MEP Influence Index 2023: Top MEPs shaping EU’s trade policy

MEP Influence Index 2023: Top MEPs shaping EU’s trade policy

This analysis measures the influence that Members of the European Parliament are exerting over EU legislation and documents that shape trade policy. It is part of a series of reports that includes:

MEP Influence Index overall (across all policy areas)

MEP Influence Index in Environmental policy

MEP Influence Index in Agri-food policy

MEP Influence Index in Digital policy

MEP Influence Index in Social policy

MEP Influence Index in Health policy

This research measures MEPs’ influence through a combination of criteria clustered in the following categories: formal and informal leadership positions, actual legislative work, political network, committee membership and voting behaviour. To read the full methodology, click here.

NB: we will soon publish an assessment of the Commissioners’ performance and their chances of being re-elected. If you wish to contribute to this assessment, feel free to take our quick survey.

Key findings

-The top 5 most influential MEPs shaping trade policy are: Bernd Lange, Inma Rodríguez-Piñero, Christophe Hansen, Reinhard Bütikofer and Heidi Hautala.

-Two Germans from governing parties are among the most influential MEPs on trade, which is a confirmation of the strong German interest in this topic. The delegations that tend to punch the most above their weight when it comes to proportional influence are the Luxembourgers and the Estonians, who are particularly active on drafting legislation on trade.

-While struggling on trade topics in the past, the influence of the S&D group on trade has increased during the current parliamentary term (as also shown by the top 2 positions being occupied by S&D MEPs).

More details on the above findings can be found below.

Important: when tracking influence over EU policies, always bear in mind that while individual MEPs are the visible signatories of initiatives or amendments, they are not operating in an information vacuum. Rather, their views and actions are shaped by bigger political and societal forces / pressures that surround them and that they are networking with. 

To understand the full picture, you need to look at the strength of these forces and the direction in which they are pushing and pulling. For example, the chart below shows the level of influence of all MEPs on regulation on the trade sector, but also the direction in which each of them is working to influence this policy area, e.g. whether they promote a more protectionist or a more liberalised regulatory framework. Particular attention should be paid to the MEPs who are in the middle, i.e. they have both a fair level of influence and moderate views, because in the current fragmented political landscape, these MEPs (swing voters) are the ones that make the difference, i.e. their votes are the ones that decide whether a key paragraph is approved or not. 

Note: in the chart below, only the names of top MEPs are revealed. To uncover the full picture, contact us at [email protected].

Top MEPs on trade

NB: We expect a significant turnover in the composition of the European Parliament after the 2024 elections. According to our latest calculations, only 42% of the current cohort of MEPs will be re-elected next year, although the chances of the top MEPs to make it are higher (but only slightly). Contact us at [email protected] to get timely predictions and updates on the future composition of the European parliament, including the likely new MEPs and their backgrounds.

Trends by national groups

When looking at the trends by national groups, Luxembourgers and Estonians stand out for the high level of influence (proportionally to their size) on trade topics. 

When it comes to the largest delegations, the Germans are highly influential on trade, as seen by the strong representation of German MEPs in the top of the ranking. Germans influence this critical policy area (especially for their exports-oriented economy) through their leadership positions and high level of legislative activities. Despite the strong level of activity of some individual MEPs (such as Vedrenne and Maurel), French MEPs punch significantly below their weight on this strategic policy area.

Trends by political groups

The differences in the performance of different political groups on this policy area are not particularly significant, showing a certain balance in the power dynamics on this topic, with the bigger groups playing a key role due to their larger size. 

Yet, it is interesting to observe that S&D MEPs tend to punch above their weight on trade, while the group was struggling to leave its footprints on this topic during previous terms. Closer relations with the French-led Renew group seem to be helping the S&D group to increase its influence on trade, to the detriment of the EPP. This re-shaped balance of power is likely to be challenged by the next EP elections and especially the negative electoral outlook for the centre-to-the-left camp.

Would you like to find out who are the MEPs with moderate views that are most likely to make or break majorities in the current European Parliament or after the next elections? Feel free to contact us at [email protected] for more information on our data-driven services.

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