Monday 6 July 2009

Will Jerzy Buzek be a good European Parliament president? - A look at his Votewatch profile [supplemented]

After yesterday's withdrawal of the candidacy of the Italian EPP member Mario Mauro (EPP press release), it looks like Jerzy Buzek (also EPP) could become the next president of the European Parliament.

There is an excellent article in the European Voice on his political career, so there is no need for me to go through this.

What I did in addition is to take a look at his Votewatch profile for the 2004-2009 period, where you can see, inter alia,
  • that his attendance record in the plenary is just 80.87% (rank 600 out of 777 MEPs listed)
  • but that during his presence in plenary he held 73 speeches (rank 242/765),
  • while drafting four reports (129-169/533)
  • and amending 75 (53/731), with 12 of the 75 being amendments to his own reports.
Since being a "rapporteur" is considered to be the most important activity for an MEP, because this is the work with most individual influence on a specific policy issue, let us take a closer look at Mr Buzek's reports:

The newest one was the non-legislative
European strategic energy technology plan
which involved him from 30 January 2008 until 7 July 2009. This procedure doesn't make the impression of having been overly demanding.

Far more important are the three other reports, which are related to the
7th Framework Programme on research, technological development and demonstration activities
worth over 50 billion Euro for the period 2007-2013.

In the main parliamentary procedure, over 300 amendments had to be dealt with and 8 committees had to be involved under Buzek's leadership. That is a lot of work and has quite likely demanded a lot of time consuming activities, including background talks, repelling lobby attacks, and leading endless discussions on the "do-s and don't-s"...

However, if you look at the Votewatch statistics, you can see that Buzek gets credit for four reports, but in fact two of the entries are referring to exactly the same procedure, while the third report is dealing with the 7th framework programme on nuclear research, which is also directly linked to the overall process. [Supplement: During the process, Buzek, who was a 2004-2009 member of the board of the European Energy Forum, showed that he is a clear supporter of nuclear energy.]

So one can say that beside a smaller non-legislative report in 2008, the main (visible) parliamentary achievement of Jerzy Buzek is his work for the 7th Framework Programme for which he became appointed as rapporteur on 31 March 2005, with the legislative act being finalised on 18 December 2006.

The importance and scope of this legislative procedure was most likely a good way to get known among his peers in the European Parliament, probably a basis for his candidature as next EP president.

The rest of his activities look rather average, but these are just superficial statistics. Whether he is capable and accepted enough to lead the European Parliament will have to be answered by his colleagues.

However, since 90% of the EU citizens will probably not know Jerzy Buzek, we will have to do much more research on him before his possible election in 9 days - by now it is hard to judge whether he would be a good president of the European Parliament or not.

Read also the follow-up:

"Why Jerzy Buzek is the wrong choice for the European Parliament presidency"


Ralf Grahn said...


Your attempt to highlight important decisions affecting European integration and Europeans is commendable.

At the same time they point to the lack of relevant information about candidates for important offices and the difficulties for EU citizens to make informed choices for or against (especially since the number of candidates per post generally seems to be one, just as in North Korea).

If there are people with more knowledge, I would look forward to their comments on Buzek (and other candidates for top offices).

With regard to the President of the European Parliament (speaker), there are some qualities I would want to know more about.

The EP President should know something about committee work and plenary sessions, of course, but more than a technician he or she is supposed to lead the internal work of the European Parliament.

What can we expect with regard to the Bureau (group chairmen) and the committee chairs (Conference of Presidents) and the EP administration? Internal reforms, impartiality, more openness concerning internal work and MEPs' expenses?

What can we expect from the candidate with regard to external representation of the EP?

Thoughts about the future of EU and the EP as an institution?

These simple questions show how little the institutions and the European level parties find it necessary to interact with EU citizens, or even to inform us.

Is it too much to ask them to open their calendars for the 21st century?

Julien Frisch said...

Ralf, you definitely ask the right questions. I am hoping that more insiders will say something about Buzek, or that Buzek will say something about himself.

Until then, we'll have to continue with the piecemeal approach of collecting bits of information to get a picture of the European politicians deciding about the work of the Union's institutions.

Brad Zimmerman said...

I live in Poland and have heard a lot about Buzek... but nothing much of substance. The link is a gold-mine - thank you!

I look forward to reading more in-depth analysis on Buzek ...and all things related to EU politics.

Unknown said...

Hi! I am Polish citizen. Buzek was considered as weak and steered Prime Minister but he launched 4 important reforms of territorial division, education, health and finance. The program could be considered as right wing. He left the office with marginal support but reforms are lasting and I like them.

Julien Frisch said...

Dziękuję, Lukasz, for your personal comment. It's good to get some more details on Jerzy Buzek.

website of EP President said...

I think he will be a good President, do yo agree? Well, good or bad, you can communicate with Jerzy Buzek on his Facebook page. Not only is he the first EP President from Central and Eastern Europe, he is the first EP President to use Facebook to directly appeal to all. Tell him your views!!: