A working group of 13 MEPs have been plotting ways of making the European Parliament less painfully boring. (EPA-EFE/JULIEN WARNAND)


Working group plotting how to make MEPs turn up to parliament


A working group of 13 MEPs have been plotting ways to fix the European Parliament’s low attendance by members and paltry public profile.

The group, chaired by the European Parliament’s President Roberta Metsola, has met 18 times since the beginning of this year.

A leaked document reveals the group’s terms of reference.

The European Parliament is plagued by organisational and structural issues making it an afterthought even within the Brussels universe, according to the paper.

Even those who sit in the body do not give it much time, it argues.

The parliament’s persistent problems include low attendance at plenary sessions, with the few MEPs who attend regular sittings often doing so only to speak.

Debates are less lively because “members often come to plenary only for their intervention,” and then “read out their speeches and leave right after without listening to the entire debate or to the reply of the other institutions,” says the document.

Many MEPs do not bother attending the plenary debates as they feel most issues have already been decided on at the committee level, the paper says.

The European Commission has a similar attitude to the European Parliament, and often sidesteps parliament with new initiatives.

Instead it announces most new measures to journalists directly, says the paper.

Journalists accordingly find covering the Parliament a waste of time, the working group concludes.

Plenary sessions suffer from overall lack of liveliness, says the paper. Even ‘Question Time’, allowing MEPs to grill members of the commission, fails to attract attention from either MEPs or the media.

Fixing these issues, the working group hopes, might help reduce parliament’s irrelevance.

In some ways the paper may underestimate the problems faced by the EP.

Though it takes a more favourable view of committee-level meetings, critics have noted recently that committees also suffer from poor attendance.

Of the 54 MEPs on the Committee on Budgetary Control (CONT), only six turned up to a session with Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi which focused mainly on issues in Israel and Ukraine.

Speaking to Brussels Signal after the meeting, Romanian MEP Cristian Terhes described the poor attendance as “absolutely appalling”.