the Parliament have not much changed in termes of quantity compared to 2004 (e.g. resolutions, reports…). This statement is explained by the fact that the EP has certainly reached its administrative climax for now. As the Lisbon treaty is still new, it is too early to observe its effects on the daily activities but will no falter to reveal itself during the upcoming years.

On the other hand, the “personal initiatives” have reached unregistered records before this day; for example, during the exact same amount of time, one will observe an increase by 10% of the written statements and by 35% for the written questions. This result, may be explained whether by a “mandate individualisation” or by the fact that MEPs have understood the workings of the studies evaluating their activity and react by taking them into account in their daily work.

As for the monthly presence in plenary, only three MEPs see their rates below 50% and less than 40 do not reach 70%. One will notice a tremendous increase in the overall regular attendance to plenary. Concerning political groups The parliamentary workload is shared out according to the size of the political groups (Hondt’s rule) and so gives more credit to the biggest groups. Although, the distribution is balanced when weighted by the number of deputies within each group which underlines the dynamics for the smallest among them. One will point out that extremist groups and euro-scepticals fully use their speech time allocation in the assembly (in which they concentrate the core of their participation). In spite of that, they do not directly act on the legislative works lead in the hemicycle.

Concerning the French MEPs

For what the French deputies are concerned, they globally have a sufficient presence rate in plenary, more than during the last legislature. This improvement may be explained by the fact that a large portion of them is renewing their mandate. This deeper involvement is not yet visible in terms of parliamentary activity. Lessons of the themes discussed by the political groups.

The groups are close to their “classic intervention issues”:
- Labour, Citizenship, Protection for the S&D
- Market, Economy and Consumer for the PPE
- Europe, Right, Market for the ADLE
- Environment, Development and Transport for the Greens
- Voter, Liberty and Security for the ECR.
- The economic crisis crosses every group.

The MEPs discuss it mainly on the protection point of view.

Conclusion: The Parliament has to pursue its efforts in terms of transparency The main problem in evaluating the deputies’ performance is that several important data are still not in the public area in spite of the resolution of the European Parliament voted on January 14th 2009, concerning file access.

Several information are not available to the public such as deputies appointed “contre-rapporteur” or coordinators who establish the groups’ positions on varied issues. Concerning the presence rate, if the political groups still deny access to their presence files in meetings, the EP continues to publish incorrect and incomplete presence files in parliamentary commissions where the entire preparation works are lead on texts to be presented in plenary. It committed itself to do it before the elections in June 2009 but it is still unfinished. Finally, the roll-call votes represent only 29,7% of the total votes and are published in the minutes of the EP.

The extent of this procedure would induce a better understanding of the deputies’ activity, their loyalty to the political groups, etc. The EP is still, and by far, one of the most transparent assemblies in Europe. This first year of parliamentary works shows that it has to pursue its efforts to continually and efficiently render the activities during the legislature. The Lisbon treaty has increased the EP’s and MEPs’ powers. It must increase its efforts to give better feedbacks.

Download the complete study here

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