VoteWatch Analytical Tool: Uncover which MEPs can help you advance your agenda. Part 4: Tax 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 identify kingmakers and swing-voters among MEPs. This tool is already been used by key stakeholders active in EU policy-making.

We show the positions of each MEP on key parts of the EU push towards tax harmonisation and highlight which MEPs are convinced (on either side), and which remain to be brought on board to secure majorities.

Check out similar analyses on other policy areas (e.g. climate, trade, etc.) here. ____________________________________________________

Use this analytical tool to spot:

a) how influential MEPs are in a given policy area and

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

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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. 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 can work with MEPs in this John Harper Publishing's new book – How to Work with the EU Institutions: A Practical Guide to Successful Public Affairs in the EU.

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

 

Above you will see the position of each MEP on the push to harmonise the EU fiscal policy (each interactive dot holds the information about an MEP). MEPs who are placed to the right of this chart support a greater harmonisation of European fiscal policies (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 European taxes should not be encouraged. The level of influence of each MEP is displayed on the vertical axis: the higher an MEP is placed on that axis, the greater the influence this MEP exerts over EU taxation policy decisions.

The level of influence (up to October) of each is displayed on the vertical axis: the higher an MEP is placed on that axis, the greater the influence that MEP exerts over EU taxation policy decisions. 

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 the 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). Rollover 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. 

Unsurprisingly, the cleavages in the Parliament seem rather clear-cut when it comes to taxation issues. Among the most supportive of increased tax harmonisation in the EU can be found the traditional left-wing groups, namely GUE/NGL, the Greens, and S&D (even if the latter experiences some strong dissenters from a few national delegations). The level of division is even greater within Renew Europe, which holds an overall intermediate position: some members of the group tend to be rather supportive, whereas others are closer to the position of the EPP. 

For its part, the center-right group tends to keep an intermediate position on taxation issues, supporting several initiatives like the Digital Services Tax (DST) or the enhanced cooperation on the Financial Transaction Tax (FTT), while expressing some concerns on the level of these taxes. Yet, while the core of the EPP stands close to the overall majority line, some members are more critical than the rest of the group and find themselves close to ECR, which is the most opposed to EU tax initiatives, alongside Alternative for Germany and other ID members. 

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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 Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON). 

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 increasing and harmonising tax rates across the EU is a good idea 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 fiscal 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 the MEPs’ support and influence on tax harmonisation in general. However, MEPs and national parties can have different views on specific aspects of taxation matters such as the optimal tax rate, the progressiveness of this rate, or the broadness of the tax base. For instance, even though a majority of S&D MEPs rejected the proposal to introduce a minimum 20% corporate tax rate, they support a lower minimum rate, such as 18%. 

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” – ie. 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. 

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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 implementation of a minimum corporate tax rate (18%) across the EU. 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 are reluctant to increased taxation (on the left of the chart) rejected the initiative, while MEPs who favour a more ambitious EU fiscal policy (on the right of the chart) approved the proposal. The battleground was the MEPs in the middle, where the fiscal moderation campaign managed to capture more central MEPs than the pro taxation campaign, which also explains the final outcome (rejection of the proposal).

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

Below, another example of coalition-building on taxation issues, leading to a completely different outcome. Other examples are available upon request: country-by-country reporting, digital services tax, financial transaction tax, plastics tax and much more! For more information, contact us at [email protected]

 
 

Who are the key MEPs ? 

To continue reading this report and visualising the names of the MEPs in the trade policy matrix you need to log in with your premium account. If you don’t have a premium subscription with VoteWatch yet, contact us to discuss the terms.

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]

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