Friday

9th Dec 2022

MEP transparency vote delayed 'until further notice'

  • 'The democratic legitimacy of the European Union is being called into question' (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

The two largest political groups in the European Parliament are currently blocking a rule that would increase voting transparency at the committee level.

Both the centre-right EPP and the centre-left S&D groups on Thursday (6 February) delayed placing on the plenary agenda a procedural change that would require final legislative votes in committees to be electronically recorded and published for public scrutiny.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

“It makes no sense for parliamentarians to refuse to disclose how they vote from their electorate – unless they have something to hide,” said Liberal leader Guy Verhofstadt in a statement.

The issue was already discussed in January and was originally on this week’s Strasbourg plenary agenda but then got postponed to the plenary in the second half of February.

The two groups on Thursday at a closed-door meeting at the parliament’s conference of presidents, which organises plenary agenda items, managed to a secure a further delay by asking that the matter be discussed once more on 11 February.

The new delay makes the scheduled vote for the second half of February uncertain.

Current final committee votes is either taken by a show of hands, or, more rarely, by a so-called roll call vote where the MEPs use an electronic device that registers their names and how they voted.

MEPs’ votes in committee are only published if specifically requested and with the support of 25 percent of the committee members.

The new rule would make roll call votes mandatory.

A spokesperson at the centre-left group told this website in an email the European Parliament needs room for manoeuvre and flexibility in negotiations, which often evolve between committee and plenary.

“Roll-call votes in committee might be seen as fixing the position of members in the negotiations,” he said.

Pro-transparency groups point out the real decision-making on legislation in the parliament is often made at the committee levels.

They also point out a growing trend for legislative drafts to skip plenary sessions altogether and go straight to inter-institutional negotiations, making it difficult for ordinary people to ascertain how their elected officials voted in the first place.

Opponents argue making them public could obstruct negotiations among MEPs, rendering the legislative process more difficult.

“In theory, the argument against it is that you are taking away the space for negotiations between MEPs and that you in a way obstruct parliamentary work by tracking every individual’s vote,” noted another contact at the centre-left group, who did not want to be named because the party had yet to take an official line.

Legislative swaps, whereby an MEP or a group of MEPs make concessions to the opposing camp on a proposal in exchange for something else would also be more difficult, added the source.

The conservative camp was more direct.

EPP spokesperson Pedro Lopez said there are political consequences to full voting disclosures.

“Sometimes when we are negotiating legislative files, the agreement between the groups is done by the coordinators and sometimes the coordinator of the different political groups in a committee reach deals,” he said.

Lopez said full disclosure reduces the margins of negotiations between the political groups because everyone’s position would be clear.

He pointed out that the EPP is not against the rule as such but that it needs further discussion so that MEPs are fully informed of the proposal and its consequences on future legislative deliberations.

Olivier Hoedeman at the Brussels-base Corporate Europe Observatory said there are no convincing arguments against full transparency in the voting process at the parliament committees.

“Everybody who follows EU-decision making will know that committee votes are absolutely crucial and in many cases, that’s where the real decisions are made,” he said.

Opinion

A plea to the EU from inside Tehran's Evin jail

As a result of my peaceful civil activism, I have been arrested 13 times, undergone five trials, and been sentenced to 34 years of imprisonment and 154 lashes in total. I am currently in Evrin prison, without the slightest regret.

Opinion

A plea to the EU from inside Tehran's Evin jail

As a result of my peaceful civil activism, I have been arrested 13 times, undergone five trials, and been sentenced to 34 years of imprisonment and 154 lashes in total. I am currently in Evrin prison, without the slightest regret.

Illegal pushbacks happening daily in Croatia, says NGO

More than 1,600 testimonies of alleged illegal pushbacks of migrants and refugees throughout the EU has been published, collated by the Border Violence Monitoring Network and the Left party — adding to the mounting evidence of abuse.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos

Latest News

  1. A plea to the EU from inside Tehran's Evin jail
  2. EU lets Croatia into Schengen, keeps Bulgaria and Romania out
  3. Energy crisis costs thousands of EU jobs, but industrial output stable
  4. Illegal pushbacks happening daily in Croatia, says NGO
  5. No, Bosnia and Herzegovina is not ready for the EU
  6. EU takes legal action against China over Lithuania
  7. EU Commission shoring up children's rights of same-sex parents
  8. The military-industrial complex cashing-in on the Ukraine war

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  2. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  4. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us