Special highlights from EU decision making: Hydrogen, Vaccines, EU-China CAI, Turkey


This special briefing includes our latest observations regarding the politics behind EU policies on the following subjects:

NB: the Commission pays attention to the size of EP majorities not only when voting on legislation, but also when own-initiative reports are being passed in the preparatory stages, hence the Commission is likely to shape the actual upcoming legislative proposals in line with these political majorities to avoid complications. 

Importantly, the positions of some MEPs do change between the indicative votes on own-initiative reports and the decisions on the actual legislation, potentially turning a minority into a majority or the opposite. In order to forecast which MEPs/parties might swing (and which hold strong/stable views), use our influence matrices (or contact us at [email protected]).


EU-Turkey relations

The latest votes on the EP own initiative report on Turkey provide us with an indication of the current level of political support for preserving close relations with Ankara. This data shows that while the overall MEPs’ perception of Turkey’s policies has significantly deteriorated compared to the past, there are still substantial divisions between the political forces in the European Parliament on how to approach Turkey. Such a divide mirrors similar disagreement in the Council, thus explaining why EU institutions have not been able to agree on a clear policy course towards Ankara. 

Importantly, while MEPs who are more critical of Ankara tend to be more visible in the public space, the online debate is not always reflective of the majoritarian positions within EU institutions. Notably, a majority of MEPs are against blaming the so-called “Sofa-gate” on Turkey (+52 MEPs), therefore dismissing the PR campaign to instrumentalise this event to undermine EU-Turkey relations. While this criticism was notably supported by the Renew Europe group (whose leading French delegation is at odds with Ankara over disputes in the Mediterranean), the Greens and part of the Social Democrats did not (automatically) join the “blaming game”. Importantly, most political groups (especially S&D and the EPP) were split along national lines, indicating that the different interpretations of the diplomatic encounter reflect the already established geopolitical priorities of each national group.

Full breakdown of the vote here.

The outcomes of other votes, however, surface continuous challenges for an EU-Turkey rapprochement, such as the call on Turkey to recognise the massacres from the 1910s as “Armenian genocide”, which is also in line with the position recently adopted by the new US administration. Importantly, while a broad coalition supports the call to label these historical events as genocide (+ 260 MEPs), the Social Democrats and the Greens are opposed, thus showing a certain degree of consistency in their position on EU-Turkey relations. Also in this case, key national divisions emerge from the votes, with Greek, Italian and French MEPs from the centre-left groups supporting a more assertive approach on this matter, while most centre-right Germans and Spanish adopt an opposite stance.

Full breakdown of the vote here.

Finally, a majority of MEPs (+174 MEPs) support the Council’s approach to the negotiations for Turkey’s EU accession, especially the previous decision to block the opening of the Chapter on Judiciary and Fundamental Rights and the Chapter on Justice, Freedom and Security. The opening of these chapters has been frozen by Cyprus since 2009. The broad coalition supporting the Council’s approach encompasses political forces such as the EPP (including Merkel’s CDU/CSU), Renew Europe (including Macron’s party), as well as the Left and ID groups. While this confirms the negative outlook for EU-Turkey relations, more than 200 MEPs remain critical of the Council’s blockage of key chapters, which shows that the more confrontational approach is far from consensual.

Full breakdown of the vote here.

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To learn more about coalition-building dynamics on foreign affairs, including how to identify the most influential MEPs and the pivotal voters, join our executive webinar on EU foreign policy on 27 of May (10.00 - 10.30 AM, Brussels time).


Patents of COVID-19 vaccines

Compared to the measurements we took a month ago, there seems to be increased support for discussing the temporary waiver of Covid-19 vaccine patents. While this debate is not new, the shift in the European Parliament’s position could best be understood when considering the recent backing of the U.S. administration towards such an initiative. Notably, MEPs in favour of a temporary waiver on intellectual property rights (IPR) for Covid-19 vaccines are now able to secure a very narrow majority (+9 MEPs only). The dynamics in voting behaviour for this proposal are a strong indicator of the likely positions of MEPs on this issue, which will formally be put to vote with a resolution during the June plenary. 

Stakeholders should keep in mind that MEPs remain highly divided on this question, with only The Left, Greens/EFA and a large part of S&D supporting the proposal. Notably, members of Renew Europe are still split on this issue, with over 20 Renew MEPs supporting the waiver of Covid-19 patents. Stakeholders should pay particular attention to French Renew members, who are mainly abstaining (with some even voting in favour). This is a highly insightful change of position, as MEPs from Macron’s governing party voted against the previous proposal on the very same topic last plenary. This would point towards increasing support by France towards waiving Covid-19 patents. Nevertheless, such an initiative is expected to still receive some opposition in the Council, in part given Germany’s position. Indeed, MEPs from Merkel’s CDU/CSU as well as from FDP are consistently opposing lifting intellectual property rights on Covid-19 vaccines. 

Find the full breakdown of the vote here.

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Interested in EU health policy? Our influence matrix will show you how influential MEPs are, and in which direction each MEP is pulling EU legislation. You can find it here.


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EU Hydrogen Strategy

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