Is Belgian MEP Rolin actually more progressive than his political group, the EPP?

As our previous report on the ‘unusual’ voting behavior of the Finnish MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen showcased, the positions taken by EU Parliamentarians sometimes diverge from the official lines of their political groups.

Indeed, the political affiliation of MEPs is not the only factor that shapes their voting behavior. There are many other factors that influence MEPs’ behavior, such as their nationality, personal background and beliefs. These beliefs are initially shaped by the environment in which they develop as persons, their education and their peers. Eventually, politicians are subject to influences by a multitude of organised and non-organised (societal and economic) interests that attempt to (partly) turn these politicians into representatives of their cause.

Take for example, Belgian MEP Claude Rolin, representative of the centrist Humanist Democratic Centre (EPP).  His previous background as trade unionist shapes his stances on social issues, which are his main focus of interest. The Belgian MEP is now an important point of reference for the trade unions that lobby the European Parliament, as Rolin is very vocal about the need to strengthen workers' protection in the EU. However, his political group, the EPP, holds less progressive views on social policy, as it tries to strike a balance between protecting workers and fostering the competitiveness of the European industry. Some members of the centre-right wing EPP are openly pro-businesses, meaning that they reject further regulatory measures that would increase the costs for companies and entrepreneurs.

Drawing on our insights into the behavior of the EU Parliamentarians when taking decisions in the EP, we checked whether MEP Rolin is actually more progressive on social policy than his political group, the EPP. We also analyzed his positions on several subjects such as international trade, agricultural protection and much more.

NB: This analysis is part of a series of reports that map the positions adopted by specific Members of the European Parliament, national parties, and political groups (see our previous report on the ALDE group). VoteWatch will provide extensive research into the positions and work of EU Parliamentarians at an increasing frequency between now and the 2019 European elections.

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