Tuesday

20th Aug 2019

Opinion

Portugal, Ireland beat Germany on EP top jobs

The question of which countries get the best jobs in the EU institutions has always generated strong interest.

Total numbers show that Germany tends to dominate.

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Allison Mandry, from the Bruegel think tank, recently wrote about it.

Charles de Marcilly, from the Robert Schuman Foundation, has also studied the distribution of important posts in the European Parliament’s seventh tenure.

But total numbers tell just part of the story.

To compare success rates more accurately, you should consider the countries’ relative size.

If you’re looking at the EU parliament, for instance, you should consider how many MEPs any given state posts to Brussels.

Following last May’s elections, MEPs competed for influential jobs in the bureau, in committees, in delegations, and in their own political groups in the assembly's eighth tenure.

Committees and delegations are led by chairmen and vice-chairmen. Political groups designate treasurers and committee co-ordinators, among other posts.

The full list amounts to 487, more or less, influential positions up for grabs.

Looking at the bureau, the EU assembly’s administration, most states aren’t represented due to the small number of jobs available: one president, 14 vice-presidents, and five so-called quaestors.

The president, Martin Schulz, is from Germany, which posts 96 MEPs.

Ireland

But if you consider relative size, Ireland (which elects just 11 MEPs and has one bureau vice-president) is the most successful. It’s followed by Finland (13 MEPs, one vice-president), then Romania (32 MEPs, two vice-presidents).

If you do the same maths on committees and sub-committees, the Czech Republic (21 MEPs, one committee chairman, and seven vice-chairmen) is top.

Tiny Malta is second. It has six MEPs and two vice-chairmen. Poland, a large country, but with four chairmen and eight vice chairmen, is third.

In delegations, Lithuania (one chairman and two vice-chairmen) comes top.

Croatia (two chairs and two vice-chairs), the newest EU state, is second. Latvia and Slovenia (one chair and two vice-chairs each) share third place.

Meanwhile, Estonia is top in political groups.

Like Malta, it has just six MEPs, but two are group vice-chairs and two are committee co-ordinators.

Belgian deputies also did well (one chairman, a co-chairman, a vice-chairman, and five co-ordinators). The Netherlands came third, with two vice-chairmen, a treasurer, and 10 co-ordinators.

If you put all the EU parliament jobs into one hat, you get another surprising result.

Portugal

Portgual comes top overall, followed by Germany, and Sweden. The least successful are Cyprus, Malta, and Ireland.

The relative-size model complicates the prevailing wisdom that old and big EU members dominate the institutions.

In fact, EU countries which joined after 2004 achieved strong results.

There’s at least one post-2004 country in the top three in all the parliament categories. Post-2004 members come top in committees and delegations.

The overall picture is more familiar.

There are six post-2004 states in the parliament’s overall top 10, but none in the top three. Three out of the four overall worst-ranked are post-2004 members.

Northerly EU states also did well overall.

Germany has a strong presence. The UK is slightly above-average, in 11th place.

But Italy is below average and France did very badly due to the far-right National Front party, which fields 20 of the 64 French MEPs, but which, until June, wasn’t part of a group.

Jan Kovar is the chief analyst at European Values, a Czech think tank

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

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