The European parliament and its acolytes – assistants, journalists, and so on – are back in Strasbourg this week for the much-derided monthly plenary session. A couple of interesting votes, including one on the very subject of Strasbourg, are worth keeping an eye on.
One interesting feature of the European Parliament that my colleague Joshua Chaffin covered last year is that its members are now far more likely to vote along party lines than along national ones.
This is perhaps a bit surprising when you consider that a British MEP representing the centre-left Labour party is likely to be far closer on the political spectrum to a British centre-right Conservative than to a Socialist from almost any continental country. In many policy areas, the gaps in political thought between countries is often wider than between parties within each country.
But, to the delight of Europhiles, a study by VoteWatch, an independent group, showed that MEPs now vote with their parties in nine out of ten votes – compared to five or six in past decades.
It’s a useful way for Brussels to illustrate that the European Union is more than a series of clashes, rows and bust-ups between member states – that a true European polity is discussing European issues unaffected by narrow national interests. Read more