The work of the European Parliament
6. The role of intergroups
Intergroups are transversal organisations that bring together MEPs from different political groups and committees for informal exchanges of views on particular issues and to promote contacts between MEPs and civil society. They are not organs of the EP and, formally, they cannot take a position or vote but they can bring particular issues to the attention of key figures in the EU. By organising meetings between MEPs from different groups, intergroups are able to put the spotlight on specific issues. By inviting certain speakers, they signal particular points of view. They can also invite Commissioners for an exchange of views.
The very existence of an intergroup on an issue indicates that the EP finds it important. The strength of an intergroup depends on how active it is and the level of involvement of MEPs.
The work of the intergroups is divided into parliamentary and non-parliamentary.
Parliamentary work includes drafting briefings, parliamentary questions, resolutions, declarations, reports, parliamentary hearings and advising ahead of major votes.
Non-parliamentary work includes organising and participating in events (inside and outside the EP), writing articles, letters and press releases, newsletters and managing the online presence.
The work of intergroups, especially those dealing with racism and discrimination, is particularly relevant for the purposes of this course: Disability Intergroup, Anti-discrimination and diversity intergroup (ARDI),Intergroup on freedom of religion and belief (FORB), Intergroup on LGBTI Rights.
We will pay particular attention to the Anti-Discrimination and Diversity Intergroup (ARDI), which aims to counter racism and inform about the action of the EP against discrimination.
ARDI has 7 informal working groups, made up of members interested in specific topics such as Islamophobia, Afrophobia, Xenophobia, and racism against nomads.Here Alfiaz Vaiya*, coordinator of ARDI from 2015 to 2019, explains the work of the intergroup in more detail.
Alfiaz also explains how intergroups influence the EU legislative process on anti-discrimination.
In 2016, ARDI obtained the waiver of parliamentary immunity for two MEPs responsible for hate speech. Here Alfiaz talks about this episode and the work of the intergroup against hate speech in Europe.
*Alfiaz Vaiya was the coordinator of ARDI from September 2015 to 2019. Before joining ARDI, Alfiaz worked on anti-discrimination issues for civil society organisations in London and Brussels and in the European Parliament. Alfiaz has a law degree from Leeds Metropolitan University and a master's degree in International Relations: Global Economic Governance from the University of Birmingham.
The intergroups of the European Parliament