VoteWatch Analytical Tool: Uncover which MEPs can help you advance your agenda. Part 6: Digital 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 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 upcoming Digital Services Act (DSA) 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, 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. 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?

 

Above you see the position of each MEP on the proposals to further regulate the digital sector (each interactive dot holds the information about an MEP). MEPs who are placed to the right of this chart support stronger regulation of the digital sector (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 adding regulation is not 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, Renew Europe seems to be closer to S&D than EPP. This means that the centrist group is more likely to join a left-wing coalition, thus pushing for stricter regulation of new technologies. Conversely, the EPP is slightly more isolated in pushing for a free-market approach, but the presence of influential EPP MEPs help attenuate this phenomenon. 

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 Special Committee on Artificial Intelligence in a Digital Age (AIDA).

 

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 regulating the digital sector 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 digital regulatory 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 digital policy in general. However, MEPs and national parties can have nuanced views on different aspects of the European digital framework. For instance, the Swedish ruling party (Arbetarepartiet, S&D) supports stricter rules on privacy online, but does not go as far as pushing for the suspension of the Privacy Shield between the EU and the US, unlike the rest of the group.

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 deployment of AI and related technologies for recognition purposes. 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 further regulation (on the left of the chart) voted to increase the use of AI, while MEPs who want further regulation (on the right of the chart) voted to limit the use of AI. The battleground was the MEPs in the middle, where the pro-regulation campaign managed to capture more moderated MEPs than the pro-free market campaign, which also explains the final outcome (rejection of the proposal).

The supporters of the initiative, concentrated on the left side of the majority line (among right-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 kingmakers play in the majority-building of each initiative. 

Below, another example of coalition-building on digital topics, leading to a completely different outcome. Other examples are available upon request, for example liability of online marketplaces, good samaritan clauses, revision of competition rules in the digital sphere, data protection and much more! For more information, contact us at [email protected] 

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Who are the key MEPs ? 

To continue reading this report and visualising the names of the MEPs in the digital 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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