UPDATE (2009-12-09): For a list of 2009-2014 intergroups, there is a more recent article!
Although I am quite passionate about EU-related topics, I am not an EU-insider. So while blogging, I am still learning.
Today, reading a scientific article on NGO participation in EU law-making, I stumbled over a term I haven't heard before:
"are informal bodies of MEPs with membership from different political groups from within the European Parliament. While intergroups are not considered organs of the European Parliament, officially recognised intergroups are resourced by the Parliament with meeting space and translation facilities."D. Chabanet calls them "a blind spot in parliamentary life", and in line with Corporate Europe the argumentation highlights these intergroups, which in general seem to be organising pre-decision and issue-related co-ordination across political groups, as (possible and sometimes obvious) room for lobbyist activities and uncontrollable external funding.
It is also made clear that the regulation on intergroups introduced by the heads of the parliamentary groups in 1999 (here in a .doc version from 2004), which was intended to make their work more transparent, led to less transparency, because several of those groups withdraw from the inside of the Parliament and continued working in the unregulated space outside its buildings.
These intergroups received only minor attention in a 2008 resolution of the parliament on transparency and lobbying, and in debates taking place in the time before this resolution was adopted, it looks like intergroups are rather defended by MEPs than criticised.
A list of groups I could find in EP documents since 2004 available online (supplemented by some found via internet research and in this document):
- Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup (Chair: Claude Moraes)
- ATD Quart Monde (Fourth World Intergroup, the oldest group) (Chair: Íñigo Méndez de Vigo)
- Baltic Europe Intergroup (Christopher Beazley)
- Cinema, Audiovisual policy and Cultural Diversity Intergroup (Chair: Ruth Hieronymi)
- Disability Intergroup (Chair: Richard Howitt)
- European Constitution Intergroup
- Gay and Lesbian Rights Intergroup (Chair: Michael Cashman
- Intergroup for Animal Welfare (Chair: Neil Parish)
- Intergroup for traditional national minorities (President Csaba Sándor TABAJDI)
- Intergroup on Ageing (several Co-Chairs, inter alia: Mihael Brejc)
- Intergroup on Bioethics (Chair: Hiltrud Breyer)
- Intergroup on Careers
- Intergroup on Conservation and Sustainable Development (Chair: Struan Stevenson)
- Intergroup on Family and Protection of Childhood (Chair Marie Panayotopoulos)
- Intergroup on Health and Consumer Protection (Chairs: Pilar Ayuso Gonzalez, Beatrice Patrie)
- Intergroup on Hunting (President Michl Ebner)
- Intergroup on Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) (Chair: Othmar Karas)
- Intergroup on Tibet (Chair: Thomas Mann)
- Intergroup on Volunteering
- Intergroup on Wine (Viticulture-Tradition-Quality Intergroup) (Chair Astrid Lulling)
- Land Use and Food Policy Intergroup (Chair: Paulo Casaca)
- Rugby League Intergroup
- Social Economy Intergroup (Chairs: Elisa Ferreira, Mario Mauro)
- SOS Democracy Intergroup (Chair: Jens-Peter Bonde
- Sports Intergroup (Chair: Chris Heaton-Harris)
- Trade Union Coordination Group; formerly Trade Union Intergroup (Chair: Stephen Hughes
- Tourism Intergroup (Chair: Margie Sudre)
- Urban (Housing) Intergroup (Chair Jean Marie Beaupuy)
- Informal intergroup Friends of India
This is all I could find through a comparatively quick search on the websites of the European Parliament, but the 2006 report by Corporate Europe linked above names even more.
The topic deserves follow-up, in particular because I have seen that a number of these groups have websites (as the one on hunting), which need to be further analysed. I suppose we can also find more detailed information in other sources and with a more refined research method.
If anyone has more details, hints, remarks, suggestions, I would be more than ready to take these up and to continue this in the future.
(Updated with some additional groups, several names of Chairpersons, and links on 07 and 10 May 2009)