Tapio Raunio, "Losing Independence or Finally Gaining
Recognition? Contacts Between MEPs and National Parties,"
Party Politics, 6 (April 2000), 211-223.
Despite the gradual emergence of Europarties, national
parties remain the main intermediaries between public
opinion and policy-making in the European Union (EU).
National parties influence EU decision-making primarily
through national legislature and government and through
their Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). These
avenues are related as MEPs can act as useful linkages
between the European and the national levels, providing the
domestic party machinery with information on developments in
Figures and Tables:
Table 1: Reply percentages by member states and party
Table 2: MEP membership in leading party organs
Table 3: Voting instructions to MEPs
Table 4: The influence of MEPs in party policy formulation
on EU matters (%)
Appendix: A methodological note on the survey.
What are the political implications of the findings?
Intra-party policy coordination between the national and
European levels is a problematic issue for the Europarties.
Independence from national parties benefits the
institutionalization and cohesiveness of EP party groups. By
limiting MEPs' freedom of manoeuvre, control by national
parties can impede group cohesion and majority building in
the European Parliament. Therefore party groups have reason
to view with anxiety developments indicating tighter
scrutiny by national parties. Were the Parliament to be
granted more powers, such control would undoubtedly
A valid counter-argument is that close interaction increases
the representativeness of the EP. Numerous studies have
shown MEPs to be more pro- integrationist than party
activists and citizens in member states. Tighter scrutiny
could ensure that MEPs' positions are in line with the views
of their parties. More importantly, the active involvement
of MEPs in normal party work will gradually make party
activists, particularly the party elites, better informed
over Europe. How can parties benefit more from their MEPs?
Since party executive organs normally have control over
party statutes, they can implement organizational changes
that increase MEPs' accountability to the domestic party
leadership. The procedure for candidate selection ensures
that most MEPs will remain loyal to their national