Members of the EP (MEPs)
For a detailed overview of all the roles MEPs can play, click here.
Who are they?
There are currently 754 Members of the European Parliaments (referred to as “MEPs”), representing all 27 Member States. They come from a very diverse background, including
- Many are former members of national parliaments (about 35%) or former ministers or equivalent (about 15%), at both senior and junior levels.
- About one third (35%) of the MEPs are women, Malta (with no women), Luxemburg and the Czech Republic ranking lowest, and Finland (with 62%), Sweden and Estonia being the frontrunners.
- Some are also the leaders of their national political party (mostly smaller parties)
- Some are former Commissioners of the European Commission.
- Some have held important Regional Office Functions, whilst others are former or even serving mayors.
- Finally, MEPs also include former judges, trade union leaders, media personalities as well as quite a few doctors, lawyers and academics.
Since 2004, they can no longer hold a dual mandate (except for a few legacy cases in Ireland and the UK).
Where are they?
The European Parliament is spread over different locations and MEPs also need to keep in touch with their national electorate. Consequently, they move locations quite frequently:
- 1 week a month in Strasbourg France for plenary (weeks usually stretching from Tuesday to Thursday).
- Up to 3 weeks a month in Brussels in Committee, plenary and Political Group meetings (though the latter sometimes take place in more exotic locations).
- Occasionally in other countries, notably in the framework of their Delegations work.
- And a couple of days per week (including weekends) in their home constituency.
…so contrary to what some may thing, MEPs do not do NOTHING. One can actually wonder if they do not do TOO MUCH.
What do they do?
Member of the Parliament is their generic heading but behind that lovely “MEP” acronym lies a diversity of functions and roles that shape the respective powers of each MEP and hence their “attractiveness” to lobbyists.
Due to the complexe nature of these roles, we have put an overview here.
Why would they care?
Approaching an MEP must always be carefully evaluated.
An MEP might care about the issue that concerns you for multiple reasons:
- Because of their nationality and, even more specifically, the constituency they represent within the Parliament. For example, an MEP from a region where the automotive industry is crucial in supplying jobs to his electorate will obviously be easier to approach if that is the industry you represent (directly or indirectly).
- Because of their membership to specific Committees or delegations.
- Because of their past careers. Some MEPs were teachers, whilst others worked in various companies and obviously have a greater understanding of the industries that they worked in (which does not always imply an affinity).
- Because of a “pet” interest that can be spotted in past press release, interventions, motions, questions, etc.
Good to know
The turnover in MEPs from one election to another (and even between elections) is high and averages just under 50 %
. Moreover, less than 5 % of the MEPs have long-standing careers in the European Parliament that stretch over 15 years.
In practice, this means the contacts made in the EP must be renewed on a regular basis. It also means in some cases that the MEP you knew in Brussels, can now be a national contact you should maintain in his home country. Former MEPs often have very active political careers after the EP, as Ministers, Prime Ministers and even Presidents or in European affairs roles. Some have actually gone back and forth between the EP and a national role.
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