Note: this country-based report is part of the broader study that measured the influence of MEPs from all 28 EU Members States. To consult the methodology and cross-country comparisons read the full “Who holds the power in the European Parliament?” study.
The charismatic leader of the ALDE (Alliance of Liberal and Democrats for Europe) group in the EP, Guy Verhofstadt, tops our list on the most influential Belgian MEPs in the European Parliament. Before joining the EP in 2009, Verhofstadt held important positions at the national level. In fact, he was the Prime Minister of Belgium for almost ten years (from 1999 to 2008). When he was appointed as PM of Belgium, he had already been the chair of his political party for several years (firstly the Party for Freedom and Progress and then the Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats). His long experience as the leader of a political party might explain why he has been leading the Liberal group in the European Parliament since the moment he joined the institution. The Belgian politician is also very popular and well-known across the EU bubble, in particular for his passionate speeches in favor of the establishment a real European federation. Together with the Dutch MEPs Marietje Schaake, he received the highest number of positive mentions by the respondents of our survey.
Another liberal MEP, this time coming from the French-speaking Wallonia, occupies the second place in our list. Gérard Deprez is one of the most senior member of the European Parliament as he joined the institution in 1984 and he has served as an MEP since then, apart from four years, during which he was working in the national Parliament. In addition to that, he held important positions in the Christian Social Party (he was the chair of the party for about 15 years), although he eventually left the party in order to found another political movement. In the EP, he is specialized in budgetary issues. In fact, he is the political coordinator of the ALDE group in the Committee on Budgets and, notably, he was the rapporteur on the 2016 EU Budget. Finally, Deprez is the Vice-Chair of the EP delegation to the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly.
At the third place, we find an MEP from the same political party as Deprez’s (Reformist Movement). Louis Michel can boast a long career at the national level before joining the EP. After working as a school’s teacher, he was the mayor of a Wallonian town (Jodoigne) for more than 20 years as well as a member of the Belgian national Parliament. Eventually, Michel worked for the European Commission as a Commissioner (he was in charge of Development and Humanitarian Aid within the Barroso I Commission). After the experience in the European Commission, Michel joined the EP in 2009 and he is now the head of the Belgian delegation in ALDE. The Belgian MEP also chairs the EP delegation to ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (which brings together MEPs with representatives from African, Caribbean and Pacific countries). Finally, Louis Michel is well connected to the current Belgian government, as the Prime Minister of Belgium, Charles Michel, is his son.
For more information about the methodology and the rest of the assessment, contact us at [email protected].
Also read the other assessments by country:
Austria – 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 – United Kingdom