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The 8th European Parliament’S Performance in Foreign Policy Disaggregated: the Analysis of MEPs' Activities With Regard To Russia

Student: Ekaterina Bobrovnikova

Supervisor: Anna A. Dekalchuk

Faculty: Saint-Petersburg School of Social Sciences and Area Studies

Educational Programme: Political Science and World Politics (Bachelor)

Year of Graduation: 2020

This research paper aims to reveal which factors condition the behavior of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) with regard to Russia during the 8th parliamentary term and whether their behavior varies across the spheres of parliamentary activity. Adopting an institutional perspective, we assume that deputies behave differently depending on diverging incentives placed on them in three spheres with varying levels of principals control. By singling out a nationally divisive issue of Russia, we are able to trace the effect of both national and European Political Group affiliations on the MEPs’ performance. To answer the research question we first code sentiment expressed by MEPs with regard to Russia between 2014 and 2019 when they (1) vote on resolutions, (2) make oral and written statements during plenary sittings and (3) table written questions to the Commission. We then build several regression models to test how the behavior of MEPs is affected by the sphere of parliamentary activity in interaction with nationality and EPG membership. We find that members of Eurosceptic EPGs primarily express a positive attitude towards Russia in all three spheres. Moreover, behavior of MEPs from categories of states which adopt extreme stances on Russia (the Baltic States and Poland on the one hand and Greece and Cyprus on the other) is better explained by their national affiliation. We also show how voting can be driven by interactive effects of EPG/nationality and MEPs attitudes towards Russia.

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