Intergroups Bring MEPs Together
Although my colleagues in the European Parliament generally divide along the Left/Right spectrum as they do in the UK Parliament, we often come together in groups on issues of mutual interest which are not ideologically divisive – such as animal welfare. These groups are called Intergroups
Intergroups have no legislative power, but are formed to promote exchange of views – on subjects as diverse as children’s rights or the digital agenda- and are often used as a single point of contact by lobbyist.
The European Parliament’s main political factions have agreed on the Intergroups that they will establish for the current mandate (2014-2019).
The list of 28 groups is due to be validated by the Conference of the Presidents of the European Parliament’s political factions. This is an increase on the 27 groups of the previous mandate.
Intergroups have a unifying effect on the European Parliament: they can only be created by members from at least three different political factions, and are open to all the political persuasions of the hemicycle.
It is not uncommon to find the radical Left sitting alongside the Liberals in the classic Animal Welfare Intergroup and almost all the parties are represented in the Intergroup for the Protection of Gay and Lesbian Rights. Even with no official status in the European Parliament, Intergroups tend to be targeted by pressure groups, which see them as an easy way to gain influence in the Parliament.
They allow lobby groups to carry out consultations very easily, and to create links with the MEPs.
But not all Intergroups succeed: there were over 70 proposals for the current legislature and not all of them were accepted.
The creation of an intergroup is not as simple as it may appear at first. On top of the required three MEPs, the subject of the intergroup must be of interest to the main political groups in order to guarantee their support throughout the formation process.
The political priorities of the parties mean that newly proposed Intergroups often fall by the wayside, while those from the previous mandate have a greater chance of being reformed.
The current major themes of European politics are reflected in the newly formed Intergroups.
French MEP Dominique Riquet was successful in establishing an intergroup on long-term investment, and among the other new arrivals are intergroups on Children’s Rights, Creative Industries, Digital Agenda, Freedom of Religion and Belief and Religious Tolerance, Integrity – Transparency, Anti-Corruption and Organised Crime, and Sport and Trade Unions.
The question of copyright is currently making waves in the media other creative industries, which could be confronted with big changes when the Juncker Commission carries out its plan to review European copyright law.
The intergroup on the Freedom of Religion plans to address the persecution of Christians in Iraq and Syria.
Many well-established Intergroups will be retained for the 2014-2019 legislature, including those dealing with public services, wine and tourism.
But some of the Intergroups from the previous parliament will cease to exist, including those concentrating on energy and Tibet – a group that did not overly please China.
The proposed Intergroups for 2014 to 2019 are as follows:
- Ageing and intergenerational solidarity
- Anti-racism & Diversity
- Sustainable Hunting, Biodiversity, Countryside Activities and Forests
- Children’s Rights
- Climate change, biodiversity and sustainable development
- Public Goods and Services
- Creative Industries
- Digital Agenda
- Extreme poverty and human rights
- Development of European Tourism, Cultural Heritage, Ways of Saint James and other European Cultural Routes
- Freedom of Religion, Belief and Religious Tolerance
- Integrity – Transparency, Anti-corruption and Organised Crime
- Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Rights – LGBT
- Long-term investment and reindustrialisation
- Rural, Mountainous and Sparsely-Populated Regions
- Seas, Rivers, Islands and Coastlines
- SME “small and medium-sized enterprise”
- Sky and Space
- Social Economy
- Trade Unions
- Traditional National Minorities, Constitutional Regions and Regional Languages
- Urban Issues
- Welfare and Protection of Animals
- Western Sahara
- Wine, Spirits and Food Quality
- Youth Issues