Two useful tools to become more acquainted with the machine of the European Parliament – to my view the most interesting and most challenging part of the EU’s machinery.
. VoteWatch Europe: it will give you an idea of who voted what and when, but you will also find information on the Parliament and other institutions along with links to texts, official communications, sessions’ proceedings and the like. A goldmine.
. Then, the Brussels Business Online, a simulation tool created by the makers of the eponymous documentary. The tool will give you the possibility to follow discussions on specific items of law, from lobbyists’ opinions to the vote, give feedback to MPs, get information on the votes, etc. The website hosted by Arte Tv doesn’t give much information on how to use the tool, but you will find a presentation here. Disclosure: this website is in connection with Alter-EU, “Europe’s campaign for lobbying transparency”. Thus, the tool puts a premium on presenting the action of lobbyists, and the way they set their arguments forward. It can be a bit artificial: no mention is made for instance of the work done by lobbyists and other “groupements d’intérêts” in producing, more than opinions, also basic data for the MPs to judge technical issues. For resource-starved MPs, these groups are a source of technical information on the issues under scrutiny, which is not always negative. But anyhow, great work and a fascinating dip in the Parliament’s machine.