How does the composition of the European Parliament shape its role in EU decision-making?

Rory Costello (University of Limerick)

At the EU level, policy outputs reflect compromises between a wide range of actors. Amongst these actors, the European Parliament takes up a special position since it is the only directly elected EU institution. To further shed light on the EP’s role in this complex policy-making process, in his recently published article, Rory Costello examines how the EP’s ideological positioning feeds into legislative negotiations. Covering the period between 1999 and 2019, Rory finds that the policy positions adopted by the EP more closely reflect the ideological profile of the major party groups (the EPP, S&D and ALDE) than the median MEP. In addition, the EP tends to adopt a pro-integration position in line with its ideological composition, but there is no evidence of a systematic policy bias towards integration relative to the member states. Overall, the findings indicate that MEPs adhere to the policy programs on which they were elected and do not prioritize increasing the influence of the EP through deeper integration. The EP, thus, seems to be more responsive to the voters than some critics might suspect.