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July 2014 EP plenary Newsletter: EC/Juncker, Latvia/Euro, Russia/Ukraine, EP committees and more

In this edition:

1. Martin Schulz re-elected as EP President
2. EP Committees' Bureaus elected
3. EP elects Juncker as new European Commission President
4. Super Grand Coalition EPP-S&D-ALDE pushes through Commission's reshuffle
5. Large EP majority welcomes Lithuania as 19th member of the Eurozone
6. MEPs call on Russia to genuinely support Ukraine's peace plan
7. Stronger measures to fight youth unemployment
8. MEPs approve a resolution urging a ceasefire in the Gaza strip


1. Martin Schulz re-elected as EP President

Following the 2014 EP elections (see results), and the constitution of the new Parliament, MEPs elected the EP President and the EP's Bureau. German S&D MEP Martin Schulz was re-elected as EP President for the first half of the 8th EP term. The vote was by secret ballot and Schulz was elected by 409 votes. Other candidates: Sajjad Karim (ECR, UK) 101 votes, Pablo Iglesias (GUE/NGL, Spain) 51 votes and Ulrike Lunacek (Greens/EFA, Austria) 51 votes.

MEPs also elected the EP's Bureau, which is the body that lays down rules for Parliament, draws up the EP's preliminary draft budget and decides all administrative, staff and organisational matters. The Bureau is composed by the EP President, 14 Vice-Presidents and 5 Quaestors. This is the composition of the EP Bureau for 2014-2017:


2. EP Committees' Bureaus elected

Following the election of the EP Bureau, the 20 EP Committees and 2 sub-Committees elected their Bureaus for 2014-2017, formed by a Chair and 4 Vice-Chairs each. The Bureaus were elected by secret ballot. This is their composition:



3. EP elects Juncker as new European Commission President

In an unprecedented vote since the entry into force of the Lisbon treaty, the European Parliament elected former Luxembourgish Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker as the new President of the European Commission. The vote was by secret ballot and Juncker was elected by 422 votes in favour, 250 against, 47 abstentions and 10 void (blank or spoilt).

This concludes the new procedure inaugurated by the 2014 EP elections, through which each European political party nominated a lead candidate to preside the European Commission.

Now Juncker has to select 27 commissioners-designate (one per EU Member State), who will be scrutinised by the European Parliament during September 2014. The EP shall confirm the new College as a whole, on a public vote. The new European Commission should start working on 1 November 2014.


4. Super Grand Coalition EPP-S&D-ALDE pushes through Commission's reshuffle

The European Parliament voted in favour of the appointment of four interim members of the European Commission. These will replace the outgoing Commissioners, who have become Member of the European Parliament, until the end of October 2014. The new Commissioners are Jyrki Katainen (Finland) for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro, Jacek Dominik (Poland) for Financial Programming and the Budget, Ferdinando Nelli Feroci (Italy) for Industry and Entrepreneurship, and Martine Reicherts (Luxembourg) for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship.

The resolution passed by 421 votes in favour, 170 against and 32 abstentions. The winning majority was composed of the EPP, S&D and ALDE groups. Before the vote, the Greens/EFA and ECR groups requested a separate vote on the four interim Commissioners, as they had concerns over the appointment of Jyrki Katainen. The request was rejected by the hemicycle and therefore the two groups decided to vote against the resolution together with GUE/NGL and EFDD members.

Click here to see how each MEP voted.


5. Large EP majority welcomes Lithuania as 19th member of the Eurozone

The EP approved the resolution endorsing the adoption of the Euro by Lithuania on 1 January 2015. Lithuania was able to meet all the eligibility criteria needed to enter the Eurozone: average inflation of 0.6; a general government deficit in 2013 of 2.1% of GDP and a gross debt ratio of 39.4% of GDP.

The resolution passed by 545 votes in favour, 116 against and 34 abstentions with GUE-NGL and EFDD members voting against or abstaining.

Click here to see how each MEP voted.

The EU Parliament has a consultative role in this process, while the final decision will be taken at the General Affairs Council on 23 July 2014.


6. MEPs call on Russia to genuinely support Ukraine's peace plan

The EP adopted a resolution calling on Russia to back Ukrainian peace plan, to respect the ceasefire and stressing the fundamental right of Ukrainian people to freely determine their country's economic and political future. MEPs ask the Council and the Member States to impose further sanctions and to reduce EU's dependence on Russian gas as well as to set up a collective ban of sale of arms to the country. They call on the EU Institutions to have a stronger presence and visibility in the dialogue.

The text passed by 497 votes in favour, 121 against and 21 abstentions, with GUE/NGL and EFDD members voting against.

Click here to see how each MEP voted.


7. Stronger measures to fight youth unemployment

The EP voted by an extensive majority a resolution calling for stronger measures to fight youth unemployment, comprising the introduction of common minimum standards for the quality of apprenticeships, decent wages and access to employment services.

MEPs ask for the efficient monitoring of the implementation of the Youth Guarantee and for the increase of its overall budget. They urge national governments to reform education and training standards in order to increase employability, to reduce administrative burdens to encourage job creation and to enhance free movement of labour in the EU.

The resolution passed by 502 votes in favour, 112 against and 22 abstentions. Members of ECR, GUE/NGL and EFDD groups were split over this vote. Moreover, amendments asking for putting an end to austerity measures were rejected, and a large majority of the S&D members abstained on these votes.

Click here to see how each MEP voted.


8. MEPs approve a resolution urging a ceasefire in the Gaza strip

The EP called on Israelis and Palestinians for an immediate ceasefire and to resume direct peace talks.

The resolution passed by 459 votes in favour, 113 against and 60 abstentions with Greens/EFA and GUE/NGL groups voting against and most EFDD members abstaining.

Click here to see how each MEP voted.


For more information, contact us at secretatiat@votewatcheurope.eu or +32 2 318 11 88.

PRESS RELEASE: Council of the EU: UK and Germany vote against each other most often - VoteWatch Europe study

PRESS RELEASE


VoteWatch Europe study:

Council of the EU: UK and Germany vote against each other most often

Brussels, 11 June 2014



Against the background of the debates concerning the nomination of the next European Commission President by the European Council, a study undertaken by VoteWatch Europe shows that among the 28 EU Member States, the United Kingdom and Germany have voted against each other most often in the EU Council of Ministers. Data collected by VoteWatch Europe in the period July 2009 - May 2014 illustrates that these two countries have disagreed on 16% of the formal votes cast in the Council.

The disagreements emerged mainly on issues regarding constitutional affairs, foreign policy, agriculture, budget and employment.


Voting in the Council

In the constitutional affairs field, Germany supported legislative pieces such as a Regulation on the citizens' initiative or a Regulation on the mechanisms for control by Member States of the Commission's exercise of implementing powers, while the UK abstained from voting on them.

When it comes to budget legislation, the differences were sharper. For example, while Germany voted in favour of the new draft budget of the EU for 2013 in December 2013, the UK voted against (alongside Austria, Sweden and the Netherlands).

On issues regarding the EU's foreign policy, the two countries voted differently on pieces of legislation such as the Regulation establishing an Instrument contributing to stability and peace as well as on the Regulation establishing a European Neighbourhood Instrument (the UK voted against in both cases, while Germany voted in favour).

These two big EU countries are also the ones who have found themselves in minority most often when voting in the Council. The UK government was in minority by far most frequently, voting differently than the majority on 73 occasions, out of 629 votes it participated in (12%), while the German government did so in 37 out of 663 votes (5.5%).


Election of the President of the Commission in the Council

The European Council nominates the President of the European Commission by qualified majority (QMV). QMV is reached if a majority of Member States (15) vote in favour and if a minimum of 260 votes, out of the total 352, are cast in favour.

In qualified majority voting, each Member State has a certain number of votes. The weighting of votes is set out in the treaties and reflects the size of population of each Member State. Both Germany and the United Kingdom have 29 votes each. See here the weighting of votes in the Council.

Following the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in December 2009, a new element entered the discussion on the election of the European Commission President. The Treaty on European Union states that the European Council, taking into account the elections to the EP, shall propose (by QMV) to the European Parliament a candidate for President of the European Commission. In this context, five European political parties (EPP, PES, ALDE, the Greens and the Party of the European Left) chose their own candidates (Spitzenkandidaten) for the European Commission Presidency. The EPP won the greatest number of seats, which put former Luxembourg's Primer Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, their lead candidate, in the position to be considered as a candidate for the post.

Jean-Claude Juncker received the backing of the EP's Conference of Presidents to start negotiations to seek a majority in the European Parliament. However, in spite of the wide support received from the Parliament (all EP groups except ECR and EFD), the European Council, at its informal meeting on 27 May 2014, did not back Juncker to start negotiations.

According to media reports, apart from the backing of the EP groups, Juncker can also count on several EU governments, his most prominent supporter being Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany. Moreover, Juncker counts not only on the support of Christian-Democrat governments, but also from the Austrian and Romanian socialist governments.

However, the support received might not be enough to secure a winning majority by QMV in the European Council, as some Member States, led by UK, oppose the idea of nominating one of the Spitzenkandidaten, questioning the legal basis of the EP involvement in the process of selecting the European Commission President. The UK, Sweden and Hungary have publicly stated their opposition to Jean-Claude Juncker and/or the Spitzenkandidaten process. The Netherlands and Italy are thought to be sceptical. Together these countries wield enough votes in Council to block Juncker.

The nominee for European Commission President is likely to be agreed at the 26-27 June 2014 European Council meeting. The European Parliament is expected to approve or reject this proposal at the 14-17 July 2014 Plenary session.


For media inquiries please contact Elisa Irlandese at VoteWatch Europe: +32 2 318 1188. Email: secretariat@votewatcheurope.eu


Note on Council votes:

VoteWatch Europe has collected data on the voting records of all 28 EU member state governments in the Council from July 2009 to the present (more than 500 final votes as at April 2014). It should be noted that the Council currently releases information only on final votes, at ministerial level, on legislative and budgetary issues. For this reason, the data presented on this website is limited to these decisions.

The VoteWatch.eu website shows all legislation passed by the Council; how each government has voted on each piece of legislation; who voted on behalf of that government; as well as more detailed information about the dossier (Council configurations in which it was debated and voted on, number of readings, working groups involved in preparing the legislation, etc.). The data is aggregated to produce statistics on coalition patterns between Member States, to compare, pair-wise, how frequently governments voted against each other, and whether or not individual governments often find themselves in a minority.

The Council voting data is compared to votes on the same piece of legislation in the European Parliament, which allows users to see, for example, to what extent the policy preferences of a government were followed by MEPs from the governing party or coalition.

We publish new Council voting data as soon as it becomes available. It is collected manually from the Council website (minutes, fiches de vote and summaries of legislative acts), PreLex and the EU's Who-is-Who. We also use data from ParlGov for the dates and the party-political composition of EU governments. As the Council does not publish all of its information immediately following the vote, it can take some time for full information on a vote to be available on this website. As long as votes are processed manually, errors may occur. We will correct any errors as soon as we are made aware of them.

VoteWatch Europe/PollWatch2014 press clipping 20-21 May 2014

The final PollWatch2014 prediction published on Tuesday 20 May 2014 gives a victory to the EPP by 217 seats to 201 for S&D. On the basis of this final prediction, VoteWatch Europe analysed what groups could form in the new EP. Find this analysis here: http://www.votewatch.eu/en/news.html#4002

Find here a press clipping with articles from Brussels, national and worldwide media mentioning PollWatch2014 and VoteWatch Europe on 20-21 May.

For media inquiries regarding the final PollWatch2014 prediction/VoteWatch analysis on political groups in the new EP, please contact Elisa Irlandese at VoteWatch Europe: +32 2 318 1188. Email: secretariat@votewatcheurope.eu

What groups will form in the new EP? VoteWatch Europe analysis based on final PollWatch2014 prediction

VoteWatch Europe analysis: what groups will form in the new EP?


Brussels, 20 May 2014


by Simon Hix, Doru Frantescu, Joan Manuel Lanfranco Pari and Michiel van Hulten*

With one day to go until voting starts, today's PollWatch2014 prediction has EPP on the verge of victory: 217 to 201 for S&D. The updated PollWatch2014 summary tables can be found here. Based on today's PollWatch2014 prediction the VoteWatch Europe team has considered what might happen in terms of the changing make-up of the political groups after the elections. This is by definition a speculative exercise as not all political parties have made their intentions known.

Most significantly we expect a new group to form - the European Alliance for Freedom (EAF), from the transnational party with that name - probably comprising FN from France, PVV from the Netherlands, FPÖ from Austria, VB from Belgium, LN from Italy, SNS from Slovakia, and SD from Sweden. It takes at least 25 MEPs from 7 countries to form a new group - we think EAF will reach that threshold.

ANO from the Czech Republic is very likely to join ALDE. UPyD from Spain might also fit more comfortably in ALDE than in the NI (non-attached). Despite the poor voting record match, we think N-VA from Belgium could join ECR, as some media have been speculating, partly because the alternatives are even harder to envisage. DFP from Denmark and Perussuomalaiset from Finland could also join ECR, but for now we assume that they will remain in EFD.

On the other hand, given their growing Euroscepticism, M5S from Italy is more likely to join Nigel Farage in EFD than sit with the more pro-European Greens/EFA. The politically cohesive Greens/EFA group may also not welcome such a large maverick contingent among their ranks, and as the largest delegation, M5S would oust the German Greens from their leading role.

The overall parliament would then look like this: 



As for other parties labelled as 'non-attached' in PollWatch2014 forecasts, we assume the German Pirates could join the GUE-NGL group (as the Austrian Pirates run together with the Communist Party of Austria in the electoral Alliance Europa Anders). The ALDE group could also receive new members from the German Freie Wähler and Greek To Potami. Other parties joining the EFD group could be the Polish Kongres Nowej Prawicy and the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party.

Compared to the outgoing Parliament, the new Parliament would be more polarised: with more MEPs on the radical left and on the right of the EPP. In this scenario the three potential groups to the right of EPP would have enough MEPs from a sufficient number of member states to form. EFD could emerge as the fourth largest group, GUE-NGL as fifth, ECR sixth, Greens/EFA seventh, and the new EAF group  in eighth place. This is all speculation of course. A lot of tough bargaining between parties and their prospective groups will follow the European elections. We may not know the final composition of the groups until the last week of June.


For media inquiries regarding the forecast and interviews with the researchers please contact Elisa Irlandese at VoteWatch Europe: +32 2 318 1188. Email: secretariat@votewatcheurope.eu

Annex: allocation of NI parties according to VoteWatch Europe

National party Member State Assigned EP group/NI
Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs Austria EAF
Vlaams Belang Belgium EAF
Bulgaria bez Tsenzura Bulgaria NI
Savez za Hrvatsku Croatia NI
Akce nespokojených občanů Czech Republic ALDE
Front national France EAF
Alternative für Deutschland Germany EFD
Piraten Germany GUE-NGL
Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands Germany NI
Freie Wähler Germany ALDE
To Potami Greece ALDE
Chrysi Aygi Greece NI
Jobbik Hungary NI
Independent (Nessa Childers) Ireland NI
Movimento 5 Stelle Italy EFD
Zalo un Zemnieku savieniba Latvia 1 for EPP & 1 for Greens/EFA
No sirds Latvijai Latvia NI
Partij voor de Vrijheid Netherlands EAF
Kongres Nowej Prawicy Poland EFD
Slovenska Nacionalna Stranka Slovenia NI
List Verjamem Slovenia NI
Unión, Progreso y Democracia Spain ALDE
Ciudadanos - Partido de la Ciudadanía Spain NI
Sverigedemokraterna Sweden EAF
Democratic Unionist Party United Kingdom EFD



* Dr Simon Hix is Professor of European and Comparative Politics and Head of the Department of Government at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and Chairman and co-founder of VoteWatch Europe. Doru Frantescu is Policy Director and co-founder at VoteWatch Europe. Joan Manuel Lanfranco Pari is Policy and Communications Manager at VoteWatch Europe. Michiel van Hulten is Managing Director at VoteWatch Europe.

PRESS RELEASE: Front National and PVV vote against each other half of the time - VoteWatch Europe end of term scorecard

PRESS RELEASE

VoteWatch Europe end-of-term scorecard:

Front National and PVV vote against each other half of the time

Brussels, 20 May 2014

Euro-sceptic and far-right parties voted together just over 50% of roll-call votes during the 7th European Parliament (2009-2014), according to a VoteWatch Europe analysis of the 2009-2014 European Parliament term published today. The French Front national and the Dutch Partij Voor de Vrijheid (PVV), possible allies in a new far-right EP group, have voted against each other 49% of times. In fact, the PVV matches more with UKIP rather than FN, as these two parties have voted together 67% of times.

However, an analysis of the voting matches between these seven national parties shows little compatibility. On average, these national parties have a 51% voting match. The best match is between the French FN and Austrian FPÖ, both non-attached parties, which agreed in a proportion of 86%. All the other scores are significantly lower, below 70%.

The research shows that the French Front national and the Dutch Partij Voor de Vrijheid (PVV), possible allies in a new far-right EP group, have voted against each other 49% of times. In fact, it turns out that for the PVV a better match would be UKIP rather than FN, as these two parties have voted together 67% of times.

Non-attached parties included in this policy brief are expected to consider forming a new EP group - the European Alliance for Freedom (EAF), from the transnational party with that name. It takes at least 25 MEPs from 7 Member States to form a new EP group, and if the predictions will materialise, EAF will reach that threshold.

In the key policy areas, things don't differ considerably. A look at the civil liberties, internal market and economic and monetary affairs legislation fields proves that the matching scores between these parties are low, with some notable exceptions. On civil liberties, justice and home affairs, the best matching score is between FN and FPÖ (92%), but on average, the seven national parties matched 55%, a slightly higher rate than the overall one.

When it comes to internal market issues, the best match is again between FPÖ and FN (89%). A very low match was registered between UKIP and SNS (12%). On average, the match was of 44% in the internal market and consumer protection policy area.

On economic and monetary affairs, the matching scores in this policy area are identical to the overall ones (51%). The best match was between FN and FPÖ (86%), while the lowest match was between UKIP and SNS (33%).

In comparison, national parties from mainstream EP groups vote together more often. In the EPP group, the French Union pour un mouvement populaire (UMP) had a very high match with the German Christlich Demokratische Union (CDU) of 95%. In the S&D Group, the British Labour Party had a match of 85% with the French Parti socialiste (PS) and 89% with the German Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (SPD). In the ALDE Group, the British Liberal Democrats had a 90% match with the German Freie Demokratische Partei (FDP) and 85% with the French Mouvement Démocrate. In the Greens/EFA Group, the German Bündnis 90/Die Grünen had a very high match with the French Europe Ecologie Les Verts, of 96%. In the ECR Group, the British Conservatives matched with the Czech Občanská demokratická strana (ODS) 92% and with the Polish Prawo i Sprawiedliwość (PiS) 85%.

The full study can be downloaded here. A statistical annex includes the matching percentages between different parties for 2009-2014 roll-call votes.


For media inquiries please contact Elisa Irlandese at VoteWatch Europe: +32 2 318 1188. Email: secretariat@votewatcheurope.eu.