Some praise it on transparency grounds while others say it misrepresents them.
The website VoteWatch.eu was launched this week, casting light on the activities of the European Parliament’s members, who are in full campaign for the elections in June.
It gives their public attendance records over five years, and says how they voted — whether with their political group in the assembly or their national parties.
According to figures compiled by researchers with the London School of Economics and the Free University of Brussels, by nationality, the Austrians have the best attendance records, while the Italians are the most absent.
Another site, Parlorama.eu, presenting similar observations, was forced to close, due to pressure from certain parliament members, but it hopes to reopen very soon.
Its editor, Flavien Deltort, said: “The worst really are the worst, with very little or no presence in plenary (three-and-a-half days per month) no written questions, no reports, no opinions given.”
Yet, in the eyes of Pascal Delwit, at the Free University of Brussels,, an MEP does not always contribute only by being present: “A European Parliament member’s political clout can sometimes be more important than the size of his initiative. Take a report furnished for the European Council, the ministers or the Commission… a member’s weight in a decision can have worked more effectively for the Parliament than a highly appreciable number of appearances in parliamentary committees.”
The EU Ombudsman has praised transparency as boosting trust, and said that lack of it is by far the most common complaint he gets from citizens.