Public Policy Bulletin, 3 May 2019

May 02, 2019

This week we look at the role MEPs play in the European Parliament as well as the political manifestos of some of the larger parties in the Parliament.

The role of MEPs in the European Parliament

MEPs represent the interests of EU citizens as well as those of their city or region in Europe. MEPs engage with people who have local and national concerns, interest groups and businesses. MEPs can question and lobby the European Commission and the Council of Ministers.

MEPs also have an important role to play on issues of concern for the people of the EU such as climate change, human rights and the way in which financial markets are regulated.

Daily workload

An MEPs’ daily workload is split between work for their constituents back in their home country, their work in the Parliamentary committees, the debates in their political groups as well as debates and votes in the plenary sessions.

MEPs attend many meetings including that of their Parliamentary committees and their political groups.

They may also be part of a delegation for relations with non EU-countries which might require occasional travel outside the EU.

Parliamentary committees

MEPs are divided up into a number of specialised committees.  This is done in order to carry out preparatory work for the Parliament’s plenary sittings.  At the moment, there are 20 such committees.  Between 25 and 73 MEPs make up a committee and the political balance of the committee reflects that of the overall Parliament. 

The committees meet once or twice per month in Brussels, draw up the subjects to be discussed by MEPs and hold public debates.  The committees draw up, amend and adopt legislative proposals and own-initiative reports. They consider Commission and Council proposals and, where necessary, draw up reports to be presented to the plenary assembly.

Examples of committees are Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and Budgetary Control. Sub-committees can also be established to investigate specific issues.

Political groupings

Last week we looked at the 8 political parties that MEPs can align themselves with.  This week we look at the main points contained within the manifesto’s of the four largest parties in the EU at the 2014 elections.

The EPP – Group of the European People’s Party

The EPP wants to renew Europe.  It wants to protect EU citizens by joining together to stop illegal migration, fight terrorism and organised crime and combat climate change.

In terms of protecting EU borders, the EPP wants to appoint 10,000 new officers with the latest technology.

The party wants equal opportunities for women in the labour market and also wants to improve trade defence and systematic foreign investment screening to protect jobs.  The party wants to create five million additional jobs by negotiating new free trade deals and supporting entrepreneurism.  The EPPs want fair taxes for everyone including the introduction of a “Digital Fair Tax”. Read the party’s manifesto

The S&D – Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament

The S&D want to change the leadership and policy direction of the EU; leading to an EU that better serves its people.  The party wants the EU to overcome inequality, fight for tax justice, tackle climate change, manage migration, ensure fair agricultural transformation and take advantage of the digital revolution.

The party wants to ensure fairness for all EU citizens and reduce the concentration of wealth and property in the hands of the few.  Poverty must be prevented by building strong welfare states, having a decent minimum wage and quality public services.  The party wants to bring an end to austerity policies, reform the Eurozone and its budget.  The party will continue its fight against tax evasion, tax avoidance and aggressive tax planning and proposes that profits are taxed where they are generated.   In terms of migration, the party wants a fair common asylum and migration policy across Europe that’s built on solidarity with the other member states and cooperation with countries of origin and transit. Read the party’s manifesto.

The ECR – The European Conservatives and Reformists Group

The ECR wants to see an EU that goes back to basics, and delivers results on the core reasons why Member States joined the EU in the first place. The ECR Group is working hard to ensure that the EU decentralises powers back to national capitals, town halls and to families and individuals.

The ECR Group will continue to promote a wider agenda of a long-term plan of European reform as the means of making the EU more flexible, open and economically vibrant.

The party believes that European laws and policies should only be adopted where absolutely necessary and when they add value for the citizens. The EU should better attempt to end over-regulation, excessive bureaucracy and intrusions into areas of national sovereignty.

The party believes that Europe must be allowed to develop flexibly so that countries can together pursue scientific, energy, transport, industrial and cultural projects of genuine European interest. Read the party’s manifesto.

ALDE – Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe

The ALDE has a liberal vision and wants to develop individual freedoms, prosperity and stability and move away from times of nationalism and growing authoritarianism.  The ALDE want a free, democratic, entrepreneurial, prosperous, sustainable and united Europe that is open to the world.

The party wants the EU to lead in a changing world and wants the Member States to better reach compromises on reform within the EU and move away from the status quo. 

The party wants to reform EU institutions, boost infrastructure, invest in education and make Europe ready for digitalisation.  The ALDE wants a common rule for migration and asylum and to simplify bureaucracy and ensure equal opportunities for citizens. They believe that more trade deals should be sought by the EU and SMEs must be supported to encourage job creation and entrepreneurism.

The party wants the EU to become a carbon neutral economy and wants a single European energy market to be completed.  Read the party’s manifesto

Next week we will look in more detail at the manifestos of the other political parties as well as a focus on some of the tax policies.