06 June 2023
Environmental performance of European political groups: BLOOM publishes a groundbreaking rating
06 June 2023
On the eve of a vote on the Nature Restoration Law, an essential European regulation proposal to restore and safeguard terrestrial and marine ecosystems, BLOOM publishes a factual assessment and ranking of the environmental performance of the European Parliament’s political groups since 2019.
Average rating of MEP votes, presented by European political group. Their position reproduces their distribution in the hemicycle of the European Parliament. The size of the pie charts is proportional to the number of MEPs in each group, i.e.:
EPP: 177 MEPs; S&D: 143 MEPs; Renew: 101 MEPs; Greens/EFA: 72 MEPs; ECR: 66 MEPs; ID: 62 MEPs; The Left: 37 MEPs; Non-attached Members: 47 MEPs (European Parliament data, 5th of June 2023).
This ranking is published in a particular context whereby an alliance between the Right and the Far-Right, supported by the Liberals of the Renew group, sabotaged the “Nature Restoration Law” and prevented it from being amended and adopted in the Parliament’s Agriculture (23 May) and Fisheries (24 May) Committees.
BLOOM analyzed the environmental performance of all MEPs according to their votes on 11 texts relating to the climate, the ocean, and biodiversity, adopted during the 9th legislature of the European Parliament (between 2019 and 2023). We selected a total of 20 key amendments, for which voting recommendations had been issued by NGOs and for which results were available.
→ To discover the individual ranking of MEPs, go to our ranking platform
→ To see our methodology, click here.
Ecology is a Left-wing concern
Our assessment reveals a division into three distinct blocks, highly homogenous in their voting pattern, and highly polarized among themselves:
- The Ecological Left: a block of climate and nature allies named “The Earth Champions”, made up of three Left-wing political groups, rated between 16.4 and 19.2 out of 20.
- The Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D): a Centre-Left group comprising social-democratic parties.
- The Left: a Left-wing political group made up of democratic, socialist, communist, and eurosceptic political parties.
- The Greens/European Free Alliance (Greens/EFA): a group composed primarily of green and regionalist political parties.
- The Right and the Far-Right: a block of climate and nature’s enemies called “The Destroyers of the Planet”, made up of two Right-wing political groups and one Far-Right group, rated between 3.3 and 4.5 out of 20.
- The European People’s Party (EPP): a group of Christian-democratic, conservative and liberal-conservative orientation
- The European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR): a broadly eurosceptic, anti-federalist and conservative Right-wing group.
- Identity and Democracy (ID): a group composed of nationalist, Right-wing populist and eurosceptic national parties.
- The Liberal Right and the Non-attached Members: an ambiguous group with no set convictions on the climate and nature called “The Flip Flops of Ecology”, made up of two political groups, rated between 10.3 and 13.7 out of 20.
- Renew: a liberal, pro-European political group of the European Parliament, successor to the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) group, which dissolved in 2019 to form a new alliance with French President Emmanuel Macron’s “Renaissance” electoral list.
- Non-Inscrits (NI) or Non-Attached members (NA): Members of the European Parliament who do not belong to any one of the recognised political groups. At least 25 MEPs from 7 different countries are needed to form a political group in the European Parliament.
The surprises of our assessment
Last in class: the conservative Right, even more anti-ecological than the Far-Right
Because of their constant opposition to environmental protection and progress, BLOOM expected the conservative MEPs from the European People’s Party (EPP) to score very poorly. For example, in our 2019 ranking of French MEPs on ocean protection, none of the 21 French EPP members scored higher than 5/20. Their performance on the environment has further worstened. Of all the European political groups, the EPP has the worst average score, at 3.3/20. They come in last position, after the Far-Right Identity and Democracy (ID) group, which has an average of 4.5/20.
- Of the 175 EPP MEPs included in our analysis, only 9 scored above 10/20.
- At the bottom of the ranking, 70 MEPs have a score of less than 2/20!
- The EPP has only two notable exceptions when it comes to the environment: two MEPs who are very isolated within their group on these issues, Finland’s Sirpa Pietikäinen (16/20) and Belgium’s Benoît Lutgen (14.5/20).
Socialists have finally gone green!
This is the best surprise of this analysis. While the Socialist Group (Socialists and Democrats, S&D) has on several occasions in the past adopted positions incompatible with the protection of nature — for example, by defending destructive industrial fishing lobbies during our eventually successful campaign to ban deep-sea bottom trawling in European waters — the European Socialists, who had announced their ecological aggiornamento during the 2019 European elections with their program centered around the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), actually did so with an ecological performance assessed at 16.4/20. Not only is there no score below 10/20 in the S&D group, but 133 MEPs even have a score of 14/20 or higher. It is clear that their 2019 campaign promise has been kept.
The Liberal Right without any ecological backbone albeit in a crucial swing position
Unsurprisingly, the Renew group, characterized by a diversity of positions, obtained an average of 10.3/20, reflected in the wide disparity of scores, ranging from 3.1 to 18/20. Renew’s lack of ideological consistency when it comes to ecology is all the more regrettable for the future of the European continent as the group has the ability to overturn majorities in the European Parliament, giving it a very concrete life or death power over legislative texts. In other words, the Renew group decides whether it “makes or breaks” laws.
On June 15th, Renew’s position will be decisive for the “Nature Restoration Law”, which will be voted in the European Parliament’s Environment Committee, and further in the July Plenary session. Since French MEP and Environment Committee Chair Pascal Canfin has declared that ecology is “the number one emergency”, it is now up to him and Stéphane Séjourné, President of the Renew group, to ensure the voting discipline of the entire Renew group, and not just that of the French delegation. They must prevent Renew’s anti-ecological axis from taking root in the European landscape through an irresponsible alliance between the Liberal Right (Renew), the conservative and eurosceptic Right (EPP and ECR), and the Far-Right (ID).
The Liberal Right has our immediate future in its hands
Our assessment shows that the Right of the European political spectrum is finding it hard to shake off its old ways and reinvent itself in the face of the existential challenges we are confronted with as a result of climate change and the collapse of life on Earth, whereas the Far-Right is no different from the conservative Right when it comes to sabotaging the planet and the climate.
Our analysis confirms the overall coherence of the Eco-Left group, which is the real progressive force when it comes to defending the climate and the environment in European institutions. But for the European Union’s environmental ambitions to become reality, the Ecological Left block relies on the goodwill of the Liberal group torn between the evidence of the environmental emergency, and the faithfulness to industrial lobbies.
Thinking that the fate of our societies depends on a group with no strong environmental commitment is hardly reassuring, but our assessment should enable NGOs and citizens campaigning for the adoption of essential texts, such as the “Nature Restoration Law”, to know where to direct their efforts. Let’s hope that the Renew Group gets its act together between now and the European elections.