European Parliament Speeches

Exploring the Political Agenda of the European Parliament


This study analyzes the politics of the European Parliament (EP) by considering how the political agenda of the plenary sessions has evolved over time and the manner in which Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have reacted to external and internal stimuli when making Parliamentary speeches. It does so by considering the context in which speeches are made, and the content of those speeches. The content of speeches is analyzed using a dynamic topic modeling approach, based on matrix factorization, to detect latent themes in legislative speeches over time. This approach is applied to a new corpus of over 210k English language legislative speeches in the EP plenary from the period 1999-2014, originating from the EU Europarl website. Our findings suggest that the political agenda of the EP has evolved significantly over time, and that unsurprisingly external shocks like EU enlargement in 2004 and 2007, the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, and the emergence of the Euro-crisis in 2010 have a significant impact on what is being discussed in Parliament. We also investigate how the frequency and content of MEPs plenary speeches evolves as both the national and European-level election cycles proceed, thus shedding light upon how sitting MEPs use the plenary as a podium for electoral campaigning.


This website contains supplementary material for the paper:
 —D. Greene, J. P. Cross. "Exploring the Political Agenda of the European Parliament Using a Dynamic Topic Modeling Approach". Political Analysis, 2016. [Paper]  [BibTeX]

This project is an ongoing collaboration between Derek Greene, Insight and UCD School of Computer Science, and James P. Cross, Lecturer in European Public Policy at UCD.