Old boys’ network leaves new Europe’s MEPs in the cold

Author (Person)
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Series Details Vol.11, No.36, 13.10.05
Publication Date 13/10/2005
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By Martin Banks

Date: 13/10/05

MEPs from the EU's new member states have criticised an old boys' network which has retained control of the most important legislative dossiers.

Of the 80 most important legislative reports being prepared by the European Parliament, only seven are being drafted by deputies from the ten countries that joined the EU in May 2004.

Of the 162 new member state MEPs elected to the Parliament nearly 18 months ago, seven are rapporteurs on co-decision dossiers.

The senior Polish centre-right MEP, Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, said: "I am disappointed that so few MEPs from new member states have been selected to draft reports under co-decision, in other words, the most important legislative dossiers that Parliament deals with.

"There is a network of 'old' member state MEPs and the new members have not become fully part of it and there is a feeling that they are not participating in Parliament as fully as one might expect nearly 18 months after the election."

Under the current procedures, Parliamentary reports are allocated to political groups according to the number of MEPs. It is then left to each group to decide itself which of its members will draft a report.

The seven MEPs from new EU states who are rapporteurs on co-decision dossiers are: Mojca Drcar (Slovenia), on food additives; Adamos Adamou (Cyprus) on hydrocarbons; Roberts Zile (Latvia), on rail compensation; Jerzy Buzek (Poland), on the 7th research framework; Etelka Barsi (Hungary), on Galileo; Csaba Ory (Hungary), on the 'sunshine directive' and Valdis Dombrovskis (Latvia), on the budget for sections other than the European Commission.

Hungarian centre-right deputy, Livia Járóka, said: "New member state MEPs have a bigger contribution to make and definitely more should have been appointed as rapporteurs."

But Polish Socialist member, Genowefa Grabowska, said it was "perfectly understandable" that so few of her MEP colleagues from Central and Eastern European countries had been entrusted with the most important reports.

"Clearly, we have more to learn about the system. Newcomers always have to wait for the most important legislative dossiers. An MP in Poland would have to do the same," she said.

Klaus Baier, acting head of Parliament's conciliation and co-decision secretariat, said: "When you consider there are about 80 current reports under co-decision legislation, seven is not a lot but it does take some time for newly elected MEPs to get used to the system."

A European People's Party (EPP-ED) spokesman said: "A number of rapporteurs were automatically re-appointed to dossiers after the last European elections. This, of course, would have excluded deputies from new member states."

A Socialist group spokesman commented: "The allocation of dossiers can be based on various factors such as knowledge and experience in a particular speciality. However, we believe our new member state deputies are very well integrated into our structures."

Sarujz-Wolski said:"Their positions within the groups may not be as strong as established MEPs and this could be reflected in the way dossiers are being distributed.

"However, it isn't just MEPs who are affected by this imbalance: the number of senior civil servants, such as directors and directors-general, from new member states in both the Parliament and European Commission is also very modest."

Comments by MEPs from the new Member States, who felt that their group was underrepresented concerning tasks on the most important legislative dossiers at the European Parliament.

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