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Monday 22.01.2018 | Name days: Austris

Contribution of Latvian MEPs - rather modest

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUStatistical information regarding MEPs is often manipulated and widely misinterpreted. It may seem that some of Latvia’s representatives have an average of 30 speeches during a single session. However, it is not entirely true.

De facto programme of LTV and invited experts managed to clarify a number of things. Specifically, isolate indexes that can be easily manipulated and present an imitation of work from indexes that demonstrate MEPs’ reputation among colleagues, their knowledge and competence in important fields of the European Parliament.

The most important criterion is the compilation of reports. This means that some European parliamentarian has taken part in the creation of some European law or resolution. This means MEPs have to gain support from their fellow deputies and coordinate reports with other EU institutions. Only half of Latvia’s representatives in the EP have managed to achieve this. Inese Vaidere has the largest number of reports among Latvian MEPs, followed by Tatyana Zhdanok and Krišjānis Kariņš.

The highest responsibility an MEP can hold is being responsible for some European parliament Law. This requires a lot of work, demands competence and experience, says the head of European Parliament Information Office in Latvia Marta Ribele.

Another important criterion in the evaluation of work of MEPs is the formation of opinions. MEPs are required to report to responsible committees or groups about decisions of the European Parliament. Similar to the writing of reports, this kind of work is only entrusted to the most competent deputies.

There are other indexes. MEPs can manipulate them as much as they want. Certain types of statistical information can be intentionally misinterpreted to show an imitation of hard work. The information that can be manipulated the easiest is statistical information about plenary meetings. It does sound rather significant – knowing that some Latvian MEP often takes part in plenary meeting to defend Latvia’s interests.

Aleksandr Mirsky is an absolute leader in this regard – he has stood before the EP more than a thousand times. This means at least 30 speeches per each session! Krišjānis Kariņš seems to be good at this as well.

However, statistical data of the European Parliament does not separate information regarding a deputy’s actual speeches from the EP tribune and written explanation of votes. Even though performing speeches is an obligation for MEPs, this index is easily manipulated – write a short explanation for a vote, and it seems as though the deputy defended the interests of his voters in person.

Aleksandr Mirsky often comments his votes regardless of their importance and regardless of whether or not matters are in his competence. Krišjānis Kariņš often does the same thing – simply states in writing that he voted on some matter and adds a simple explanation.

Many Latvian MEPs have achievements in forwarding matters to the European Commission. This is a very important area, because it shows a deputy’s interest for work in the EU. Some matters are forwarded following a lobby from NGOs. However, it is hard to assess the importance of some forwarded matters.

Former MEP Aldis Kušķis: ‘It is relatively easy to ask a question. It is far more complicated to ask a question that actually matters. You have to be able to justify your question and gain progress from the answer.’

For example, among multiple questions asked by Alfreds Rubiks, there is a request to evaluate the inability of Latvian non-citizens to participate in municipal elections, even though this matter is outside of the commission’s competence.

Submission of amendments to decisions of the European Parliament is actual legislation, so many MEPs used it for any ideas that come to mind. Voters are unable to learn whether or not a deputy’s amendments are even approved and noticed.

Aldis Kušķis says ‘the most important matter is not the total number of submitted queries, but whether or not they have been approved by work groups, committees and plenary meetings. Statistics do not show this. This further proves that this kind of business is not arithmetic – it is more trigonometry.’

There is one conflicting criterion MEPs and experts have different opinions on. It is general participation in plenary meetings. Tatyana Zhdanok is a leader in this regard. Ivars Godmanis is the least often attendee. The politician explains that support for different decisions is often allocated prior to votes. Participation in plenary meetings changes nothing.

Politologist Iveta Kažoka notes: ‘This demonstrates a person’s attitude towards work. It is as though the majority of matters are not resolved with a vote of a single MEP. Participation in plenary meetings is a responsibility of MEPs.’

No matter what Latvian MEP may say about their achievements, their overall activity and contribution in the context of the whole of European Parliament remains rather modest. VoteWatch NGO has compiled a comparison of results of MEPs of different countries. Latvia is far below other member states in terms of law writing. The same applies to Lithuania and Estonia.

VoteWatch Director Doru Frantescu explains: ‘It is hard for MEPs of small countries to gain influence and prestigious posts, because each candidate has to have a support group behind him. This means MEPs of small countries should cooperate with each other and provide support for each other. There does not seem to be any cooperation among Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian MEPs. Baltic States are inexperienced and do not know how things are done. If we look at the small but experienced Luxembourg, we see that its representatives have many high-rank posts and responsibilities’.


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  1. mike walsh says:

    I am sorry but even the German, French, British Spanish etc. contributions to EU debate have little effect on EU policy making. I believe 70 per-cent of EU decisions – the vital ones on main issues such as economy, foreign affairs and suchlike, are made by the unelected president and his 27 unelected commissioners.

    I doubt the Latvian contribution has any more effect than does mine. To think otherwise is grandstanding self-delusion. Such people are like the rooster who thinks its dawn crown commands the sun to rise.

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