In the run-up to the European elections, some websites are trying to monitor MEPs according to their attendance in plenary sessions and committee meetings. But in practice the task is proving extremely difficult. EURACTIV France contributed to this report.
Last week, one such website, www.parlorama.eu, was forced to shut down after its initiator was flooded with complaints from MEPs.
Flavien Deltort, a former MEP’s assistant from Italy, had attempted to rate parliamentarians according to their attendance in plenary sessions, committee meetings and broader participation in parliamentary life.
But only two days after launching his website last week, Deltort was forced to close it down “due to the overwhelming volume of complaints”. Threatened with prosecution by many MEPs, he decided to temporary close the website.
Deltort, who served as an assistant to Italian Liberal MEP Marco Cappato, had attempted to achieve what his former boss had called for in a proposal put forward last January to provide “a public analysis of MEPs’ attendance”.
Deltort based its classification on seven groups of publicly available data: attendance in plenary sessions, attendance in committee meetings, adopted reports, adopted opinions, adopted resolutions, written questions tabled by MEPs, and oral questions asked during plenary sessions.
A quantitative method
However, this quantitative method chosen by Deltort failed to take into account other parliamentary activities. Indeed, within hours of the service going online, several MEPs had already protested against the website.
In particular, MEPs complained that time-consuming activities carried out by political group coordinators or parliamentary committee presidents and vice-presidents had not been taken into account.
Others stressed the role of so-called “shadow rapporteurs” regarding sensitive political dossiers, or the time MEPs spend in their constituencies or in external missions as observers.
In addition, not all parliamentary reports carry the same political importance, with some heavy files requiring serious coordination with member-state representatives, and others requiring little extra work due to their smaller significance.
Speaking at a press conference in Strasbourg, Deltort admitted that his ranking was “not a scientific study,” conceding that “some data is missing to appreciate MEPs’ work properly”.
However, he also stressed that such data was not publicly available and was thus impossible to measure.
Best and worst MEPs
In some countries, Deltort’s study produced surprising results. Indeed, Eurosceptic British MEP Robert Kilroy-Silk received the highest rating with regard to parliamentary activity for the UK, as he is the author of about 1,600 written questions to the European Commission.
In France, the MEP with the highest ranking (in 61st place) is Socialist member Pervenche Berès, who campaigned against the EU’s Consitutional Treaty in the 2005 referendum. And in Poland, Maciej Giertych, a Eurosceptic from the League of Polish Families, is in the national top ten.
According to the list, the three best-performing MEPs are Greek centre-right member Marie Panayotopoulos-Cassiotou, Spanish Green Raül Romeva i Rueda and Portuguse Socialist Paulo Casaca.
The three worst performers were Umberto Bossi, leader of the Lega Nord, Polish centre-right and race pilot Krzysztof Ho?owczyc, and French Communist Paul Vergès.