The European Parliament: The Voice of the Citizens

Basics:
Function:     EU’s directly elected legislature
Next Election: June 2014
Meetings:     Monthly general meetings in Strasbourg, France; Committee meetings and additional meetings in Brussels, Belgium
Address:     Plateau du Kirchberg, B.P. 1601 L - 2929 Luxembourg
 Tel:  (352)43 00 -1
 Website:      http://www.europarl.europa.eu

 

 

The Members of the Parliament (MEPs), dating back to the 1950s and the founding treaties, are directly elected by those whom they represent since 1979.

Elections are held every five years, and every EU citizen registered as a voter has the right to vote. This way, the parliament expresses the democratic aspirations of approximately 500 million citizens of the EU and represents their interests in negotiations with other institutions.

MEPs do not sit along national party lines in the European Parliament, but in seven political groups that exist throughout Europe. In this range, parliamentarians represent all views on European integration from the advocates of the federalist structure to the European sceptics (Eurosceptics).

Where is the Parliament located?

The Parliament has three seats: Brussels, Belgium; Luxembourg; and Strasbourg, France. Luxembourg hosts the Secretariat of the Parliament. Meetings with all parliamentarians, known as “Plenary Sessions,” are held in Strasbourg and sometimes in Brussels. In addition, committee meetings are held in Brussels.

What does Parliament do?

Parliament has three main roles as follows:

  1. Passing EU laws together with the Council in many policy areas,
    The direct election of the Parliament by citizens helps to guarantee the democratic legitimacy of the EU law;
  2. Parliament exercises democratic oversight over other EU institutions, especially the Commission.
    Parliament has the authority to reject or ratify commissioner candidates and has the right to reject the Commission as a body.
  3. Parliament, along with the Council, has authority over the EU budget and can, thus, influence EU spending. At the end of this procedure, it might approve or reject the budget as a whole.

Seats per country (2009-2014)
(Country names in alphabetical order, according to their own language)

Austria

17

 

Latvia

8

Belgium

22

 

Lithuania

12

Bulgaria

17

 

Luxembourg

6

Cyprus

6

 

Malta

5

Czechia

22

 

Netherlands

25

Denmark

13

 

Poland

50

Estonia

6

 

Portugal

22

Finland

13

 

Romania

33

France

72

 

Slovakia

13

Germany

99

 

Slovenia

7

Greece

22

 

Spain

50

Hungary

22

 

Sweden

18

Ireland

12

 

United Kingdom

72

Italy

72

 

 

 

Total

736