This analysis is part of the Influence Index: a new data-driven ranking of MEPs by VoteWatch Europe and BCW Brussels. It is the first MEP ranking to measure influence through two crucial dimensions, namely:
– Political influence: the ability to change legislation, win votes, and shape debates;
– Social influence: the ability to reach people, shift the public conversation, and build a community of support.
The following report sheds light on the top MEPs by political influence. An overview of the full can be found in the dedicated report.
Note: The analysis uses data and insights from the one-year period up to August 2020. There have since been some changes in European parliamentary seats and leadership positions.
The start of the new legislative cycle was dogged by delays and disruptive events (most notably the Covid-19 pandemic), which impacted negatively on the visibility of the new MEPs. Yet, the past year already provided us with enough data to indicate which MEPs are the most likely to play a prominent role in the upcoming legislative debates. For this reason, we decided that the time is ripe to assess which MEPs are currently best positioned to influence EU policy-making in the coming years.
Our findings show that political influence remains so far concentrated among the senior members, despite the high share of new MEPs, which is understandable, since many newcomers have still to fully grasp the nitty-gritty of EP politics. Yet, we are also witnessing the rise of new stars, who are already well-positioned to play a more important role in the future.
The study also reveals which national groups have been punching above or below their weight when it comes to influencing European policies through the EP. We have clearly witnessed some changes compared to our previous assessments, such as Luxembourg and Portugal gaining substantial influence compared to the previous term, while other patterns have remained the same, such as Finnish MEPs punching above their weight when it comes to getting leadership positions.
This report provides the results of our objective and data-based potential of political influence (based on MEPs formal and informal leadership positions, committee membership, voting behaviour, and the actual legislative work, among others; to read the full methodology, click here).
Note to the reader
1) This report is not a normative assessment of the influence of MEPs on policy debates in the EU. This assessment should not be read as suggesting that influential MEPs are better politicians than their colleagues. In this report, influence is a neutral term, which indicates to what extent an MEP shapes EU policy, without considering the (ideological) direction in which that policy is shaped.
However, if you are interested in the direction MEPs influence EU legislation, check out the new VoteWatch analytical tool that identifies the kingmakers and swing-voters that can prove crucial in advancing your policy agenda. For more information regarding this analytical tool or for custom analysis on the policy area that interests you, contact us at [email protected]heurope.eu.
2) The level of influence of each and every MEP changes continuously due to several factors. These range from the internal dynamics of the EP (position reshuffles, rapporteurship appointments, etc), national politics (whether there is an election looming ahead, a change in the local political landscape, etc.) to the visibility of a topic on the current political agenda (it is logical that MEPs specialised in a topic that is currently being discussed will receive a boost in their scores).
3) The analysis concerns the diffuse dimension of influence of all MEPs in Parliament. Hence, the aim is to give a detailed picture of how influential MEPs are regardless of the particular debate being discussed. As MEPs specialise in specific policy areas, the sectorial analyses allow us to observe how the dynamics of the EP differ when we concentrate on particular policy dimensions. For more information, check out our previous influence assessments by policy area:
The most influential MEPs
The most influential MEP is the EP’s President, David Maria Sassoli (S&D), mainly due to this key position in the Parliament itself. In second and third place respectively are Iratxe García Pérez (S&D), Chair of the S&D group, and Manfred Weber (EPP), Chair of EPP group, who is known for having been the EPP Spitzenkandidat during the previous elections. Antonio Tajani (EPP) ranks fourth, previous EP president, and current Vice-President of the EPP group, Chair of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs and Chair of the Conference of Committee Chairs.
In fifth place, is rising star Irene Tinagli (S&D), who, in addition to being the chair of the highly strategic Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, is also the second most influential MEP on legislation, leading several policy dossiers related to EU frameworks on investments and finances. The sixth MEP on the list is Heidi Hautala (Greens/EFA), in parliament since 1994. Hautala has built an impressive CV, taking up most of the leadership positions in the Parliament (committee chair, political group leader, Vice President, etc.). She is currently Vice President of the EP and Coordinator of International Trade for the Greens/EFA group.
In seventh place is José Manuel Fernandes (EPP) due to, among other achievements, his leading role on several policy files relating to the EU own resources and the EU solidarity fund. Coming in eighth place is Dacian Cioloș (Renew Europe), who previously was prime minister of Romania, as well as EU Commissioner for Agriculture, and is currently Chair of Renew Europe.
A Vice President of the EP, Othmar Karas (EPP) appears again in our top ten (ninth place), being a seasoned MEP, and an expert on financial regulation who is currently working on the incoming Technical Support Instrument that will support Member States’ in implementing social and economic reforms. The top ten is closed by Dragoș Pîslaru (Renew Europe), the most influential MEP on legislative indicators thanks to his contribution to files on economic and budgetary issues. Check out the interview Pîslaru gave us on the influence assessment on economic policy.
Click HERE to find out the names of the other MEPs that made it onto our list of the top 100 most politically influential MEPs.
Find out the names of the top most politically influential MEPs by country:
Austria – Belgium – Bulgaria – Croatia – Cyprus – Czechia – Denmark – Estonia – Finland – France – Germany – Greece – Hungary – Ireland – Italy – Latvia – Lithuania – Luxembourg – Malta – Netherlands – Poland – Portugal – Romania – Slovakia – Slovenia –Spain – Sweden________________________________________
The rising stars – top 5 most influential newcomers
Only six first-term MEPs are featured among the top 50 most influential EP policymakers, although newcomers make up about 59% of overall seats in the EP. Due to the predominance of senior MEPs among the top positions, we decided to take a look at the few exceptions among newcomer MEPs. With the main exception of Dacian Cioloș, who managed to become the leader of Renew Europe, rising newcomers usually perform well with regards to their legislative activities. On this front, Pîslaru and Tinagli ranked number one and two on legislative indicators respectively. Notably, both MEPs belong to the important Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, a committee that is key to EU legislation at a time when the EU needs to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and prepares for discussions regarding the upcoming EU budget.
1) The top most influential new MEP is Irene Tinagli (Partito Democratico, S&D). She is the chair of the highly strategic Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, and is very involved with drafting legislation, especially on topics concerning the European banking authorities and overall resilience of the EU banking system such as InvestEU Programme and the Solvency Support Instrument.
2) Dacian Cioloş (Partidul Libertate, Unitate și Solidaritate, Renew Europe) is the chair of the Renew Europe group, the third-largest force in the Parliament. Although he is in his first term in the EP, Cioloş is no stranger to EU politics, he is a former Commissioner for Agriculture, as well as Prime Minister of Romania.
3) Dragoș Pîslaru (Partidul Libertate, Unitate și Solidaritate, Renew Europe) is the coordinator of the committee on Employment and Social affairs for Renew Europe. He scores very high on legislative indicators, as he co-leads several policy files on economic and budgetary issues (for example, the Budgetary Instrument for Convergence and Competitiveness (BICC) for the euro area), and also the motion for resolution on cross-border seasonal workers.
4) Luis Garicano (Ciudadanos, Renew Europe) coordinates the position of Renew Europe within the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs. He is also Vice President of both the Renew Europe group and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE Party). Finally, Garicano leads the delegation of MEPs from Ciudadanos (second largest party within Renew Europe).
5) Ewa Kopacz (Platforma Obywatelska, EPP) was elected as one of the Vice Presidents of the European Parliament. The Polish politician has an extensive history in politics, serving as Minister of Health, Marshal of the Sejm (speaker of the lower house) and Prime Minister in Poland.
As shown by the above ranking, there are fewer EPP and S&D MEPs amongst the top rising stars of our ranking, compared to Renew Europe members. This can be put down to the fact that both EPP and S&D lost seats during the 2019 elections (down 34 and 31 seats respectively), whilst Renew Europe, which features two top rising stars, gained 39. Therefore, Renew Europe can count on a higher percentage of first-time MEPs. Conversely, several EPP and S&D incumbent MEPs retained their seats, which explains a smaller percentage of new MEPs entering the parliament. While the EPP and S&D remain the largest political groups in Parliament and, as such, still command several key leadership positions, these are held by the several senior MEPs, with new members having to make their way up the hierarchy of their political groups.
Fast-rising S&D or EPP members are often high-profile politicians, such as Ewa Kopacz, or well-positioned to replace influential colleagues (such as Tinagli replacing Gualtieri – who left the EP to become Italian Minister of Economy – as the Chair of ECON). This is not to say, however, that there cannot be exceptions. For instance, Dolors Montserrat, from the Spanish Partido Popular, has become the chair of the Committee on Petitions and has been able to position herself as a leading MEP on health policy. As such, she managed to be ranked fourth for political influence in our health policy ranking.
Which political groups are punching above their weight the most?
While EPP members have the highest combined influence score, this is due to the fact that the centre-right group is the largest one in the European Parliament. Yet, when looking at the average scores of the MEPs belonging to the different political groups, members of centrist Renew Europe come on top. This is not particularly surprising, as these findings mirror our data on majority-building in the European Parliament: Renew Europe is the group most often on the winning side when voting on EU legislation. This is due to the fact that the centrist group occupies a central position within the EU policy spectrums, meaning that the views of Renew Europe members are often in between the views of S&D (and its allies) and the EPP (and its allies). The group is thus well positioned to swing the outcomes of EP votes in one way or the other, depending on its voting choice. Such dynamics also benefit individual members of Renew Europe, who obtained the highest scores in terms of voting performance (which combines different stats on votes won and participation).
Strong voting performance also helped S&D surpass EPP members with regard to average political influence. The S&D group benefits from the balance of power shifting towards the left following the EP elections last year, as the group led by Garcia Perez is now more often on the winning side compared to the EPP. S&D also managed to be more cohesive than the group led by Manfred Weber, which also contributes to the higher scores of the Social Democrats. Another reason for S&D’s higher position is linked to EPP’s low average leadership scores. EPP members seem to be substantially underrepresented in leadership positions in the EP, as their average scores on political leadership are even lower than those of ECR, Greens/EFA and GUE/NGL. This is also likely to be a consequence of the more difficult coalition-building dynamics for the EPP, since Renew Europe shifted closer to the left after the last elections.
However, our data also shows that EPP members have the strongest networks, which helps compensate for their difficulties on the other dimensions of influence. The EPP can count on the most experienced cohort of MEPs, with several of its members having been in the European Parliament for more than a decade. Their long stint in the EP allowed EPP MEPs to build stronger connections in Brussels and learn how to better navigate through the intricate EU decision-making process. Also, EPP parties are leading the governments of 11 EU countries, which means that a substantial share of EPP members belongs to parties in government. This provides them with substantial links to the other co-legislative institution, the EU Council.
While networks of S&D members are also relatively strong, Renew Europe trails behind the EPP, S&D and even ECR, in this regard. This is due to the low seniority of Renew Europe members (only ID members have lower incumbency scores than Renew Europe MEPs). The networks of Green members are even weaker, as the members of the group tend to have both lower seniority and fewer links to national governments compared to the centrist political forces. Although Green parties are increasingly taking part in national governments as junior partners, even when it’s alongside more conservative forces (such as Austria and Ireland), the biggest Green parties (the German and the French) are still in the opposition.
Yet, the members of Greens/EFA group emerge as the fourth most influential on average when it comes to overall political influence in the European Parliament. For instance, the Greens seem to be overrepresented with regards to leadership positions in the EP, only Renew Europe surpassing them in terms of proportional representation. This is likely due to the strengthening ties between the Greens and the other centrist groups in the EP, in particular S&D and Renew Europe. The voting performance of the Greens is improving accordingly, with the group being more often on the winning side than it used to be during the previous term.
The picture regarding ECR is exactly the opposite than in the case of the Greens. The conservative group is less strongly represented in the leadership positions of the EP, which is also due to increasingly difficult relations between ECR and the centre-left groups. Such tension was also highlighted by the rejection of ECR Polish candidates for leadership positions in the EP, such as Beata Szydlo (who failed to be elected as chair of EMPL) and Zdzisław Krasnodębski (who was defeated during the elections of the new Vice-Presidents of the EP). Yet, ECR MEPs are generally more experienced and enjoy stronger links to the Council (especially the Polish) compared to Greens and GUE/NGL members. ECR members even manage to outperform Renew Europe MEPs when it comes to their networks.
Which national groups are punching above their weight the most?
If we look at the influence by the EU Member State, the size of the country, or more concretely its population (translated into the number of MEPs), plays a key role. For example, the Germans, as the biggest national group in the EP, have been the most influential, followed by other big national groups such as the Spanish, French, Italians, Polish, the Romanians, the Dutch, etc. With the exception of Spain overtaking France and Italy (despite having fewer MEPs – more on the Spanish below), these are no big findings, as it is clear that the 96 German MEPs are collectively able to shape more dossiers and hold more leadership positions compared to the 6 Cypriot or Maltese MEPs. After all, the German delegation is meant to represent over 80 million people, while the Maltese only represents about half a million people.
For this reason, we prefer to take another approach that would place the countries on an equal footing: by dividing the total amount of influence of a country by the number of MEPs it has, we get the average influence per MEP, which allows us to have comparable results among the countries. These results can be read as “which countries have punched above their weight and which below their weight?” The answer is that Portugal, Luxembourg and Finland are at the top of national groups punching above their (otherwise relatively small) weight.
Portuguese MEPs have performed an astonishing climb since the last assessment. Even though the Portuguese score high across the full range of indicators, the main explanation for the success of the Portuguese delegation is found in their leading role in shaping legislation. Portugal delivers a high number of (shadow) rapporteurs on important legislative dossiers. Interestingly, more than for other Member States, these legislative tasks are quite evenly spread among the Portuguese MEPs, which testifies to the overall strength of the delegation. Although the EP got increasingly fragmented and polarised after the elections, most Portuguese MEPs are concentrated within the two largest groups, EPP and S&D, where their weight has increased due to the fact that these groups have become smaller (while this is not the case of the main Portuguese parties). Fringe Portuguese parties are concentrated within GUE/NGL, where their MEPs are part of one of the largest delegations (this is also reflected by the fact that the group has two Portuguese Vice-Chairs, Marisa Matias and João Ferreira). With regard to the sectorial assessments, a young Portuguese MEP ranks second by political influence on healthcare policy.
For its part, Luxembourg comes in second place in the overall ranking. As in the case of Portugal, the fact that most Luxembourgish MEPs belong to the largest centrist groups clearly has a positive impact on their influence. Yet, it also seems that Luxembourgish politicians are particularly effective at building bridges within the group, as they often are in the majority with their political groups when divisions occur. This might help explain why, despite not having any big delegations supporting them, 50% of Luxembourg’s MEPs are coordinators, including within the powerful Committee on International Trade (Christophe Hansen is coordinator of the EPP).
In line with their previous track record, Finnish MEPs have maintained their previous 3rd place in the ranking. Once again, most of the Finnish influence is exerted through legislative activities, rather than leadership positions. The most influential MEP in this indicator is Sirpa Pietikäinen, who is one of the rapporteurs for opinion on the Recovery and Resilience Facility report. Perhaps due to the fragmentation of Finnish political scene, it is more difficult for their MEPs to get leadership positions, as Finnish weight in the different political groups is rather small. Yet, it helps that Finland can count on one of the most experienced cohorts of MEPs (notably, senior Finnish MEP Heidi Hautala is Vice-President of the European Parliament). Finnish MEP Nils Torvalds ranks fourth by political influence on policies related to the European Green Deal.
Conversely, the bottom part of the ranking features several national delegations from the newest EU members, showing that there is still a gap between old and new Europe with regards to the influence of their representatives in the EP (with a few exceptions, such as Romania – more on this in the following section). Cypriot MEPs come last on our influence assessment, with a drop of three places compared to the past term. Cypriot political scene is more fragmented compared to the Maltese one, which might explain why Cypriot MEPs find it more difficult to get leadership positions in the EP. Also, ⅓ of the Cypriot delegation belongs to fringe group GUE/NGL, whose influence is definitely lower compared to the mainstream groups. Yet, left-wing Kizilyürek is now the only Cypriot MEP to hold a leadership position, as he was named coordinator of the Committee on Culture and Education (CULT) for GUE/NGL. Just above the Cypriots, Slovakian MEPs are also substantially punching below their weight. Among the reasons for such low ranking, it is important to note that almost all Slovak MEPs are new to Parliament. This means that they have not been able to make use of existing networks amongst MEPs to influence policy debate nor obtain key leadership positions (the notable exceptions being Monika Beňová and Lucia Ďuriš Nicholsonová, the Chair of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs). Additionally, Slovak representation suffers from a remarkable level of fragmentation, as well as the fact that some Slovak MEPs are unaffiliated members (therefore they cannot get leadership positions or legislative positions). Finally, Slovenian MEPs occupy the third place from the bottom. Similarly to Slovakia, the Slovenian political scene experiences high levels of fragmentation. Slovenian MEPs score low on legislative indicators, with the exception of more experienced MEPs such as Fajon and Bogović.
Decline of Italy and rise of Spain among the biggest changes to the balance of power in the EP
While several smaller national delegations punch above their weight when it comes to shaping EU policies, it is equally important to look at the bigger picture of the balance of power in the EP. Our assessment shows that German MEPs punch above their already big weight in the EP, as the Germans are ranked sixth in terms of average influence in the EP. This means that the Germans perform better, on average, compared to the other large delegations in the EP (France, Italy, Spain and Poland).
As the representatives of the largest EU country, German MEPs have relatively easy access to leadership posts, as they can leverage their positions as the largest delegation within the EPP and Greens/EFA, while also being among the largest forces within S&D and GUE/NGL. Additionally, German MEPs have among the strongest networks in the EP due to the high level of seniority of their MEPs, in particular the members of CDU/CSU and SPD. Six out of the seven MEPs currently serving their sixth parliamentary term are German, courtesy of the stability of German political scene (especially when compared to the Italian and French ones). This helps explain the Germans’ strong showing in the sectorial assessments we conducted, where they make the top five in all but one of the rankings (environment). What is more, some German MEPs are even ranked first in their category (i.e. Peter Liese (EPP) in health, and Michael Gahler (EPP) in external policy).
Yet, our data shows that the standing of German MEPs is facing some pressure, as the ranking of the national delegation by average political influence declined slightly compared to the previous term. For instance, when it comes to leadership, Germany lost some key positions in the largest European political groups, such as Udo Bullmann as Chair for S&D. Additionally, the rise of Renew Europe decreases the relative importance of Manfred Weber as the EPP group leader. Even when it comes to the other influence dimension where the Germans are particularly strong, the political network, the latest elections led to a decrease in the scores of German MEPs, especially as several incumbents from SPD lost their seats to the benefit of newcomers from mainly the Greens and Alternative for Germany.
An even bigger earthquake took place in France, where the rate of renewal of MEPs has been particularly high. The decline of the traditional French parties within S&D and EPP and the significant growth of LREM and the Greens explains the high turnover among the French. This leads to French MEPs underperforming with regards to the influence exerted through political networks, as many MEPs are serving their first term in the EP.
Additionally, only a few French MEPs belong to the domestic legislative majority, which is due to the difference between the majoritarian political system deployed for the French legislative elections and the proportional system used for the European Parliament elections. If legislative elections in France were to be held proportionally, it is likely that bigger coalitions would have to be formed in order to provide the executive with a majority, allowing more political forces to partake in the process.
The above factors might help explain why French MEPs tend to punch below their weight in the European Parliament, being ranked at the 21st place (out of 27) by average political influence. While the position of the French improved substantially within Renew Europe, this was not enough for them to get the leadership of Renew Europe, which shows that the rise of Macron’s party occasionally leads to tension within the centrist force. Nevertheless, French Renew Europe MEPs were compensated with several positions at the committee level as Chairs, Vice Chairs and political coordinators (including the powerful Committee on Environment). Pascal Canfin is among the most influential MEPs on environmental policy, while Pascal Durand is ranked fifth in terms of political influence on the European Way of Life pillar (curiously they are both former Green members).
The gains within Renew Europe fall short of compensating the heavy losses within EPP and S&D, where the French are no longer among the biggest delegations (and therefore penalised with regards to political leadership positions). The only French who is leading a political group is Manon Aubry, who co-chairs GUE/NGL alongside German Martin Schirdewan. Finally, due to the isolation of the ID group, members of Rassemblement National are prevented from getting important leadership positions or legislative files, which means that the party is punching below its weight by far.
A similar pattern applies to Italy, where the sizable cohort of Lega MEPs finds it difficult to exert influence in the EP due to a cordon sanitaire formed by the other political forces. Despite getting the leadership of the ID group with Marco Zanni (and other internal positions within the ID group), there is little else that Lega’s MEPs can hope to get in terms of leadership posts. For different reasons, the third-largest delegation, the 5 Star Movement also struggles to get key leadership positions and dossiers, as the party does not belong to any European group. Yet, it managed to get Castaldo re-elected as Vice President of the EP, which indicates that the party has some more leverage compared to the other unaffiliated political forces.
Yet, Italians are still faring relatively well in terms of overall average leadership scores, despite the decreasing weight of other political forces such as the Italian Democratic Party and Forza Italia. Members of the Democratic Party were elected as President of the EP and Chair of the key Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, while Forza Italia is able to leverage the experience of Tajani as former EP President. This also explains the apparent paradox of Italian MEPs exerting little average influence (they are ranked 22th out of 27), although there are three Italians among the top 5 most influential MEPs. While the traditional Italian parties still have influence, the other forces are struggling to break through the isolation. Despite being a small party, Fratelli d’Italia standing in the EP has increased due to the fact that it is still one of the largest forces in ECR and holds the co-chairmanship of the group with Raffaele Fitto.
The Italian delegation fares particularly low with regards to their voting behaviour performance, with Italian MEPs ranking 25th by average performance scores in the EP. This due to the fact that, while the balance of power in the EP is slightly shifted towards the centre-left, the composition of the Italian cohort of MEPs leans significantly towards the right, being one of the most conservative national delegation in the EP (46% of Italian MEPs belong to either ECR or ID groups). This explains why Italians tend to be, on average, more often on the losing side compared to other national groups.
Completely different trends are observed with regards to the Spaniards, as the influence of Spanish MEPs is actually on the rise compared to the previous term. Rather strikingly, the second delegation in terms of combined influence is the Spanish one, a testament that sheer power in numbers is a necessary, yet not sufficient condition for being influential (the Spanish delegation is substantially smaller than both the French and Italian delegations).
Spain benefits from the fact that most Spanish MEPs come from the three largest – and most powerful – political groups in Parliament, up from 65% in the previous term. This helped the Spanish to secure key leadership positions. PSOE’s electoral gains in the 2019 European election helped the party become S&D’s largest national delegation and secure the leadership of the group (held by Iratxe Garcia Perez). Additionally, Ciudadanos’ position as the second-largest delegation within Renew Europe paved the way for Luis Garicano’s Vice-Chairmanship of the Renew Europe group and his position as coordinator of Renew Europe in the ECON Committee. Despite the losses, the Spanish are still the fourth largest delegation within the EPP. The effective distribution of Spanish representation explains why there are Spanish coordinators in several influential committees including Economy, Transport and Tourism, Budgets, and Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs. This is likewise reflected in Spain’s strong showing in the sectorial assessments, where two Spanish MEPs are ranked first: Pilar del Castillo Vera (EPP) in digital policy, and Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D) in democracy and home affairs.
However, the Spanish delegation still has some way to go in terms of establishing itself in Parliament. For instance, Spanish MEPs lag behind other delegations with regards to the seniority of networks of MEPs. This could be explained by the higher level of turnover within the main Spanish parties compared to the German ones (most PSOE MEPs are in their first term).
Finally, the biggest CEE delegations are gaining ground with regards to their average influence exerted in the EP.
Polish MEPs rank 12th in terms of proportional influence in the EP, a slight improvement from the previous term. This still makes the Polish delegation one of the top-performing groups from the CEE region. The previous changes in the political makeup of the EP led Polish politicians to clearly dominate the ECR group, which provides PiS politicians with significant influence in the EP, as they can leverage the group’s power to their advantage. Additionally, the Polish are now the second-largest national group within the influential EPP, which significantly helps politicians from the opposition to gain leadership positions at the EU level. It is also important to remember that Donald Tusk is President of the EPP Party, although this is not taken into account by our assessment (since Tusk is not an MEP).
The Polish national delegation also benefits from relatively high seniority scores, which is due to the overall stability of the Polish political scene and lower turnover rates among the ranks of the two main Polish parties. The Polish delegation can also count on several high profile politicians, among which a record number of former Polish Prime Ministers, but also ascending stars. Differently from other countries, becoming an MEP is seen as an important step in the career of Polish politicians. Notably, the two main candidates to become Polish Presidents earlier this year, namely Andrzej Duda and Rafał Trzaskowski, were both former MEPs. Another candidate, Robert Biedroń, is a current MEP.
Yet, Polish MEPs underperform when it comes to winning votes in the EP, due to the fact that the left-leaning tilt of the current term of the European Parliament puts the more conservative Polish MEPs at disadvantage. The low level of representation of Polish MEPs among the groups to the left of the EPP contributes to decrease their overall influence, especially with regards to policy areas where the balance of power tilts to the left (such as environmental policy).
Romania is ranked fourth by average political influence, climbing three places since last term. Romania has consolidated its high performance score, which is explained by the fact that 97% of MEPs come from EPP, S&D and Renew groups and thus are very likely to be on the majority side of each vote. The increasing Romanian leverage in the mainstream groups helps them secure influential leadership positions as in the case of Dacian Cioloș (Chair of Renew Europe), Siegfried Mureșan (Vice-Chair of EPP) and Rovana Plumb (Vice-Chair of S&D).
Yet, Romanians are also seen as very active in shaping legislation, in spite of generally low seniority of the Romanian delegation. For instance, Dragoș Pîslaru and Siegfried Mureșan hold strategic positions on crucial dossiers such as the competitiveness of the euro area, the Recovery and Resilience Facility and the financing of the Green Deal. Romanian MEPs were often featured at the top of our sectorial influence assessment, such as Busoi (health), Dan Nica (digital) and Pîslaru (economy). Among the reasons spurring Romanian MEPs to be so active in the EP it is important to note that, similarly to other countries in the region, becoming an MEP is seen as a rather prestigious position for a Romanian politician. It is often used as a launching pad to further progress their career and ultimately compete for top positions such as EU Commissioner or even Prime Minister.
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