Tuesday

12th Dec 2017

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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

“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

Iceland: further from EU membership than ever

With fewer pro-EU MPs in the Iceland parliament than ever before, any plans to resume 'candidate' membership of the bloc are likely to remain on ice, as the country prioritises national sovereignty and a more left-wing path.

Romania wants EU signal on Schengen membership

Bucharest expects other member states to decide on its accession to the passport-free area before it takes the rotating EU presidency on 1 January 2019 - amid criticism of a controversial new justice reform.

News in Brief

  1. EU to Israel: Don't expect us to move embassies
  2. EU Commission condemns anti-semitic 'Jerusalem' protests
  3. Ministers have 'lots of questions' on new CAP plans
  4. Commission: Brexit agreement is 'deal between gentlemen'
  5. 25 EU states sign defence cooperation pact
  6. Netanyahu wants 'hardy' talks with EU on Jerusalem
  7. French centre-right elects new leader
  8. Germany and UK increase arms sales

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  2. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  3. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  5. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  6. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  7. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  8. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?
  9. Mission of China to the EU16+1 Cooperation Injects New Vigour Into China-EU Ties
  10. EPSUEU Blacklist of Tax Havens Is a Sham
  11. EU2017EERole of Culture in Building Cohesive Societies in Europe
  12. ILGA EuropeCongratulations to Austria - Court Overturns Barriers to Equal Marriage

Latest News

  1. Alignment with EU is 'last resort', May tells MPs
  2. Iceland: further from EU membership than ever
  3. Israel presses Jerusalem claim in EU capital
  4. From dark coal toward a brighter future
  5. UK casts doubt on EU deal in 'bizarre' twist
  6. Romania wants EU signal on Schengen membership
  7. Germany says China using LinkedIn to recruit informants
  8. No chance of expanding EU warrant crime list

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Centre Maurits CoppietersCelebrating Diversity, Citizenship and the European Project With Fundació Josep Irla
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceUnderstanding the Social Consequences of Obesity
  3. Union for the MediterraneanMediterranean Countries Commit to Strengthening Women's Role in Region
  4. Bio-Based IndustriesRegistration for BBI JU Stakeholder Forum about to close. Last chance to register!
  5. European Heart NetworkThe Time Is Ripe for Simplified Front-Of-Pack Nutrition Labelling
  6. Counter BalanceNew EU External Investment Plan Risks Sidelining Development Objectives
  7. EU2017EEEAS Calls for Eastern Partnership Countries to Enter EU Market Through Estonia
  8. Dialogue PlatformThe Turkey I No Longer Know
  9. World Vision7 Million Children at Risk in the DRC: Donor Meeting to Focus on Saving More Lives
  10. EPSU-Eurelectric-IndustriAllElectricity European Social Partners Stand up for Just Energy Transition
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaSignature of CEPA Marks a Fresh Start for EU-Armenia Relations
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Ministers Pledge to Work More Closely at Nordic and EU Level