The Lisbon Treaty has again enhanced the role and powers of the European Parliament [EP] and therefore increased the workload of individual MEPs. However many citizens remain unaware of what MEPs do and how they represent them. This paper reviews the academic literature and argues that we need to know more about how individual MEPs practise European politics inside this institution. Throughout, it argues that ethnography can play a key role in opening up this institutional black-box and enhancing our understanding of this profession by focusing on daily activities and backstage processes. It begins by exploring the working environment of MEPs, which is characterised by shortage of time, constant travelling, information overload, and highly technical issues. Secondly, it describes strategies MEPs employ to pursue their aims here, namely: specialisation, filtering, employing assistants, and information management. Thirdly, it draws comparisons with other professional fields to remind us the EP is a normal professional work environment. The contributions are twofold: the article provides a deeper, more nuanced, and more holistic understanding of (individual) MEP behaviour; and also helps to demystify the profession and thus help alleviate the democratic deficit by beginning to close the gap between politicians and citizens.
European Parliament, MEP behaviour, ethnography, anthropology of Europe
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.Material published in the JCER is done so under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 licence, with copyright remaining with the author.
- Articles published online in the JCER cannot be published in another journal without explicit approval of the JCER editor.
- Authors can 'self-archive' their articles in digital form on their personal homepages, funder repositories or their institutions' archives provided that they link back to the original source on the JCER website. Authors can archive pre-print, post-print or the publisher's version of their work.
- Authors agree that submitted articles to the JCER will be submitted to various abstracting, indexing and archiving services as selected by the JCER.