Monday, June 17, 2013

Organizational Assessment: European Parliament

My internship is at the European Parliament, which covers a variety of policy areas. However, my MEP is a member of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, so much of the work that my member and her assistants have been working on, focus on the issues related to this committee.

There are many organizational constraints and organizational procedures that apply when working within the European Parliament and addressing issues such as the internal market. First, there are legal restrictions. As a member of the European Parliament, my member and her office must follow legislative procedures in order to accomplish something. There are also bureaucratic structures that create constraints on what Mrs. Roithova and the European Parliament would like to accomplish. Specifically, Mrs. Roithova has been the rapporteur for updating eight product safety directives to bring them in line with the Lisbon Treaty. As a result, she has been working with the European Commission and European Council to negotiate a legislative package that would be accepted by all three bodies. This process has taken over 18 months and has been difficult at times, particularly in getting all three bodies to agree on delegating and implementing acts. In order for a directive, or in this case a set of directives, the Parliament, Council, and Commission, all have to agree. From what I’ve witnessed within the technical meetings and trialogue concerning these eight product safety directives, this is not an easy task.

Not only are there certain legal restrictions in place but political/party structures can also create organizational constraints. My member of parliament is part of the EPP Group, a political party within the European Parliament. The EPP Group has working group meetings to discuss what reports/directives/legislation they will support as well as what they will not support. The EPP Group plays a role in what Mrs. Roithova can do and support as a member of the EPP Group and as a member of the European Parliament, especially in terms of policies concerning the internal market and consumer protection. Mrs. Roithova and her office are also constrained by the state in which she represents. As a MEP from the Czech Republic, Mrs. Roithova is a represented of her country and is accountable to the people there through elections; yet, she is expected to promote the ideals of the European Union. This can be a tough balance and can create constraints on how far she might support certain reports and initiatives concerning the internal market and consumer protection that are good for the European Union as a whole, but may have negative consequences for her own country.

The European Parliament’s organizational culture is best understood within the context of what the Parliament is a part of as well as the people in which it represents. As a result, the European Parliament is an organization focused on creating and meeting the ideals set out in all previous treaties, now including the Lisbon Treaty. This means focusing on creating one market within Europe. However, the Parliament also represents the cultural diversity of the European Community and, as a result, the Parliament must address those differences in order to be successful. The most obvious example of these differences is language, which has been addressed. For example, in committee meetings, where there are 23 translators sitting in booths around the room, translating what is being said. This is perhaps the easiest issue to address concerning organizational culture. Other problems that may arise is lack of unity and disagreement on what should be done or supported within the European Parliament, or the process in which to accomplish something.


  1. I was wondering how either you or Rachel, as interns in the European Parliament, would answer the question. It sounds like it has been pretty interesting and that you've been able to examine a wide range of issues.

    I think it's interesting to think about party restrictions as well - that's something I didn't really consider when we were all doing our interviews. I'm sure its been great to learn about how the MEP manages her obligations to the party and also just to learn more about what the party stands for and how it functions in parliament.

    Also, it seems that the tension between state responsibilities and the EU values has come up for you as well. While not entirely unanticipated, I didn't expect it to be so embedded in almost every policy or issue I've seen debated here.

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  2. A good post, Emily! I like the way that you've brought out the different dimensions of authority and accountability that an MEP has to negotiate in representing her state, her party, and the specific issues and interests of the EU. Has there been much talk in your office of the new TTIP talks that were finally officially announced earlier this week? It would seem to be a set of negotiations that will ultimately have great relevance to the Internal Market as well as Consumer Protection.