What is this index, how should the results be read?
Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) make decisions for us. As it is the case in democracies, they have different views on how the EU’s society and economy should be managed. As the European elections approach, it is a good time to look at the different viewpoints of the MEPs. At VoteWatch Europe, the leading independent non-partisan organisation tracking the voting records in the European institutions, we are creating a variety of tools that help citizens at large and more specific segments of the public understand how their interests and priorities are defended by their representatives.
Our website, votewatch.eu, provides information on how each of the 751 MEPs voted on all policy issues discussed in Brussels. The leading tool that we have created to inform the public in the context of the EU elections is www.yourvotematters.eu, a platform where the citizens themselves can vote on the same pieces of legislation as MEPs did, and see which MEPs come closer to them.
Different societal and economic groups make use of our database of votes to find out which MEPs are on their side, which ones are sitting on the fence and which ones support opposite views. However, finding the relevant votes is not very easy for people who are not practitioners. In other advanced democracies, such as the United States, there is greater availability of tools which aggregate political data to strengthen the accountability of the political system. However, in Brussels there is still a lot of room for improvement when it comes to application of data technologies to politics, despite our own valuable contribution.
For this reason, VoteWatch Europe – along with its partner EUROCHAMBRES – decided to launch the Entrepreneur Index, a pilot project thataims to track MEPs’ positions with regard to the management of the internal market and the EU economy in general.
This index does not aim to promote a specific policy direction, leaving the users free to gauge the voting behavior of their elected representatives. MEPs who score high in this index believe that the EU adds value to entrepreneurship, by promoting increased access to means of production (materials, labour, capital) and markets and by harmonising legislation. MEPs who score low in this index are either in favour of regulated markets and societies, more restrictions on entrepreneurship and more protectionist global trade policies, or prefer national solutions instead of an EU approach.
We are also aware that this represents only a small part of the policy work taking place in the European Parliament. In building this project, we received the support of EUROCHAMBRES, one of the leading stakeholders at EU level.
We encourage other stakeholders/ advocacy groups to contact us if they are interested in supporting similar projects on other policy matters or from different angles.
For more information, send us an email at [email protected]
What are the results?
According to our calculations, 4 Members of the European Parliament supported entrepreneurship-friendly policies each time they voted on the decisions included in this index: Verónica Lope Fontagné (Spain), Alojz Peterle (Slovenia), Stanislav Polčák (Czechia) and Czesław Adam Siekierski (Poland).
Therefore, they were assigned a score of 100%. The top 5 is closed by György Hölvényi, a Hungarian MEP. These top five are affiliated to the EPP group in the EP.
From among the members of the other political group, Czech Dita Charanzová got the highest score within ALDE (96%), British Ashley Fox tops the ranking within ECR (95.65%), whereas Hungarian Tibor Szanyi got the highest score within S&D (74%).
The annual scores provide information on how the MEPs voted over the past 12 months. In this case, as many as 155 MEPs got the maximum score, as they supported entrepreneurship in each of the selected issues during that one year period.
At the bottom of the ranking, we find a more diverse picture. For example, Eurosceptic MEPs belonging to parties such as UKIP or Wilders’ Party for Freedom opposed most of the proposals aiming at creating a more favorable regulatory environment for entrepreneurship. The low scores of Eurosceptic members arguably stem from their opposition towards the EU’s leading role as an economic regulator. On the other hand, the opposition coming from left-wing parties is more closely linked to their overall opposition to economic deregulation rather than their views on the role of the EU.
The full results can be accessed here: MEP Entrepreneur Index.
Please note that only MEPs who took part in at least 50% of the decisions are shown. This also explains why the score of the current President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani is not displayed, as the President of the Parliament does not usually take part in the votes, as a way to highlight his/her impartial role as supervisor and representative of the institution as a whole.
We also looked at which national groups in the European Parliament have been the most supportive of entrepreneurship-friendly policies. Quite interestingly, MEPs from post-communist countries seem the keenest supporter of a more favorable regulatory landscape for entrepreneurs, with Bulgarian MEPs topping the ranking, followed by Slovak MEPs.
From among Western European members, Luxembourgish MEPs were found to be the most supportive of friendly policies towards entrepreneurs, while Maltese top the ranking with regards to Southern Europe.
On the opposite side, Greek MEPs are revealed to be the most in favour of regulating economic and social activities, followed by the Swedish. The low score for the UK might come as a surprise to many, although it can be explained by the behaviour of UKIP (the largest group among British MEPs after the elections in 2014), who tends to oppose any sort of EU-driven framework of intervention in the economy.
What is likely to happen after the May 2019 elections?
According to current projections, the political forces at the top of this ranking are likely to incur losses, whereas fringe groups (in particular to the right of the political spectrum) are expected to make significant gains. This is likely to pose additional challenges for the supporters of a more friendly regulatory environment for entrepreneurs during the next European Parliament term, as increasing fragmentation in the European Parliament will lead the two (shrinking) traditional forces (EPP and S&D) to reach out more to the other groups in order to gather a majority for specific proposals.
At VoteWatch Europe, we closely monitor trends across the EU and forecast the direction of EU policies after the elections on any area, using a sophisticated modeling that takes into accounts the new numbers and parties’ historical track record in decision making. We also forecast which MEPs will be re-elected and who the new MEPs will be.
What indicators were used for the measurement?
Our calculations are based on the actual votes of the Members of the European Parliament, rather than mere statements. Speeches of politicians, or electoral manifestos, are often intentionally ambiguous, concealing the fact that political decisions entail trade-offs between different societal interests. However, when a voting session takes place, politicians have to decide which of the alternatives takes priority.
We made use of our own database to select 25 decisions on topics that substantially affect the functioning of the European economy. Our selection was guided by the expertise of our partner EUROCHAMBRES.
We included votes/decisions on reports that are not legally binding, but which still carry a strong political message and contribute to frame the debate for future legislative interventions. These votes allow MEPs to take a clear stance in favour or against a course of action, without being constrained by inter-institutional negotiations. However, we also included votes on decisions that are legally binding, in order to show which MEPs are more willing to compromise (hence have more moderate views) than others.
The scores of this MEP Entrepreneur Index were calculated as follows: MEPs were assigned 1 point every time they voted in favour of initiatives that contribute to establish a more stimulating environment for enterprising, whereas MEPs opposing these initiatives were assigned 0 points. In case of abstentions, MEPs were assigned 0.5 points.
While the cumulative score shows how MEPs voted on the whole list of issues from the current term of the European Parliament, the annual scores refer to the votes that took place over the past 12 months.
The following list shows the votes that we used to assess the positions of MEPs on measures aiming at facilitating entrepreneurship:
1) Introduce a single digital entry point that provides access to online administrative procedures and assistance services to businesses – (A8-0054/2018 – Amendment 173);
2) Support for easing data protection rules for SMEs – (B8-0304/2018 – Paragraph 12/4);
3) Develop efficient legislation focusing on small and medium-sized enterprises – (A8-0170/2018 – Paragraph 10/2);
4) Simplification of statistical requirements and legal acts for business statistics – (A8-0094/2018 – Decision to enter into interinstitutional negotiations);
5) Update EU tools and services in the area of skills and qualifications (Europass framework) – (A8-0244/2017 – Amendment 93);
6) Support the New Skills Agenda for Europe – (A8-0276/2017 – Resolution (Final vote));
7) Support Commission’s efforts in advacing trade negotiations with Japan, Mexico, Chile, Mercosur, Australia, New Zealand and India – (RC-B8-0434/2017 – Paragraph 75);
8) Validate and recognize qualifications awarded outside the EU to promote the integration of migrants and refugees – (B8-0298/2017 – Paragraph 26/1);
9) Accelerate the development of the Capital Market Union – (A8-0039/2017 – Paragraph 12);
10) Finalise the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the EU – (A8-0009/2017 – Consent (Final vote));
11) Remove export restrictions on US gas to the EU – (A8-0278/2016 – Paragraph 54);
12) Fight against low wholesales prices and overcapacities in the energy sector – (A8-0214/2016 – Amendment 1);
13) Do NOT introduce restrictive conditions for refugees’ and asylum seekers’ access to employment – (A8-0204/2016 – Paragraph 46/2);
14) Increase harmonization of legislation to tackle unjustified barriers by Member States – (A8-0171/2016 – Paragraph 4);
15) Reduce unjustified non-tariff barriers (NTBs) between Member States – (A8-0160/2016 – Recital C);
16) Update legal framework on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purpose of research, studies, training, volunteering, pupil exchange and au pairing – (A8-0166/2016 – Amendment 1 = 2);
17) Preserve the Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT) – (A8-0208/2015 – Resolution (Final vote));
18) Address the impact of proposals on administrative burdens within impact assessments, particularly as regards SMEs – (A8-0039/2016 – Paragraph 7/2);
19) Base EU legislation on the ‘Think Small First’ principle – (A8-0222/2015 – Paragraph 86/3);
20) Set higher separate recycling targets for commercial and industrial waste (A8-0215/2015 – Amendment 11);
21) Establish the European Fund for Strategic Investments (A8-0139/2015 – Resolution (Final vote));
22) Withdraw obsolete or burdensome legislative proposals (A8-0135/2015 – Paragraph 34/2);
23) Reduce administrative burdens and bureaucracy for the self-employed, micro-enterprises and SMEs (B8-0252/2014 – Paragraph 32);
24) Better link educational curricula to the demands of the labour market (RC-B8-0027/2014 – Paragraph 44);
25) Decrease flexibility of labour markets (RC-B8-0027/2014 – Amendment 12);