Fading into the background? Cameron ‘less influential’ than obscure Lib Dem MEP

An obscure Liberal Democrat politician has beaten David Cameron to the top of a list of the most influential Britons in the European Union.

A panel of 15 experts judged Lib Dem MEP Sharon Bowles to be the Briton with the most influence on EU policy – and found the UK's prime minister was back in ninth position.

Bowles is chair of the European parliament's economic and monetary affairs committee, giving her a key position of influence on the EU's banking reforms.

"Current circumstances and the fact that financial services are vital to the City and the UK no doubt lies behind my ranking in this list," she said.

European Commission bureaucrat Jonathan Faull, who is responsible for overseeing the approval of controversial banking union plans, is in second place, while the Tories' Malcolm Harbour MEP – who leads the internal markets committee – is third.

"This list puts a new light on Britain’s relations with Europe," Sir Julian Priestley, who chaired the jury determining the ranking, said.

"It shows often unsung, sometimes unknown Britons at work exercising real influence in Europe, shaping policies, making a strong and constructive contribution to Europe's future."

Conservative MPs have championed Cameron for making a difference in Europe after the prime minister vetoed a proposed move towards greater fiscal and monetary integration last December.

But the panel of judges, for Euractiv.com, found that Cameron's influence fell short of those wielded by lesser-known figures like Richard Corbett, a member of EU president Herman Van Rompuy's Cabinet, and Philip Lowe, the Commission director-general for energy.

Foreign secretary William Hague was eighth, one place above the prime minister, while the EU's foreign policy chief, Cathy Ashton, was placed fifth.

1. Sharon Bowles MEP
2. Jonathan Faull (Commission d-g for internal market and services)
3. Malcolm Harbour MEP
4. Richard Corbett (Member of Cabinet of Herman Van Rompuy)
5. Baroness Cathy Ashton (High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy)
6. Philip Lowe (Commission d-g for energy)
7. Robert Madelin (Commission d-g for comms networks, content and tech)
8. William Hague MP – Foreign secretary
9. David Cameron MP – PM
10. Andrew Duff MEP