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When we analysed the tweets posted in the last month by MEPs from France, Italy, Spain and Germany, we discovered that they rarely talk about specifically European issues. Could this be due to the delay in forming the new European Commission?
European citizens have many shared concerns: from immigration to climate change, from welfare to the economy, from foreign affairs to the protection of rights. However, the European Parliament members elected last May don’t seem particularly interested in discussing such issues. Instead, they’re far more likely to talk about more domestic concerns.
The fifty words most frequently tweeted by Spanish MEPs over the last month show that the national elections on 12 November were of prime importance. Among the most eye-catching words here are “gobierno”, “Vox”, “Sánchez” and “Cataluña”. In contrast, words with a strict reference to European affairs are few and far between.
While a national election may justify this focus on national concerns, one would expect MEPs from other countries to turn their attention to Europe. Tweets posted by Italian MEPs, however, also show much more concern with domestic politics: among the words most frequently tweeted by Italian MEPs are “scudo” (an abbreviation of “scudo penale”, a reference to the ILVA steelworks in Taranto), “tasse” (in reference to the Conte government’s Tax Decree) and the names of national politicians.
The word clouds generated for French and German MEPs suggest a little more openness to European themes, even if the most frequently used words are rather broad (“parliament”, “commission”, “European”). Specific references to the main European issues are still rare, except for some tweets concerning the climate and labour.
In all of these word clouds, the names of the MEPs’ respective countries take centre stage. This suggests a natural bias among representatives in favour of their national interests within the European institutions. It also suggests that broader, European interests take a back seat. However, this focus on national issues might be explained by the delays in forming the new European Commission.
More than five months since the European elections, the next Commission still hasn’t taken office. The delay has led to a certain inertia within the outgoing Commission; during the transitional months the Commission has mostly dealt with day-to-day business, without adopting any specific initiatives.