In Brussels, the power to initiate laws rests with the European Commission, and the political will that makes or breaks legislation lies with national governments in the Council. That dynamic used to leave the European Parliament out in the cold. No longer.
Over the past few years, the Parliament has been stealing the show in EU decision-making. Its MEPs have played key roles in shaping trade deals and budget decisions, and have driven crucial reforms such as ending mobile roaming charges and passing sweeping new copyright laws.
As MEPs’ terms come to an end this month ahead of the European Parliament election in May, we’re looking back at the 40 lawmakers who have had the greatest impact on the most high-profile debates of the past five years: on the rule of law across the bloc; on transparency; on regulating markets; and tackling climate change, to name a few.
This list isn’t a round-up of pro-European legislators. In fact, many MEPs chosen here have injected a heavy dose of Euroskepticism into the political discussion. Our goal is to pick out those who have wielded tangible political influence, set the agenda and stood out from their peers, driving trends both within the legislative arena and in the wider EU political debate.
Some on this list matter for what they did after they left the Parliament, rather than what they did as MEPs. Among the 109 MEPs who quit during this parliamentary term, at least four left to become prime minister or president in their home country.