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Finnish MEPs Lobby for Influence in Many Corridors

The EU elections is a poll that has many Finns asking the question, "Can our Euro-parliamentarians make a difference in Brussels?" Experts say the answer depends on whether the newly-minted MEPs will be able to gain the trust of fellow parliamentarians in their group and if they manage to join influential parliamentary committees.

Edustajia Euroopan parlamentissä
Image: Christophe Karaba / EPA

Aaretti Siitonen, a researcher at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, says Finnish MEPs’ influence in the 732-member EU Parliament over the next five years largely rests on which committee seats the Finnish Euro Parliamentarians are able to secure.

“If the committee is a very technical one, then in that specific field of law-making the single MEP can have a vast influence,” says Siitonen. “When MEPs are able to forge alliances and build coherent arguments, they can affect laws and amendments that take effect all over the European Union. MEPs carry quite a large amount of personal responsibility and personal influence."

National Interests Take a Backseat

A common misconception is that Finnish MEPs' job is to push Finland's interests in the EU. The MEPs, however, do not sit in national delegations. They work in groups based on their political alliances, and an important part of their tasks is to pass laws that affect all 27 EU member states.

The outgoing Parliament is made up of seven main groups. The Socialists and the centre-right European People's Party are largest political groupings in the elected body.

Eva-Riitta Siitonen, a member of the European Parliament, underscores the importance of parliamentarians first and foremost lobbying within their own groups.

"If you can convince your group, then it's easier in the session room to get good results," says Eva-Riitta Siitonen.

The new European Parliament, which will take office on July 14th, is the only EU institution that is directly elected by the people.

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