Analysis: since Qatar-gate MEPs’ disclosure of meetings with stakeholders booms

Analysis: since Qatar-gate MEPs’ disclosure of meetings with stakeholders booms

Since the Qatargate, the level of scrutiny on MEPs’ meetings with stakeholders has increased dramatically, leading to a reform of the transparency rules in the European Parliament. MEPs will be obliged to disclose their meetings with third parties if they feature discussions on parliamentary files. 

We are already noticing an increase in transparency: the number of meetings disclosed by MEPs has increased massively (from 30.000 declared at the end of November 2022 to about 40.000 meetings now). 68% of MEPs are now declaring their meetings, with an average of 84 meetings per MEP.

What are the main implications of this reform for stakeholders and MEPs?

1) Your reputation matters if you want people to meet with you

Assuming that virtually all meetings will soon be available to the public (save for potential loopholes, which are becoming increasingly risky to take), one should be prepared to explain these meetings to protect one’s reputation. Both stakeholders or MEPs might face requests to justify their decisions to engage with certain individuals or organizations. 

But who defines who is controversial to meet or not? This depends on the person’s reputation in the public debate and their capacity to effectively express their interests as legitimate positions. Being seen as a reputed party is a key asset, yet a very volatile one. We expect reputational work to become more important in the coming months, with bigger budget lines dedicated to it.

2) You have more access to information on what the other stakeholders are doing 

You will be able to know who anyone else is meeting with (whether they are politicians or stakeholders). This data might suggest new paths to reach out to key decision-makers or how to build alliances. 

Since the start of the year, subscribers can benefit from our user-friendly database of all declared meetings by MEPs. By clicking on an MEP profile you can visualise all disclosed meetings between this person and stakeholder groups. You will be able to search by topic, name of organization, file and committee.

NB: You will need a premium subscription to access this type of information. If you are not a subscriber yet, feel free to contact us at [email protected]

The biggest increase in the number of published meetings after Quatar-gate is noticeable among Southern European delegations (especially Cypriots, Spanish and Portuguese), although these delegations remain less forthcoming in disclosing their meetings compared to their Northern counterparts. 

Some changes are also notable among CEE members, especially Latvians, Polish and Romanians. However, these countries are still lagging behind, as only about half of their MEPs reported some of their meetings. Currently, Greek MEPs are by far at the bottom of the ranking. 

We have also updated our ranking of the MEPs who disclosed the most meetings. Interestingly, some high-profile MEPs entered the top 20 for the first time, as they caught up on disclosing their meetings over the last few months. This is for instance the case of S&D leader Iratxe Garcia Perez (who is now in second place overall) and ENVI Chair Pascal Canfin.

Finally, it is important to remember that, regardless of who the MEPs are meeting with, the decisions they actually make when voting or negotiating pieces of legislation are what matters the most. On our analytical platform, you are able to track the voting and legislative behaviour of MEPs, national parties and political groups, as well as that of Governments’ representatives in the Council. For more information, feel free to contact us at [email protected].

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