In 2015, the European Commission launched the Energy Union Strategy, a project meant to coordinate the transformation of European energy supply and to provide secure, sustainable, competitive, and affordable energy to European citizens. Two years later, the Commission reports that “the EU is well on track to meet its 2020 climate and energy targets”. Soon, the European Parliament and the Member States will decide on many of the Energy-related legislative proposals.
To bring more clarity to the political landscape in which these decisions are made, we decided to find out who are the most influential European Parliamentarians in this area, but also in what way they tip the balance of power. Importantly, we took into account the actual decisions made, not merely opinions or carefully crafted statements. Below you will find the methodology and the most significant findings. If you have questions or you want to obtain the full research, do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected].
Who Is Influential and Why?
To measure influence on European Energy Policy, we started looking at visible indicators such as rapporteurship (of all kinds, weighing them accordingly), control of key positions such as political coordinators, chairs and vice-chairs of the relevant parliamentary committee. However, we also looked at less visible indicators, such as actual participation in decision-making, winning rates when issues are put to a vote, as well as the level of endorsement an MEP enjoys for his/her ideas from the political group it is part of (measured by an indicator called consensus). Lastly, we also weighed in data related to membership of MEPs in interest groups lobbying the Energy Policy.
The algorithm we used to analyse the data has been developed with the help of more than 200 experts in EU affairs, who suggested criteria and weighed their importance. We adapted it to fit the peculiarities of the policy area under scrutiny (a more detailed description of the algorithm is placed in the annex to this report).
Secondly, we also conducted an objective measurement of the positions of MEPs on whether there should be a quicker or a slower transition to renewable sources of energy. This part of the study is based on 15 relevant votes, some of which address more controversial issues, hence highlighting the differences among MEPs (list of votes in annex). In total, we analised over 30.000 pieces of political data regarding activities undertaken and positions expressed by the EU Parliamentarians.
Before moving on, it is important to note that MEPs who are found to support a slower transition to renewables should not be seen as opposed to these sources of energy as such (as they often do support the less radical/ambitious proposals in this direction). Instead, these MEPs are those who believe that more attention should be paid to other considerations, such as the costs for the economy on the short term, employment in vulnerable sectors, geopolitical consequences, etc.
Below are the details of the most important findings at MEP, national party and country levels.
Northern and Central Europeans Are the Most Influential on Energy Policy
Building on the data that assesses individual MEPs, we calculated which national delegations are, on average, the most influential. With only few exceptions, MEPs from Central and Northern Europe have more clout on shaping EU’s energy strategy than their colleagues from Southern and Western Europe.
Note: the infographic below is based on average influence per MEP, in order to factor out the strength of the national delegation as such and reveal actual national trends (when the number of MEPs per country is factored in, then the overall influence by country gets in line with the size of the country, e.g. Germany is the most influential, followed by the UK, France and Italy).
One of the most prominent factors in this regard is the higher perception of Russia as a threat across these Member States. In fact, one of the objectives of the Energy Union is the reduction of EU’s dependence on Russia’s gas supplies. This dependence is higher in the case of Central European countries and the Baltics, compared to Western European States.
At the other end of the spectrum, with the smallest influence (average per MEP) on European Energy policy in the European Parliament, there are the Western and Southern delegations.
Polish, Czech and Slovakian Politicians Are the Most Conservative on the Transition to Renewables
When looking at the positions on Energy Policy by country, we found that the most influential delegations are divided when it comes to supporting the transition to renewables.
On the one hand, Nordic Parliamentarians are joined by the Southern delegations in their higher support for incentivizing renewables. Nordic MEPs are used to high environmental standards at home and are interested and willing to promote them at the European level, while Southern support for renewables stems from the green credentials of the rising anti-austerity parties (Syriza, Podemos, 5 Star Movement, the Portuguese left).
On the other hand, all post-communist delegations (except for the Estonians) hold a conservative stance on energy policy. Opposition to a quicker transition is particularly strong among the Polish, Czech and Slovakian Parliamentarians, mostly because of the higher reliance of their countries on coal mines.
Top 10 Most Influential MEPs on Energy Policy
Let’s look at the individual European Parliamentarians who hold the most power in shaping Energy policies and the activities that placed them ahead of their peers:
- The Luxembourgish Green Claude Turmes (Greens/EFA) is one of the founding members of the European Parliamentary Network on Energy Solutions, as well as a patron of European Council for an Energy Efficient Economy. He is the political coordinator of the Greens/EFA in ITRE. He is the rapporteur on the Governance of the Energy Union. He was also shadow rapporteur for the Greens on the measures to safeguard the security of gas supply, as well as the European Energy Union.
- Member of Polish Civic Platform, Jerzy Buzek (EPP) is the Chair of the dedicated Committee on Industry, Research and Energy. He is the current President of the European Energy Forum, a group promoting debate on energy-related issues. He is also the rapporteur on the measures to safeguard the security of gas supply.
- Member of the Danish Social Liberal Party, Morten Helveg Petersen (ALDE/ADLE) is one of the founding members of the European Parliamentary Network on Energy Solutions, as well as one of Vice-Chairs of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy. He was appointed as the shadow rapporteur for ALDE on reports related to the European Energy Union, the EU strategy on heating and cooling and many others.
- Member of the Latvian Unity Party, Krisjanis Karins (EPP) is the political coordinator of EPP in the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and was the shadow rapporteur for the EPP on European statistics on natural gas and electricity prices.
- Member of the Italian 5 Star Movement, Dario Tamburrano (EFDD) was the rapporteur on energy efficiency labeling, as well as the shadow rapporteur for EFDD on several files, such as the EU strategy on heating and cooling and the ones related to energy security.
- Member of the Danish People’s Conservative Party, Bendt Bendtsen (EPP) is a member of the European Forum for Renewable Energy Sources and rapporteur on the Energy performance of buildings. He is also opinion rapporteur on Member State/third country intergovernmental agreements in the field of energy.
- Member of the UK’s Labour Party, Theresa Griffin (S&D) was the rapporteur on the file related to energy consumption and she is a member of the Board of Presidents of the European Forum for Renewable Energy Sources.
- Member of the Czech Social Democratic Party, Miroslav Poche (S&D) was the shadow rapporteur for S&D on the European energy security strategy and on the Implementation report on the Energy Efficiency Directive.
- Member of the Polish Labour Union, Adam Gierek (S&D) is the shadow rapporteur on the Energy Efficiency Directive, as well as the EU strategy on heating and cooling.
- Member of the German Christian Social Union, Angelika Niebler (EPP) is one of the founding members of European Parliamentary Network on Energy Solutions, as well as a member of the Energy Forum.
Champions of Renewables vs Gradualists
As in the case of the national delegations, who holds influence tells only half of the story. We also must understand how MEPs shape the policies.
The European Parliamentarians who are both strongly supportive of the switch to renewables and influential on energy policy are Claude Turmes, Morten Helveg Petersen and Dario Tamburrano. At the other end of the spectrum, Jerzy Buzek, Krisjanis Karins and Bendt Bendtsen are advocating for a more moderate approach.
While the temptation is to give all power to the ones listed above, there is a hidden switch in the hands of the undecided, or those who shift their position (for/against) depending on the nuances or the timing of the decisions. Although the leading MEPs are usually the ones putting forward the proposals and amendments, at the end of the day it is the political majorities that adopt or reject them. These politicians, which we have called the kingmakers, have the potential to tilt the balance on important decisions and whomever wants to understand and shape European Energy Policy must be able to look beyond the surface and identify them.
If you’d like to get a full picture of who the most influential MEPs are and their positions, contact us at [email protected].
Greens and the Far Left Want a Quicker Transition to Renewable Energy
Among the political families, the Greens/EFA and GUE-GNL always voted in favour of radical far-reaching measures to replace traditional energy sources with renewables at an accelerated pace. The centrist groups, S&D, ALDE, EPP have a more moderate stance (in different degrees). On the less progressive side, the Conservative ECR has always defended the need to ensure a smoother energy transition. The Eurosceptic groups are more divided on this issues and their position is blurred by the many different national sensitivities of their members.
National Parties: Greens and the 5 Star Movement, the Most Progressive
Not surprisingly, when analysing by national party delegation, the Green parties from Western Europe are the most supportive of a quick transition to renewable energy sources. Also, the Italian 5 Star Movement, led by former comedian Beppe Grillo, is resolutely backing the introduction of more incentives for the switch to renewables.
On the opposite side, we found the two largest parties in Poland, Law and Justice (in government in Warsaw) and the Civic Platform, who are strongly opposed to phasing out traditional sources of energy such as coal. Also, the Eurosceptic Danish People’s Party, the British Tories and the Italian Northern League are working to slow down the transition process.
The Most Influential European Parliamentarians from Each Member State
Here is the map of the most influential MEPs on Energy Policy from each member state. If you want to get your voice heard on important issues influencing the industry and your day to day life, these MEPs are probably a good place to start from, although, as seen above, it needs many more to build significant political will.
For mapping of EU Parliamentarians’ and governments’ actual positions (based on actions undertaken in the EU decision-making process, not mere statements) or forecast of EU policies contact us at [email protected].
About us: VoteWatch Europe is the think tank most followed by the Members of the European Parliament, according to an independent study. Our reports are also quoted frequently by European and international institutions and the world-wide media.
Annex I: List of votes for the views’ assessment
Annex II: algorithm used for measuring the influence of individual MEPs