I suppose drafting polemics takes time, or perhaps there is another reason for his deficiency. For Daniel Hannan MEP, European poster boy for the Tory right, seems increasingly to be neglecting the very work he is supposed to be doing – representing his constituents from South East England in the European Parliament, and playing his role as a legislator in the EU’s parliament.
First there are the records of meetings between lobbyists and Conservative members of the European Parliament, published for the period 1 January until 30 June 2010 [PDF here]. Hannan is one of only 2 MEPs (together with Robert Atkins) who states zero meetings with lobbyists. The definition of lobbyist is very wide – basically encompassing anyone who would seek to influence a MEP, or has any concerns about legislation. Hannan commented to Public Affairs News that he believes in direct democracy and does not believe he should speak to anyone. I would counter that when it comes to technicalities of legislation it’s beyond the abilities of any MEP, even one as smug about his mental abilities as Hannan, to understand all the technicalities of what is to be voted about.
Secondly there is Hannan’s committee work. As the official page about him on the EP website shows, he’s a member of one committee (Constitutional Affairs) and one delegation (ACP), and he’s not listed as a substitute on any committee. This gives him the lightest possible amount of legislative work to deal with.
So does he turn up to vote in plenary of the EP when it’s important? Not when it comes to the vital amendments proposed by the European Parliament to the financial framework for the EU, as detailed in this blogpost from Open Europe. Here too Atkins was also absent. Hannan also has the third worst attendance record of all the Tory MEPs, behind only Sajjad Karim (a defector from the Lib Dems in the last EP term) and David Campbell Bannerman (a recent defector from UKIP).
So the next time you hear Hannan whining about the ineffectiveness of the EU, ask whether he has been setting an adequate example to his peers.
[UPDATE – 10.6.11, 1900]
Just received this tweet from Martin Ehrenhauser MEP:
@jonworth He also finished his position as chair of the interparliamentarien group SOS Democracy last year. No one knows exactly why.
— Martin Ehrenhauser (@mehrenhauser) June 10, 2011
May 30, 2009 via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution
Just received this reply, MUCH HAPPIER WITH THIS RESPONSE!
Thank you for contacting Catherine. I hope you don’t mind me responding on her behalf. You will be pleased to hear that Catherine has signed the written declaration on dog population management in the European Union. Kind regards, Mark Wheeler.
Office of Catherine Bearder MEP
I asked him to sign Declaration 26 to improve the ways dogs are managed in europe and got this reply!:-
Thank you for your email. It is always a pleasure to get feedback and I appreciate you taking the time to write. I decided some years ago not to sign any written declarations. They have no legislative force or political purpose: they are simply a way for MEPs to advertise what well-intentioned people they are. Declamatory actions of this kind are the curse of contemporary politics: they allow politicians to pretend to powers that they don’t and shouldn’t have. Although there are all sorts of worthy causes, I have to be consistent and decline to sign any of them.
Yours sincerely, Daniel Hannan MEP
All I can say is shame on HIM
Everything you need to know about the illegal bailouts and decline of democracy in Europe.
“A “parliament” with no powers of legislation,” That is factually wrong. While it has no right of legislative initiative it has substantial and very real power over legislation. Furthermore does it have the possibility of suggesting legislative proposals to the Commission which usually follows such proposals. That means in practice there is not a big difference to parliaments with initiative right but where little can be successfully implemented against the will of government.
If the EU parliament is not elected according to democratic principles, the US senate isn’t either.
The EU commission is elected by the EP on suggestion of the Council. In short, while the national governments can nominate candidates, they have to be “elected” by the Parliament. This means of course that the candidates can be voted down, forcing the governments to find other candidates instead of controversial faces. As importantly, the EP can fire the Commission by simple majority anytime. To claim therefore the Commission is outside of any democratic control is not justified.
It is furthermore not quite right to say the EP has no “opposition”. Small parties like the Greens are very opposition like. They vote in favour of many drafts nonetheless but the definition of opposition is not that you have to be against everything only because other parties are for it. The EP unlike for example some national parliaments is a working parliament rather than a rubber stamping show. This is due to the fact that it is not largely controlled by a government like so many national parliaments are de facto.
@Johnny – that’s not true. The Member States (i.e. the Council) have right of initiative on foreign policy matters, and both EP and Council are very adept at adding sunset clauses to legislation to make sure new legislation is initiated. Secondly, how many parliaments in EU countries actually make much law through private members’ bills and the like, if the Government of the day doesn’t endorse them?
Frankly as a MEP you have much, much more legislative clout than as a backbench MP in Westminster. Problem is that people like you fail to see this.
As for rule of law on bailouts – I agree its questionable, and yet I don’t know enough about this matter to comment on the legality (or not).
While it might be hard to comprehend, I am not “it’s done by the EU therefore it must be good”, although I do think that, on balance, we’re better off that the EU exists than if it did not exist. But take my previous post on clearing up the EP for example – if I judge the EU institutions are doing the wrong things then I’ll say so.
I apologise for the badly copied text from Open Europe which mentions the most recent case of massive fraud by MEPs. The “parliament” have refused to come clean but details are available from The Sunday Times or Open Europe.
Thank you for your answer Jon. According to your link neither the Parliament nor the Council have the power of legislative initiative so I fail to see why my comment was « rubbish ».
According to the 2009 verdict of the German Constitutional Court : the EU parliament does NOT represent the peopleS of Europe and does not follow the basic rules of DEMOCRACY.
Only national parliaments do that. Here’s why : In Luxembourg,38,000 votes are needed to elect an MEP. 628,000 German votes are neede d to elect a German MEP for the EU « parliament ». What’s « democratic » about that ?
Alsi according to your link,the Parliament can call other institutions to answer questions and if necessary to take them to court if they break EU law or treaties…….no doubt they will soon be calling on the Kommission to answer questions on their illegal baillout plans which are in breach of European law.
Or maybe not :
I n r e s p o n s e t o l a s t w e e k ‘ s r u l i n g b y t h e E u r o p e a n C o u r t o f J u s t i c e , t h e S u n d a y T i m e s h a s p u b l i s h e d t h e i n t e r n a l e x p e n s e s r e p o r t t h a t t h e E u r o p e a n P a r l i a m e n t h a s r e f u s e d t o m a k e p u b l i c . A b u s e s i n c l u d e M E P s c l a i m i n g u p t o £ 1 8 0 , 0 0 0 i n a n n u a l s t a f f a l l o w a n c e s w i t h o u t r e c e i p t s , M E P s a w a r d i n g t h e m s e l v e s b o n u s e s o f u p t o one and a half t i m e s t h e i r s a l a r i e s a n d d i v e r t i n g p u b l i c m o n e y i n t o f r o n t c o m p a n i e s .
I look forward to your next blog, how about one on the rule of law or EU corruption ?
“even one as smug about his mental abilities as Hannan,”
“European, social democrat, federalist, feminist, atheist, anti-monarchist. Inline skater. Train traveller, cyclist. Blogger, website designer, avid Mac user, trainer. ENTJ.”
@Tim – I agree with @European Citizen on this. People who use taxpayers money to just give themselves a platform and not actually do the work they are elected to do is not acceptable. Same as UKIP in the EP – they are not constructive in their criticism. Hannan should actually try to make his ideology work – make legislation more free market etc.
@Johnny – rubbish. Educate yourself about the EP’s powers – this might help.
@Bill Bog – perhaps I did not make this clear, but basically anyone who speaks to a MEP is classed as lobbyist. So a lawyer, an academic researcher, someone from a charity or a university in the South East of England. The definition is very wide.
While I cannot vouch for the people that Hannan employs, I can however speak for my own experience working for a MEP a few years ago. We were 2 in the Brussels office, and 2 in the UK office, and there’s no way we could be experts on all the legislation we had to deal with without calling on external advice.
A lobbyist is someone who attempts to influence an MEP and is a wholly undesirable trend usually tied in with an attempt to corrupt them. Anyone who has concerns about legislation should write to their MP.
To claim that an MP should understand the technicalities of legislation through a lobbyist pursuing their own agenda is extraordinary when MPs have paid assistants to do this work for them.
Oh dear,not working hard enough in the EU “parliament” !
A “parliament” with no powers of legislation, whose members are not elected according to democratic rules, has no opposition and no citizens of it’s own to represent other than those created by the Lisbon treaty aka European constitution ! A “parliament” whose members vote themselves increases in salary,pensions and expenses while telling us serfs to cut national spending.
The “parliament” is there to give a veneer of democracy to an institution headed by 27 un-elected Kommissars with immunity from criminal prosecution and no regard for the rule of law (see illegal bailouts).
Mr Hannon loves European diversity, unlike Brussels.
Stay a naughty boy Daniel.
And when he is there, he seems to spend most of his time campaigning for Turkey to be offered membership of the EU, and the rest of the time campaigning for Britain to get out of it. Strange indeed.
If he hates EU regulation and won’t bother spending time discussing it why did he run as a candidate for the EP? There are many people who are not happy about their jobs but this does not absolve them from the responsibility to do them well as they are getting paid for it.
Man who hates EU regulation accused of not spending enough time debating the EU regulation he doesn’t believe should exist in the first place.
Not entirely sure that I would describe that as a hit really.
so will he be paying the UK taxpayers he has swindled in his failure to do his job? He was paid £56,358 last year for doing bugger all. UK members who committed fraud at that level were sent to prison.
I’ve been posting this for years on his Telegraph blog. Not that he replies, too busy doing something or other. If he had any balls, he would have joined UKIP, but of course, he wouldn’t get the profile nor the Telegraph job. A charlatan, pure and simple.
Nice little hit job.