Uncover which MEPs can help you advance your agenda. Part 7: Health policy

This report is part of the new VoteWatch series showing you how to build your strategy using our new analytical tool (which is explained in-depth here) and which allows you to quickly identify kingmakers and swing-voters among MEPs. This advanced tool is already been used by strategists that work with key stakeholders to shape EU policy-making. 

In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, we show the positions of each MEP on key parts of European health initiatives and highlight which MEPs are convinced (on either side), and which remain to be brought on board to secure majorities. 

Check out our previous analyses on other policy areas (e.g. climate, trade, digital etc.) here.

Use this analytical tool to spot:

a) how influential MEPs are in shaping EU's health policy

b) in which direction each MEP is pulling EU legislation.

This report shows features examples such as the definition of the COVID-19 vaccine as a public good and the role of pharmaceutical patents in emergency situations. For more examples, please contact us at [email protected]

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Reminder on why to use the new VoteWatch analytical tool 

Because politicians do not form their opinions in a vacuum. MEPs need to collect information and expertise, especially on issues on which they do not have any professional experience. As a result, the views of an MEP are the weighted sum of all the information he/she has been exposed to, from a variety of sources. 

Consequently, MEPs welcome new information from stakeholders (be it political, public or private sector). Doru Peter Frantescu, CEO and co-founder of VoteWatch Europe, recently shared his insights on how stakeholders work with MEPs in this John Harper Publishing new book – How to Work with the EU Institutions: A Practical Guide to Successful Public Affairs in the EU.

How does this information look like in our new analytical tool?

The policy radar above reveals how each MEP views the proposals to design the future of the European health sector (each interactive dot holds the information about an MEP). MEPs who are placed to the right of this chart support a more market-based approach to health reforms (a conclusion we reached after looking at their recent legislative behavior in the EP). On the contrary, the more an MEP is placed to the left of this chart, the more the MEP is convinced that a stronger focus on the public sector is a good idea. The level of influence of each MEP is displayed on the vertical axis: MEPs who are more influential are placed higher than others, proportionally to the potential influence they can exert. 

This first chart shows the position of all MEPs (regardless of their committee membership). Pay particular attention to the interactive dots that are positioned in middle, and especially in the proximity of the majority line, because those are the MEPs who will decide to support or reject a proposal at the last moment (and in doing so, they hold the key to the fate of a proposal). You can filter the MEPs by country (use the drop-down menu on the left side) or by political group (click on the name of a political group). Roll over your mouse over each dot to learn more information.

Note: in the free version of this report we display limited information in the charts. To discover the names of the MEPs you need to log in with a premium account. If you don't have a premium account yet, please contact us at [email protected] to discuss the terms. 

Having most of its members next to the majority line, S&D seems to be closer to Renew Europe and EPP than the other left-wing groups, even if a fraction of the social-democratic group seems to be in conflict with the rest of the group. Hence, it seems that S&D is rather likely to join the centrist or even right-of-center coalition to build a broad majority in favor of a market-based approach to health policy. Conversely, Greens/EFA and, to a greater extent, GUE/NGL, push for a more public-based approach, but remain relatively isolated. 

The second chart focuses only on the MEPs who are members of the main relevant committee, i.e. the positions of all MEPs belonging to the EP’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI).  

Identify the kingmakers and the swing-voters 

Our analytical tool highlights which MEPs are the kingmakers and the swing voters when decisions are made: the swing-voters are in the area surrounding the majority line (the yellow area) while the kingmakers are in the area where influence (the blue area) overlaps with the swing-voters area. The MEPs that have more moderate views / are undecided whether the European health sector should be more market-oriented will generally be more receptive to new information, as they probably have not yet decided which amendments to support and how to vote. Conversely, MEPs that hold strongly crystallized views on health policies (i.e. are either strongly supportive or strongly opposed) will arguably be less receptive to alternative views, as they have made up their mind long ago. 

Keep in mind that this matrix shows MEPs’ support and influence on health policy in general. However, MEPs and national parties can have nuanced views on different aspects of the European health framework. For instance, French ruling party (LREM, Renew) is supportive of the call to make the Covid-19 vaccine a global public good, whereas it remains generally committed towards a robust European intellectual property (IP) system that would include the health sector. 

Ideally, you would focus your efforts on the kingmakers or on the heads of national delegations (as they have a greater potential of influencing their compatriots) in order to make the best use of your resources. However, be aware that influence is not something static, but it evolves continuously, i.e. certain MEPs become more influential as they gain more experience in the EP and in international affairs in general, or because their party comes to power in their country, etc. 

Irrespective of your agenda, the strategy that you should pursue is “maintain and reach out” – i. e. maintain the support of politicians that share your views (especially those that you may easily lose) and reach out to the ones in the middle to build majorities.

Example of how our tool predicts and projects the positions of the MEPs when a key decision is made:

 
 

The chart above shows the position of each MEP on a particular proposal, namely the guarantee that anti-pandemic vaccines and treatments should become a global public good. The dots are now colored in green (MEPs who voted in favour), red (MEP voted against) and yellow (MEP abstained). 

As the tool predicted, generally speaking, MEPs who push for a market-based approach to health policy voted against the initiative, while MEPs who favour a greater role of public services (on the left of the chart) voted that the upcoming Covid-19 vaccine becomes a global public good. In the middle, the pro-market campaign managed to convince the moderated MEPs, while the supporters of the vaccine being a public good failed to capture these MEPs, which also explains the final outcome (rejection of the proposal). 

Hence, the supporters of the initiative concentrated on the left side of the majority (among left-wing groups) did not manage to persuade enough middle-ground MEPs to join them and secure the proposal they were defending. This is, once again, a striking example of the crucial role that kingmakers play in the majority-building of each initiative. 

Below, another example of coalition-building on health policy, leading to a different outcome. Other examples are available upon request, for example, EU health coordination strategy, the funding of health initiatives such as EU4Health, anti-microbial resistance, Health Technology Assessment (HTA) and much more! For more information, contact us at [email protected]

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Who are the key MEPs ? 

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This analysis is part of VoteWatch Premium Service. To read the full analysis you need to log-in with a PREMIUM account. If you don't have one, contact us at  [email protected]