Institutionalization and Professionalization Within the European Parliament: Forty Years After

Mr. Paolo Marzi
Prof. Luca Verzichelli

Poor performance, low level of continuity in office and a weak degree of institutionalization. These, in a nutshell, are the well-known characteristics of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) according to a broad literature stretching from the early (and over-enthusiastic) developments of the EU assembly up to the most recent round of European elections.

But although those general assertions are certainly hard to dispute, it is also noteworthy to mention how literature mostly set its focus on the pars destruens concerning MEPs’ inner paradox: representing an «elite project» at the core of the EU institutional architecture without forming a consolidated elite. Much more neglected, per contra, is the exploration of the elements behind the decision to keep playing the role of MEP, or at least to invest in this peculiar institutional arena more than the average EU politician.

Forty years after the first direct election of the EP, we aim at providing a modernized investigation concerning the patterns of stability and institutionalization within the EP, in light of a profoundly changed institutional scenario. Through the analysis of an original dataset, the study tests several hypotheses concerning the relationship between the evolution of stability relative to supranational representatives and a whole plethora of country-specific, party-specific and systemic factors.