The European Commission has just launched its new legislative (Winter) package that will substantially reform the energy market of the European Union. However, in order for these ideas to be transposed into actual EU law, they must first pass through the democratic filter of the European Parliament and the Council. This analysis looks into who are the Members of the European Parliament that are currently exerting the greatest influence on energy-related issues and who are likely to be the spearheads in shaping the newly released dossiers. The study also shows which national groups are currently holding the strings of power in the European Parliament and, at the other end, which ones have still to use their full influence potential.
This is the fourth VoteWatch report that looks into how and who exerts influence in the European Parliament. Our first report in this series assessed the MEPs’ influence across all policy areas, while the next two have mapped the influence on EU’s neighborhood policy and trade policy. Another series of VoteWatch reports looks into the views of individual MEPs on various sectors. For example, our first report in this series maps the views of all MEPs on trade policy, while the second will address the energy policy, combining the current assessment of MEP’s influence with the MEPs’ views to create a unique energy policy power matrix.
Why are we doing this?
The information regarding who is influential on what in the European Parliament is fundamental to the public, who needs to be aware of the personalities that shape the policies affecting over 500 million citizens. The institutions as a whole, and in this case the EU institutions, take responsibility for their decisions and their implementation. However, in order to strengthen the democratic processes, the citizens and stakeholders also need to know which politicians within the institutions are playing a bigger role in shaping these decisions. This is especially the case of EU’s institutions, whose complexity have led many citizens to feel disengaged with the political system, in the relative absence of (locally-known) human faces that they can easily associate decisions with.
Equally important, many MEPs have pointed out that they find it very difficult to communicate to their own constituents the importance of the work that they do in Brussels and Strasbourg. For this reason, MEPs argue that their contributions are not fully recognised by the local/national public arenas, hence their own leverage in the debates “at home” is sometimes disproportionally small compared to the local/national politicians’ ones. This process affects the European construction as a whole. Our initiative also aims at providing the public with a tool to get to know better the work of the MEPs, the areas they are active on and the level of influence they hold (other reports done by VoteWatch also show the actual views of the MEPs on all subjects). As the main collector of data on EU political decisions, VoteWatch Europe has been asked by the public to come up with a solid and scientific method that would ensure a multi-faceted and more objective approach.
Our assessments are based on concrete facts (activities undertaken, votes cast) combined with human insights from politicians, staffers and experts who have advised us on putting together the list of criteria and weighting them (click here to read more about methodology).
How to assess the most influential MEPs on EU energy policy?
We have built the algorithm on the basis of insights from more than 200 experts in EU affairs, most of which interact with EP documents or MEPs on a daily or weakly basis. These insiders have suggested and weighted the criteria, that we have then populated with actual data. For example, among the most important criteria, the respondents attributed particular importance to the MEPs holding important positions within either the Committees in the EP or the political groups. In terms of activities, drafting reports was deemed to be the most important task for an MEP to exert influence.
Notably, as with our assessment on the most influential MEPs on trade, we took into account the participation, the winning rates and the consensus of MEPs with their own political groups on energy-related dossiers. Check the annex at the end of this article to see the criteria we used the and the full scoring system.
Who are the most influential MEPs on energy policy?
Not surprisingly, the Chair of the dedicated Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, Jerzy Buzek, is the most influential MEP on energy policy. Buzek, who was the President of European Parliament until 2012, is also the current President of the European Energy Forum, a group promoting debate on energy-related issues. He is also the rapporteur on the measures to safeguard the security of gas supply. Buzek’s influence diminished in the last year since his party lost control of government in Poland, but remains, nevertheless, highly influential on EU’s energy policy.
A Luxembourgish MEP, Claude Turmes, is the second classified in our ranking. The member of the Greens is one of the founding members of the European Parliamentary Network on Energy Solutions, as well as a patron of European Council for an Energy Efficient Economy. He was also shadow rapporteur for the Greens on the measures to safeguard the security of gas supply, as well as the European Energy Union. Last but not least, he is the political coordinator of the Greens/EFA in ITRE.
On the third place we find an MEP from Denmark, the Liberal Morten Helveg Petersen. Among others, the member of the Danish Social Liberal Party is one of the founding members of the European Parliamentary Network on Energy Solutions, as well as one of Vice-Chairs of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy. He was appointed as the shadow rapporteur for ALDE on reports related to the European Energy Union, the EU strategy on heating and cooling and many others.
A Latvian MEP from the Unity party, Krišjānis Kariņš, occupies the fourth place in our list. He is the political coordinator of EPP in the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and he was the shadow rapporteur for the EPP on European statistics on natural gas and electricity prices.
Our top 5 on the most influential MEPs on energy policy is closed by an Italian member of the 5 Star Movement, Dario Tamburrano. He was the rapporteur on energy efficiency labeling, as well as the shadow rapporteur for EFDD on several files, such as the EU strategy on heating and cooling and the ones related to energy security.
Right behind Tamburrano, there is Ian Duncan, a member of the UK’s Conservative Party. The Tory MEP is also one of the founding members of the European Parliamentary Network on Energy Solutions and he worked as a shadow rapporteur for ECR on files related to interconnectivity and energy efficiency.
On the seventh place, there is a Member of the Czech Social Democratic Party, Miroslav Poche (S&D). He was the shadow rapporteur for S&D on the European energy security strategy and on the Implementation report on the Energy Efficiency Directive.
A German, Werner Langen is the eigth most influential MEP on energy policy. The CDU’s member drafted a report on a new energy market design and he is a member of the European Energy Forum.
Tied with Langen at the eighth place we found a Polish member of ECR, Zdzisław Krasnodębski. He is the political coordinator of ECR in the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and he is the rapporteur on information exchange mechanism for Member State/third country intergovernmental agreements in the field of energy.
At the tenth place, we found a member of the Italian Democratic Party, Patrizia Toia. She is a Vice-Chair of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy.
Central Europeans and Nordic MEPs are, on average, the most influential on energy policy
Building on the individual performance of MEPs, we also calculated which national delegations are, on average, the most influential on the topic. With only few exceptions, MEPs from Central and Northern Europe have more clout on shaping EU’s energy strategy than their colleagues from Southern and Western Europe. One of the most prominent factor in this regard is the higher perception of Russia as a threat across some of these Member States. In fact, one of the objectives of the Energy Union is the reduction of EU’s dependence on Russia’s gas supplies. This dependence is higher in the case of Central European countries and the Baltics, rather than the Western European States.
It is also worth noting the relatively high influence of British MEPs, compared to that of their colleagues from the other large Member States of the European Union. On the other hand, not many French and Spanish MEPs are systematically working on energy policy.
Inevitably, the size of the country, and hence of party delegations, does have an impact. When we look at the accumulated influence of MEPs from each country, the Germans still come on top, due to their sheer numbers. However, one needs to take into account that, in practice, numbers are relevant only if MEPs have the same views, which does not happen just because MEPs come from the same country. For example, German CDU Members have very different views than the German Greens when it comes to the speed of the transition to renewable energy sources. Similarly, the SPD is much less convinced that the dependence on Russia is a big problem than the CDU MEPs are. The same type of divisions are noticeable in all the other member states. For this reason, VoteWatch Europe will conduct a second part of this study which will also map the views of each MEP on energy-related issues.
For more information about the work of each Member of the European Parliament or national parties, speaking engagements and media requests feel free to contact us at [email protected].
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