Thursday 7 August 2008

How active is your MEP?

Blogger and reader of this blog, Falk Lueke, has pointed out to me a wonderful site that could become a nice toy for all of us covering European Union politics.

On this site, the Institute for Public Policy Bucharest ('Institutul pentru Politici Publice București') is presenting data on all MEPs' activities at the European Parliament, including attendance in plenary sessions, motions for resolutions and loyalty to their political groups and countries.

You can research the activities of individual members, of political groups, countries etc. It is possible to rank them according to their activities and you can play with facts and figures that would otherwise necessitate quite some research activity. From a first glance, I would say that the presentation is quite well done and easily to understand, something that will most probably ease the search of specific information.

That there are some limits to the data is explained in the "About"-section. The most important are:
  • The data only goes back to September 2007 and it is based on the public documentation of the European Parliament. Incomplete documentation on the website could therefore lead to underreporting for certain MEPs or certain activities not covered there.
  • The figures concerning votes only refer to electronically registered roll-calls, which means that many less important votes are left out. The statistical results (measured in the differences between MEPs) will therefore be more noticeable (that is, contentious) than in reality where more consensual votes do not need an extra roll-call.
So please, interpret the figures with some caution!

But despite these limits, we can extract quite some details from the data already collected and presented and I am looking forward getting deeper into it as soon as I have some more time.

By the way: This could also be a nice tool for the European Parliament election campaign...


Jon Worth said...

I agree it will be handy - there is a lot of good data buried in there. More here and here for yet another tool.

Julien Frisch said...

I see... I am only 4 month late with my discovery. :-D

Anonymous said...

Of course the next step would be to include a social dimension, a more interactive way to contact MEPs and make them accountable for what they are doing! Examples such as
abgeordnetenwatch in Germany (which includes MEPs!)
or theyworkforyou in the UK (without MEPs) have quite some interesting concepts how that can be done.

Julien Frisch said...

Yes, I agree, although this is definitely not the task of the IPP in Bucharest.

The European Parliament should provide such a service (which I would almost regard as a duty) to EU citizens (and beyond) as a sign that it is not just a self-referential political body that apart from being elected every five years has not much to do with the public.

Until that day (or the day a private initiative takes up this task), we as bloggers have to try to construct such incredible accusations out of the data available that the Parliament will be forced to react in one way or another... ;-)

Anonymous said...

I was of course not referring to the IPP for this task! It was a more an observation what is missing on the European level.

Indeed, it would be a good European project, probably the money would be better invested than in the project.

However, the above mentioned projects all run as civil society projects, as far as I know without any finance from governmental bodies. I think it is better if these "watchdog" - projects are financed without EU money, although maybe more important is the external administration of such a project...

I somehow doubt that the present blogosphere is enough to keep an eye on all the MEPs. But it might be a good idea to pick a few extreme cases and make a big fuzz about them...