Amy Busby


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.


Article Keywords

European Parliament, MEP behaviour, ethnography, anthropology of Europe

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