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In this 2024 EU Elections, Vote Informed

The European elections sound far from our daily lives, yet European institutions lead crucial decisions that affect our daily lives. Based on the vote choices of the last five years, BeeLife has generated a tool, MEP scores,  so that Europeans are informed about what their representatives have voted. With this tool, we hope that our co-citizens will choose on the 9 June the Members of the European Parliament, our representatives, that will ensure a future for society and economy (consumers, beekeepers, farmers) and the environment (bees and pollinators). 


For BeeLife, bees, pollinators and beekeepers are thermometers of the quality of the environment. If bees and pollinators go well, we are sure that the water we drink, the air we breathe and the food we eat are of the highest quality. Unfortunately, this is not the case at the moment. Thus, we work very hard to disseminate and inform decision-makers about the importance of these animals for our good health, food security, and safety. We bring them the latest field observations and science so that policy can be science-based. 



The Current Situation


For some years now, EU pollinators have been experiencing a catastrophic situation, with managed honey bees experiencing national annual colony losses ranging from 2-33%[1] and wild pollinators showing negative population trends, with 9% of the species facing extinction[2]. The EU Green Deal ambitions and targets[3] for sustainability were necessary to stop the situation from degrading even further. The beekeeping sector had to overcome the costs of losing their production means and experiencing years of poor productivity because of climate change. When they managed to produce, the unloyal competition of “fake honey” (fraudulent honey produced from syrups and not from nectar[4]) made the selling prices collapse[5]. Legislators like the Members of the European Parliament (elected by citizens) and the national Member States (represented by the Council of the EU) were requested to create policies that could solve the situation.


MEP Scores


During the last five years, several votes and legislative proposals have been vital opportunities to improve/solve the situation. We have calculated MEP Scores based on a selection of these votes, which can be found in the methodology described on the website. The European Parliament is transparent about some of the votes carried out in Plenary sessions (when all MEPs are present), and we citizens have access to the direction of the votes of the MEPs (For, Against, Abstention, Absent). By choosing the opinion or vote choice of Parliamentarians on some Commission legislative proposals or the amendments proposed to these proposals, it is possible to create a profile of how Bee coherent, meaning how much the MEP has supported bees and pollinators, pollination, beekeepers, consumer health and transparency or their support to fight unfair competition from imported food tuffs.

The MEP scores are shown individually but also shown per Country, Political Party and Gender. 

The overall score of the MEPs during the last five years (867 people) is 60 (out of 100). This is positive, but more is needed to achieve the ideal support. 


(The Complete list of MEP scores is available at https://bee-life.mepwatch.eu)


The most supportive or Bee coherent countries have been Ireland (81), Cyprus (80) and Malta (78), while the most damaging for pollinators were Hungary (43), Poland (43) and the Czech Republic (45). 

The Political Parties ordered in descending Bee coherent order are the Greens/EFA (Ecologists, 93), the Left/GUE (Left-wing, 90), S&D (Socialists, 80), Renew (Liberals, 74), EPP (Christian-democratic, liberal-conservative, and conservative, 40), NI (Independent, including many British MEPs pro-Brexit and a mixture of MEPs that left their Groups, 50),  ECR (Conservatives and Reformists, 26),  ID (right-wing to far-right, 28).


Although female MEPs are less numerous in the Parliament, they are more coherent (65) than male MEPs (57).


We invite citizens to interact with the MEP scores tool to discover the past choices of their national MEPs. By clicking on their picture, you can see the participation rate (the frequency that the person was not absent during the votes selected), the country, and the national and European Party they belong to. Finally, the score was out of 100. Those who have followed the European Parliament activities may be shocked by some scores of people who were either very supportive or not at all, and they do not recognise the score provided. Some cases are, for example, the French Eric Andrieu, who was very active in the past but appears neutral because he left Parliament and did not participate in the votes considered—or Michelle Rivasi, who unfortunately passed away during the legislature. 


(Also visit our Bee Coherent Awards Page)


Typically, MEPs from the EPP and some S&D and Renew have supported the beekeeping sector via their vote on the Honey Directive to avoid fake honey from invading our market. This sectorial support was very much needed to maintain a profession living in critical moments. Beekeepers, bees and all pollinators are dependent on other farmers' technical choices and citizens' behaviour in their territory (impacting the quality and quantity of food resources and habitat, as any other pollinator) and consumption choices, but they are also affected by climate change (leading to aleatory productions) and increased cost of production as any other farming sector. Unfortunately, these MEPs failed to understand the environmental needs of pollinators, voting against (or abstaining in the best cases) the legislative proposals that could help the transition towards a healthier farming model for farmers, consumers and the planet and more resilient to climate change. We invite these MEPs to reflect on it and use these scores to reflect on the legacy they are willing to leave behind.  


Conclusion


Bees, pollinators and beekeepers are symbols of sustainability, biodiversity and balance. Their current situation is critical, and Europe needs action to bring balance back into our territory. BeeLife believes we can achieve this by being transparent and committed to the greater public good. That is why we have transformed the votes data into a tool that helps citizens make choices in the coming elections. For you, your children, society, and the environment, vote informed and vote according to your values. Seize the opportunity for change now!




References

[1] Data from COLOSS, publications available at https://coloss.org/activities/coreprojects/monitoring/ 

[2] Nieto et al. (2014) European Red List of Bees; van Swaay et al. (2008) European Red List of Butterflies; Hallmann et al. (2017)  More than 75 percent decline over 27 years in total flying insect biomass in protected areas.

[3] European Commission - The European Green Deal (2019). https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_19_6691.

[4] European Commission, Health and Food Safety Directorate-General. ‘From the Hives. Sampling, Investigations and Results.’ Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union., 2023. chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/https://food.ec.europa.eu/system/files/2023-03/official-controls_food-fraud_2021-2_honey_report_euca.pdf 

[5] Market presentation provided by the European Commission at the Civil Dialogue Group of 22/04/2024. Available at:  https://agriculture.ec.europa.eu/common-agricultural-policy/cap-overview/committees-and-expert-groups/civil-dialogue-groups/animal-production_en 


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