Key lessons from the 26-29 October EP plenary

by Doru P. Frantescu, director & co-founder of VoteWatch Europe (@dorufrantescu)

During the plenary (or part-session) of the European Parliament between 26-29 October we saw some very interesting trends in the behavior of the political groups and which also explain the results of the votes. Here are just a few.

How cohesive has been each of the political groups?

Firstly, the EPP experienced a much greater internal discipline (or solidarity) than in the previous part-session. Out of the total 358 roll-call votes (a record high) that took place during the 3 days of voting at the end of October, in was only rarely that EPP Members deviated from the pre-established group line. As a result, EPP was the most cohesive group, with a score of 98% cohesion. Continue Reading

EU’s macroeconomic policy: no clear way forward, as political families disagree

by Doru P. Frantescu, director & co-founder of VoteWatch Europe (@dorufrantescu)

EU’s economy is still not doing great and new measures need to be taken to unleash its enormous potential, this is what the Members of the European Parliament agree on. They also agree that the EU should take a more active role to coordinate the economic policies of the 28 EU Member States. Continue Reading

Pro-European EP groups reverse the cuts made by Member States to the EU budget for 2016

The resolution on the 2016 EU draft budget restoring all the cuts proposed by the Council (Member States’ governments) was adopted by 434 votes in favour, 185 against and 80 abstentions.

The three main pro-EU groups were able to push it through. Indeed, the Christian-Democrat group EPP, the Socialist group S&D and the Liberal group ALDE voted in favour of the motion. On the contrary, the Conservative group ECR, the far-right group of Marine Le Pen and the Eurosceptic group of Nigel Farage all opposed the text. Notably (but not unusually), the British delegation of the Socialist group (Labour Party) voted against the line of the group and therefore against a bigger EU budget. Continue Reading

Increase of the number of judges of the EU’s court to 56 approved by the EU Parliamentarians

EU Parliamentarians voted in favour of increasing the number of Judges at the General Court of the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) and changes in the structure of the institution, with the incorporation of the Civil Service Tribunal into the General Court. The number of judges will raise from 21 to 56 by 2019 at the end of a three-stage process. The aim is to cut the accumulation of cases and the excessive duration of proceedings before the General Court. Continue Reading

Who voted what on “net neutrality”?

Key references on net neutrality were eliminated from a European Parliament report voted on 27 October.

Net neutrality is the idea that data should be ferried from place to place as quickly as possible, regardless of what it is, is how most people assume the internet works.

However, some ISP would like to be able to decide to prioritise certain types of data over others by charging the producers of such data a fee to make sure their content gets delivered promptly. Continue Reading

EU Parliamentarians agree on the damage of Volkswagen emissions scandal. They disagree on the measures to be taken

VW Golf TDI clean diesel

The European Parliament adopted its position on the recent Volkswagen emissions manipulation revelations and pressed the Commission to adopt and implement the new Real Driving Emission (RDE) test cycle as a matter of urgency.

The text strongly condemns the fraud by the automotive manufacturer and regrets that these excess emissions caused harmful effects on human health and environmental damage. The EU parliamentarians underlined the urgency to restore the confidence of consumers by the Commission and the Member States through concrete actions. Continue Reading

COP21: EP centre-left majority sets the mandate for EP delegation to “ambitious legally binding agreement”

The EU Parliament adopted a resolution constituting the mandate for its delegation to COP 21, the UN climate change conference that will take place in Paris in December 2015. The adopted text urges the EU to demand a legally binding and ambitious agreement. Although the final document received cross-party support, key differences remain between the political families, which sets the stage for further difficult negotiations.

Concretely, MEPs coming from the leftist groups and ALDE formed a majority in favour of more ambitious legally-binding targets. Their position is that the EU should lead the way and go ahead with 3 binding targets, an energy-efficiency target of 40%, a renewable energy target of 30% by 2030 and a greenhouse-gas (GHG) reduction target of at least 40% (compared to 1990 levels). These forces have also asked for a roadmap to completely eliminate greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050.

On the other hand, the conservative forces, EPP and ECR, prefer a more gradual approach that would allow various economic sectors more time to adjust without losing competitiveness. EPP and ECR proposed that the full elimination of CO2 emissions should be envisaged by the end of the century, as 2050 is considered an unrealistic deadline. Moreover, the centre-right euro-parliamentarians are of the opinion that the EU should be more cautious in establishing its own binding targets in the absence of a legally-binding agreement at global level, since the lack of a level-playing field would put the European industry (and its jobs) at a disadvantage when trying to sell its products and services on the global market.  This view was not shared by the left and ALDE, who currently rally a majority in the European Parliament on environmental matters, and who are more inclined to believe that if Europe takes the lead this would put pressure on the other global players to do the same.

Through this report, the EU Parliament also calls on the Member States to urgently take binding and concrete measures against climate change and pull their weight towards an ambitious and legally binding agreement in Paris this December. However, the voting behavior of some key delegations of MEPs whose parties are governing in their countries seems to indicate that these governments have reservations. Concretely, Angela Merkel’s German CDU/CSU delegation, David Cameron’s Conservative delegation, Polish Law&Justice Party (of the new prime-minister Beata Szydlo) and Mariano Rajoy’s Partido Popular delegation all voted for a more gradual approach towards achieving environmental objectives.

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What future for Poland? Special VoteWatch analysis

(click here for the version in Polish).

On 25th of October the Polish citizens will decide what future they want for their country. Their choice will undoubtedly impact the rest of Europe too: Poland is the 6th largest Member State (out of 28) and has one of the fastest growing economies on the continent. Moreover, apart from the UK, Poland is the largest non-eurozone member and holds a key geostrategic position at the EU’s border with the troubled Ukraine.

The positions that the Polish government will have in the following years on issues such as economic and political union, foreign and security policy, energy policy, environmental agenda, asylum policy and other key topics may shift the balance of power in the EU Council in one direction or the other. The upcoming Polish elections will determine which positions Poland will take on these important fields.

The infographic below shows the similarities and the differences between the views of the two leading competing parties, shaping two alternative scenarios for the future of Poland – the winner will impose its views as the “position of Warsaw” in Europe. Continue Reading

Manfred Weber (EPP) vs. Gianni Pitella (S&D): allies or rivals?

Manfred Weber and Gianni Pittella are the leaders of the two biggest political factions in the European Parliament, the groups of the European People’s Party and of the Socialists and Democrats, respectively.

Many observers have argued that there are few differences between the views of these two, a situation which acts as a disincentive for the European citizens to come to vote, since they can’t see why an option is better than the other. Continue Reading