European Parliament

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For the body of the Council of Europe, see Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. European Parliament_sentence_0

For the latest elections, see 2019 European Parliament election. European Parliament_sentence_1

European Parliament_table_infobox_0

European Parliament


Name in official languages


Bulgarian:

Европейски парламент


Croatian:

Europski parlament


Czech:

Evropský parlament


Danish:

Europa-Parlamentet


Dutch:

Europees Parlement


English:

European parliament


Estonian:

Euroopa Parlament


Finnish:

Euroopan parlamentti


French:

Parlement européen


German:

Europäisches Parlament


Greek:

Ευρωπαϊκό Κοινοβούλιο


Hungarian:

Európai Parlament


Irish:

Parlaimint na hEorpa


Italian:

Parlamento europeo


Latvian:

Eiropas Parlaments


Lithuanian:

Europos Parlamentas


Maltese:

Parlament Ewropew


Polish:

Parlament Europejski


Portuguese:

Parlamento Europeu


Romanian:

Parlamentul European


Slovak:

Európsky parlament


Slovene:

Evropski parlament


Spanish:

Parlamento Europeo


Swedish:

EuropaparlamentetEuropean Parliament_header_cell_0_0_0

Name in official languagesEuropean Parliament_header_cell_0_1_0
Bulgarian:European Parliament_header_cell_0_2_0 Европейски парламентEuropean Parliament_cell_0_2_1
Croatian:European Parliament_header_cell_0_3_0 Europski parlamentEuropean Parliament_cell_0_3_1
Czech:European Parliament_header_cell_0_4_0 Evropský parlamentEuropean Parliament_cell_0_4_1
Danish:European Parliament_header_cell_0_5_0 Europa-ParlamentetEuropean Parliament_cell_0_5_1
Dutch:European Parliament_header_cell_0_6_0 Europees ParlementEuropean Parliament_cell_0_6_1
English:European Parliament_header_cell_0_7_0 European parliamentEuropean Parliament_cell_0_7_1
Estonian:European Parliament_header_cell_0_8_0 Euroopa ParlamentEuropean Parliament_cell_0_8_1
Finnish:European Parliament_header_cell_0_9_0 Euroopan parlamenttiEuropean Parliament_cell_0_9_1
French:European Parliament_header_cell_0_10_0 Parlement européenEuropean Parliament_cell_0_10_1
German:European Parliament_header_cell_0_11_0 Europäisches ParlamentEuropean Parliament_cell_0_11_1
Greek:European Parliament_header_cell_0_12_0 Ευρωπαϊκό ΚοινοβούλιοEuropean Parliament_cell_0_12_1
Hungarian:European Parliament_header_cell_0_13_0 Európai ParlamentEuropean Parliament_cell_0_13_1
Irish:European Parliament_header_cell_0_14_0 Parlaimint na hEorpaEuropean Parliament_cell_0_14_1
Italian:European Parliament_header_cell_0_15_0 Parlamento europeoEuropean Parliament_cell_0_15_1
Latvian:European Parliament_header_cell_0_16_0 Eiropas ParlamentsEuropean Parliament_cell_0_16_1
Lithuanian:European Parliament_header_cell_0_17_0 Europos ParlamentasEuropean Parliament_cell_0_17_1
Maltese:European Parliament_header_cell_0_18_0 Parlament EwropewEuropean Parliament_cell_0_18_1
Polish:European Parliament_header_cell_0_19_0 Parlament EuropejskiEuropean Parliament_cell_0_19_1
Portuguese:European Parliament_header_cell_0_20_0 Parlamento EuropeuEuropean Parliament_cell_0_20_1
Romanian:European Parliament_header_cell_0_21_0 Parlamentul EuropeanEuropean Parliament_cell_0_21_1
Slovak:European Parliament_header_cell_0_22_0 Európsky parlamentEuropean Parliament_cell_0_22_1
Slovene:European Parliament_header_cell_0_23_0 Evropski parlamentEuropean Parliament_cell_0_23_1
Spanish:European Parliament_header_cell_0_24_0 Parlamento EuropeoEuropean Parliament_cell_0_24_1
Swedish:European Parliament_header_cell_0_25_0 EuropaparlamentetEuropean Parliament_cell_0_25_1
HistoryEuropean Parliament_header_cell_0_26_0
FoundedEuropean Parliament_header_cell_0_27_0 10 September 1952 (1952-09-10)European Parliament_cell_0_27_1
Preceded byEuropean Parliament_header_cell_0_28_0 Common Assembly of the European Coal and Steel CommunityEuropean Parliament_cell_0_28_1
LeadershipEuropean Parliament_header_cell_0_29_0
PresidentEuropean Parliament_header_cell_0_30_0 David Sassoli, S&D

since 3 July 2019European Parliament_cell_0_30_1

First Vice-PresidentEuropean Parliament_header_cell_0_31_0 Roberta Metsola, EPP

since 12 November 2020European Parliament_cell_0_31_1

Vice-PresidentsEuropean Parliament_header_cell_0_32_0 13European Parliament_cell_0_32_1
Secretary-GeneralEuropean Parliament_header_cell_0_33_0 Klaus Welle

since 15 March 2009European Parliament_cell_0_33_1

Group leadersEuropean Parliament_header_cell_0_34_0 10European Parliament_cell_0_34_1
StructureEuropean Parliament_header_cell_0_35_0
SeatsEuropean Parliament_header_cell_0_36_0 European Parliament_cell_0_36_1
Political groupsEuropean Parliament_header_cell_0_37_0 8European Parliament_cell_0_37_1
CommitteesEuropean Parliament_header_cell_0_38_0 22European Parliament_cell_0_38_1
Length of termEuropean Parliament_header_cell_0_39_0 5 yearsEuropean Parliament_cell_0_39_1
ElectionsEuropean Parliament_header_cell_0_40_0
Voting systemEuropean Parliament_header_cell_0_41_0 Chosen by member state, systems include:European Parliament_cell_0_41_1
Last electionEuropean Parliament_header_cell_0_42_0 23–26 May 2019European Parliament_cell_0_42_1
MottoEuropean Parliament_header_cell_0_43_0
Meeting placeEuropean Parliament_header_cell_0_44_0
WebsiteEuropean Parliament_header_cell_0_45_0
ConstitutionEuropean Parliament_header_cell_0_46_0

The European Parliament (EP) is one of three legislative branches of the European Union and one of its seven institutions. European Parliament_sentence_2

Together with the Council of the European Union, it adopts European legislation, commonly on the proposal of the European Commission. European Parliament_sentence_3

The Parliament is composed of 705 members (MEPs). European Parliament_sentence_4

It represents the second-largest democratic electorate in the world (after the Parliament of India) and the largest trans-national democratic electorate in the world (375 million eligible voters in 2009). European Parliament_sentence_5

Since 1979, the Parliament has been directly elected every five years by the citizens of the European Union through universal suffrage. European Parliament_sentence_6

Voter turnout in parliamentary elections has decreased each time after 1979 until 2019, when voter turnout increased by 8 percentage points, and went above 50% for the first time since 1994. European Parliament_sentence_7

The voting age is 18 in all member states except for Malta and Austria, where it is 16, and Greece, where it is 17. European Parliament_sentence_8

Although the European Parliament has legislative power, as does the Council, it does not formally possess the right of initiative – which is a prerogative of the European Commission – as most national parliaments of the member states do. European Parliament_sentence_9

The Parliament is the "first institution" of the European Union (mentioned first in its treaties and having ceremonial precedence over the other EU institutions), and shares equal legislative and budgetary powers with the Council (except on a few issues where the special legislative procedures apply). European Parliament_sentence_10

It likewise has equal control over the EU budget. European Parliament_sentence_11

Ultimately, the European Commission, which serves as the executive branch of the EU, is accountable to Parliament. European Parliament_sentence_12

In particular, Parliament can decide whether or not to approve the European Council's nominee for President of the Commission, and is further tasked with approving (or rejecting) the appointment of the Commission as a whole. European Parliament_sentence_13

It can subsequently coerce the current Commission to resign by adopting a motion of censure. European Parliament_sentence_14

The President of the European Parliament (Parliament's speaker) is David Sassoli (PD), elected in July 2019. European Parliament_sentence_15

He presides over a multi-party chamber, the five largest groups being the European People's Party group (EPP), the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D), Renew Europe (previously ALDE), the Greens/European Free Alliance (Greens–EFA) and Identity and Democracy (ID). European Parliament_sentence_16

The last EU-wide elections were the 2019 elections. European Parliament_sentence_17

The Parliament is headquartered in Strasbourg, France, and has its administrative offices in Luxembourg City. European Parliament_sentence_18

Plenary sessions take place in Strasbourg as well as in Brussels, Belgium, while the Parliament's committee meetings are held primarily in Brussels. European Parliament_sentence_19

History European Parliament_section_0

Further information: History of the European Union European Parliament_sentence_20

The Parliament, like the other institutions, was not designed in its current form when it first met on 10 September 1952. European Parliament_sentence_21

One of the oldest common institutions, it began as the Common Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). European Parliament_sentence_22

It was a consultative assembly of 78 appointed parliamentarians drawn from the national parliaments of member states, having no legislative powers. European Parliament_sentence_23

The change since its foundation was highlighted by Professor David Farrell of the University of Manchester: "For much of its life, the European Parliament could have been justly labelled a 'multi-lingual talking shop'." European Parliament_sentence_24

Its development since its foundation shows how the European Union's structures have evolved without a clear ‘master plan’. European Parliament_sentence_25

Some, such as Tom Reid of the Washington Post, said of the union: "nobody would have deliberately designed a government as complex and as redundant as the EU". European Parliament_sentence_26

Even the Parliament's two seats, which have switched several times, are a result of various agreements or lack of agreements. European Parliament_sentence_27

Although most MEPs would prefer to be based just in Brussels, at John Major's 1992 Edinburgh summit, France engineered a treaty amendment to maintain Parliament's plenary seat permanently at Strasbourg. European Parliament_sentence_28

Consultative assembly European Parliament_section_1

The body was not mentioned in the original Schuman Declaration. European Parliament_sentence_29

It was assumed or hoped that difficulties with the British would be resolved to allow the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to perform the task. European Parliament_sentence_30

A separate Assembly was introduced during negotiations on the Treaty as an institution which would counterbalance and monitor the executive while providing democratic legitimacy. European Parliament_sentence_31

The wording of the ECSC Treaty demonstrated the leaders' desire for more than a normal consultative assembly by using the term "representatives of the people" and allowed for direct election. European Parliament_sentence_32

Its early importance was highlighted when the Assembly was given the task of drawing up the draft treaty to establish a European Political Community. European Parliament_sentence_33

By this document, the Ad Hoc Assembly was established on 13 September 1952 with extra members, but after the failure of the negotiated and proposed European Defence Community (French parliament veto) the project was dropped. European Parliament_sentence_34

Despite this, the European Economic Community and Euratom were established in 1958 by the Treaties of Rome. European Parliament_sentence_35

The Common Assembly was shared by all three communities (which had separate executives) and it renamed itself the European Parliamentary Assembly. European Parliament_sentence_36

The first meeting was held on 19 March 1958 having been set up in Luxembourg City, it elected Schuman as its president and on 13 May it rearranged itself to sit according to political ideology rather than nationality. European Parliament_sentence_37

This is seen as the birth of the modern European Parliament, with Parliament's 50 years celebrations being held in March 2008 rather than 2002. European Parliament_sentence_38

The three communities merged their remaining organs as the European Communities in 1967, and the body's name was changed to the current "European Parliament" in 1962. European Parliament_sentence_39

In 1970 the Parliament was granted power over areas of the Communities' budget, which were expanded to the whole budget in 1975. European Parliament_sentence_40

Under the Rome Treaties, the Parliament should have become elected. European Parliament_sentence_41

However, the Council was required to agree a uniform voting system beforehand, which it failed to do. European Parliament_sentence_42

The Parliament threatened to take the Council to the European Court of Justice; this led to a compromise whereby the Council would agree to elections, but the issue of voting systems would be put off until a later date. European Parliament_sentence_43

Elected Parliament European Parliament_section_2

In 1979, its members were directly elected for the first time. European Parliament_sentence_44

This sets it apart from similar institutions such as those of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe or Pan-African Parliament which are appointed. European Parliament_sentence_45

After that first election, the parliament held its first session on 11 July 1979, electing Simone Veil MEP as its president. European Parliament_sentence_46

Veil was also the first female president of the Parliament since it was formed as the Common Assembly. European Parliament_sentence_47

As an elected body, the Parliament began to draft proposals addressing the functioning of the EU. European Parliament_sentence_48

For example, in 1984, inspired by its previous work on the Political Community, it drafted the "draft Treaty establishing the European Union" (also known as the 'Spinelli Plan' after its rapporteur Altiero Spinelli MEP). European Parliament_sentence_49

Although it was not adopted, many ideas were later implemented by other treaties. European Parliament_sentence_50

Furthermore, the Parliament began holding votes on proposed Commission Presidents from the 1980s, before it was given any formal right to veto. European Parliament_sentence_51

Since it became an elected body, the membership of the European Parliament has simply expanded whenever new nations have joined (the membership was also adjusted upwards in 1994 after German reunification). European Parliament_sentence_52

Following this, the Treaty of Nice imposed a cap on the number of members to be elected: 732. European Parliament_sentence_53

Like the other institutions, the Parliament's seat was not yet fixed. European Parliament_sentence_54

The provisional arrangements placed Parliament in Strasbourg, while the Commission and Council had their seats in Brussels. European Parliament_sentence_55

In 1985 the Parliament, wishing to be closer to these institutions, built a second chamber in Brussels and moved some of its work there despite protests from some states. European Parliament_sentence_56

A final agreement was eventually reached by the European Council in 1992. European Parliament_sentence_57

It stated the Parliament would retain its formal seat in Strasbourg, where twelve sessions a year would be held, but with all other parliamentary activity in Brussels. European Parliament_sentence_58

This two-seat arrangement was contested by the Parliament, but was later enshrined in the Treaty of Amsterdam. European Parliament_sentence_59

To this day the institution's locations are a source of contention. European Parliament_sentence_60

The Parliament gained more powers from successive treaties, namely through the extension of the ordinary legislative procedure (then called the codecision procedure), and in 1999, the Parliament forced the resignation of the Santer Commission. European Parliament_sentence_61

The Parliament had refused to approve the Community budget over allegations of fraud and mis-management in the Commission. European Parliament_sentence_62

The two main parties took on a government-opposition dynamic for the first time during the crisis which ended in the Commission resigning en masse, the first of any forced resignation, in the face of an impending censure from the Parliament. European Parliament_sentence_63

Parliament pressure on the Commission European Parliament_section_3

In 2004, following the largest trans-national election in history, despite the European Council choosing a President from the largest political group (the EPP), the Parliament again exerted pressure on the Commission. European Parliament_sentence_64

During the Parliament's hearings of the proposed Commissioners MEPs raised doubts about some nominees with the Civil Liberties committee rejecting Rocco Buttiglione from the post of Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security over his views on homosexuality. European Parliament_sentence_65

That was the first time the Parliament had ever voted against an incoming Commissioner and despite Barroso's insistence upon Buttiglione the Parliament forced Buttiglione to be withdrawn. European Parliament_sentence_66

A number of other Commissioners also had to be withdrawn or reassigned before Parliament allowed the Barroso Commission to take office. European Parliament_sentence_67

Along with the extension of the ordinary legislative procedure, the Parliament's democratic mandate has given it greater control over legislation against the other institutions. European Parliament_sentence_68

In voting on the Bolkestein directive in 2006, the Parliament voted by a large majority for over 400 amendments that changed the fundamental principle of the law. European Parliament_sentence_69

The Financial Times described it in the following terms: European Parliament_sentence_70

In 2007, for the first time, Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini included Parliament in talks on the second Schengen Information System even though MEPs only needed to be consulted on parts of the package. European Parliament_sentence_71

After that experiment, Frattini indicated he would like to include Parliament in all justice and criminal matters, informally pre-empting the new powers they could gain as part of the Treaty of Lisbon. European Parliament_sentence_72

Between 2007 and 2009, a special working group on parliamentary reform implemented a series of changes to modernise the institution such as more speaking time for rapporteurs, increase committee co-operation and other efficiency reforms. European Parliament_sentence_73

Recent history European Parliament_section_4

Further information: Barroso Commission European Parliament_sentence_74

The Lisbon Treaty finally came into force on 1 December 2009, granting Parliament powers over the entire EU budget, making Parliament's legislative powers equal to the Council's in nearly all areas and linking the appointment of the Commission President to Parliament's own elections. European Parliament_sentence_75

Despite some calls for the parties to put forward candidates beforehand, only the EPP (which had re-secured their position as largest party) had one in re-endorsing Barroso. European Parliament_sentence_76

Barroso gained the support of the European Council for a second term and secured majority support from the Parliament in September 2009. European Parliament_sentence_77

Parliament voted 382 votes in favour and 219 votes against (117 abstentions ) with support of the European People's Party, European Conservatives and Reformists and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe. European Parliament_sentence_78

The liberals gave support after Barroso gave them a number of concessions; the liberals previously joined the socialists' call for a delayed vote (the EPP had wanted to approve Barroso in July of that year). European Parliament_sentence_79

Once Barroso put forward the candidates for his next Commission, another opportunity to gain concessions arose. European Parliament_sentence_80

Bulgarian nominee Rumiana Jeleva was forced to step down by Parliament due to concerns over her experience and financial interests. European Parliament_sentence_81

She only had the support of the EPP which began to retaliate on left wing candidates before Jeleva gave in and was replaced (setting back the final vote further). European Parliament_sentence_82

Before the final vote, Parliament demanded a number of concessions as part of a future working agreement under the new Lisbon Treaty. European Parliament_sentence_83

The deal includes that Parliament's President will attend high level Commission meetings. European Parliament_sentence_84

Parliament will have a seat in the EU's Commission-led international negotiations and have a right to information on agreements. European Parliament_sentence_85

However, Parliament secured only an observer seat. European Parliament_sentence_86

Parliament also did not secure a say over the appointment of delegation heads and special representatives for foreign policy. European Parliament_sentence_87

Although they will appear before parliament after they have been appointed by the High Representative. European Parliament_sentence_88

One major internal power was that Parliament wanted a pledge from the Commission that it would put forward legislation when parliament requests. European Parliament_sentence_89

Barroso considered this an infringement on the Commission's powers but did agree to respond within three months. European Parliament_sentence_90

Most requests are already responded to positively. European Parliament_sentence_91

During the setting up of the European External Action Service (EEAS), Parliament used its control over the EU budget to influence the shape of the EEAS. European Parliament_sentence_92

MEPs had aimed at getting greater oversight over the EEAS by linking it to the Commission and having political deputies to the High Representative. European Parliament_sentence_93

MEPs didn't manage to get everything they demanded. European Parliament_sentence_94

However, they got broader financial control over the new body. European Parliament_sentence_95

In January 2019, Conservative MEPs supported proposals to boost opportunities for women and tackle sexual harassment in the European Parliament. European Parliament_sentence_96

Powers and functions European Parliament_section_5

The Parliament and Council have been compared to the two chambers of a bicameral legislature. European Parliament_sentence_97

However, there are some differences from national legislatures; for example, neither the Parliament nor the Council have the power of legislative initiative (except for the fact that the Council has the power in some intergovernmental matters). European Parliament_sentence_98

In Community matters, this is a power uniquely reserved for the European Commission (the executive). European Parliament_sentence_99

Therefore, while Parliament can amend and reject legislation, to make a proposal for legislation, it needs the Commission to draft a bill before anything can become law. European Parliament_sentence_100

The value of such a power has been questioned by noting that in the national legislatures of the member states 85% of initiatives introduced without executive support fail to become law. European Parliament_sentence_101

Yet it has been argued by former Parliament president Hans-Gert Pöttering that as the Parliament does have the right to ask the Commission to draft such legislation, and as the Commission is following Parliament's proposals more and more Parliament does have a de facto right of legislative initiative. European Parliament_sentence_102

The Parliament also has a great deal of indirect influence, through non-binding resolutions and committee hearings, as a "pan-European soapbox" with the ear of thousands of Brussels-based journalists. European Parliament_sentence_103

There is also an indirect effect on foreign policy; the Parliament must approve all development grants, including those overseas. European Parliament_sentence_104

For example, the support for post-war Iraq reconstruction, or incentives for the cessation of Iranian nuclear development, must be supported by the Parliament. European Parliament_sentence_105

Parliamentary support was also required for the transatlantic passenger data-sharing deal with the United States. European Parliament_sentence_106

Finally, Parliament holds a non-binding vote on new EU treaties but cannot veto it. European Parliament_sentence_107

However, when Parliament threatened to vote down the Nice Treaty, the Belgian and Italian Parliaments said they would veto the treaty on the European Parliament's behalf. European Parliament_sentence_108

Legislative procedure European Parliament_section_6

With each new treaty, the powers of the Parliament, in terms of its role in the Union's legislative procedures, have expanded. European Parliament_sentence_109

The procedure which has slowly become dominant is the "ordinary legislative procedure" (previously named "codecision procedure"), which provides an equal footing between Parliament and Council. European Parliament_sentence_110

In particular, under the procedure, the Commission presents a proposal to Parliament and the Council which can only become law if both agree on a text, which they do (or not) through successive readings up to a maximum of three. European Parliament_sentence_111

In its first reading, Parliament may send amendments to the Council which can either adopt the text with those amendments or send back a "common position". European Parliament_sentence_112

That position may either be approved by Parliament, or it may reject the text by an absolute majority, causing it to fail, or it may adopt further amendments, also by an absolute majority. European Parliament_sentence_113

If the Council does not approve these, then a "Conciliation Committee" is formed. European Parliament_sentence_114

The Committee is composed of the Council members plus an equal number of MEPs who seek to agree a compromise. European Parliament_sentence_115

Once a position is agreed, it has to be approved by Parliament, by a simple majority. European Parliament_sentence_116

This is also aided by Parliament's mandate as the only directly democratic institution, which has given it leeway to have greater control over legislation than other institutions, for example over its changes to the Bolkestein directive in 2006. European Parliament_sentence_117

The few other areas that operate the special legislative procedures are justice and home affairs, budget and taxation, and certain aspects of other policy areas, such as the fiscal aspects of environmental policy. European Parliament_sentence_118

In these areas, the Council or Parliament decide law alone. European Parliament_sentence_119

The procedure also depends upon which type of institutional act is being used. European Parliament_sentence_120

The strongest act is a regulation, an act or law which is directly applicable in its entirety. European Parliament_sentence_121

Then there are directives which bind member states to certain goals which they must achieve. European Parliament_sentence_122

They do this through their own laws and hence have room to manoeuvre in deciding upon them. European Parliament_sentence_123

A decision is an instrument which is focused at a particular person or group and is directly applicable. European Parliament_sentence_124

Institutions may also issue recommendations and opinions which are merely non-binding, declarations. European Parliament_sentence_125

There is a further document which does not follow normal procedures, this is a "written declaration" which is similar to an early day motion used in the Westminster system. European Parliament_sentence_126

It is a document proposed by up to five MEPs on a matter within the EU's activities used to launch a debate on that subject. European Parliament_sentence_127

Having been posted outside the entrance to the hemicycle, members can sign the declaration and if a majority do so it is forwarded to the President and announced to the plenary before being forwarded to the other institutions and formally noted in the minutes. European Parliament_sentence_128

Budget European Parliament_section_7

The legislative branch officially holds the Union's budgetary authority with powers gained through the Budgetary Treaties of the 1970s and the Lisbon Treaty. European Parliament_sentence_129

The EU budget is subject to a form of the ordinary legislative procedure with a single reading giving Parliament power over the entire budget (before 2009, its influence was limited to certain areas) on an equal footing to the Council. European Parliament_sentence_130

If there is a disagreement between them, it is taken to a conciliation committee as it is for legislative proposals. European Parliament_sentence_131

If the joint conciliation text is not approved, the Parliament may adopt the budget definitively. European Parliament_sentence_132

The Parliament is also responsible for discharging the implementation of previous budgets based on the annual report of the European Court of Auditors. European Parliament_sentence_133

It has refused to approve the budget only twice, in 1984 and in 1998. European Parliament_sentence_134

On the latter occasion it led to the resignation of the Santer Commission; highlighting how the budgetary power gives Parliament a great deal of power over the Commission. European Parliament_sentence_135

Parliament also makes extensive use of its budgetary, and other powers, elsewhere; for example in the setting up of the European External Action Service, Parliament has a de facto veto over its design as it has to approve the budgetary and staff changes. European Parliament_sentence_136

Control of the executive European Parliament_section_8

The President of the European Commission is proposed by the European Council on the basis of the European elections to Parliament. European Parliament_sentence_137

That proposal has to be approved by the Parliament (by a simple majority) who "elect" the President according to the treaties. European Parliament_sentence_138

Following the approval of the Commission President, the members of the Commission are proposed by the President in accord with the member states. European Parliament_sentence_139

Each Commissioner comes before a relevant parliamentary committee hearing covering the proposed portfolio. European Parliament_sentence_140

They are then, as a body, approved or rejected by the Parliament. European Parliament_sentence_141

In practice, the Parliament has never voted against a President or his Commission, but it did seem likely when the Barroso Commission was put forward. European Parliament_sentence_142

The resulting pressure forced the proposal to be withdrawn and changed to be more acceptable to parliament. European Parliament_sentence_143

That pressure was seen as an important sign by some of the evolving nature of the Parliament and its ability to make the Commission accountable, rather than being a rubber stamp for candidates. European Parliament_sentence_144

Furthermore, in voting on the Commission, MEPs also voted along party lines, rather than national lines, despite frequent pressure from national governments on their MEPs. European Parliament_sentence_145

This cohesion and willingness to use the Parliament's power ensured greater attention from national leaders, other institutions and the public – who previously gave the lowest ever turnout for the Parliament's elections. European Parliament_sentence_146

The Parliament also has the power to censure the Commission if they have a two-thirds majority which will force the resignation of the entire Commission from office. European Parliament_sentence_147

As with approval, this power has never been used but it was threatened to the Santer Commission, who subsequently resigned of their own accord. European Parliament_sentence_148

There are a few other controls, such as: the requirement of Commission to submit reports to the Parliament and answer questions from MEPs; the requirement of the President-in-office of the Council to present its programme at the start of their presidency; the obligation on the President of the European Council to report to Parliament after each of its meetings; the right of MEPs to make requests for legislation and policy to the Commission; and the right to question members of those institutions (e.g. "Commission Question Time" every Tuesday). European Parliament_sentence_149

At present, MEPs may ask a question on any topic whatsoever, but in July 2008 MEPs voted to limit questions to those within the EU's mandate and ban offensive or personal questions. European Parliament_sentence_150

Supervisory powers European Parliament_section_9

The Parliament also has other powers of general supervision, mainly granted by the Maastricht Treaty. European Parliament_sentence_151

The Parliament has the power to set up a Committee of Inquiry, for example over mad cow disease or CIA detention flights – the former led to the creation of the European veterinary agency. European Parliament_sentence_152

The Parliament can call other institutions to answer questions and if necessary to take them to court if they break EU law or treaties. European Parliament_sentence_153

Furthermore, it has powers over the appointment of the members of the Court of Auditors and the president and executive board of the European Central Bank. European Parliament_sentence_154

The ECB president is also obliged to present an annual report to the parliament. European Parliament_sentence_155

The European Ombudsman is elected by the Parliament, who deals with public complaints against all institutions. European Parliament_sentence_156

Petitions can also be brought forward by any EU citizen on a matter within the EU's sphere of activities. European Parliament_sentence_157

The Committee on Petitions hears cases, some 1500 each year, sometimes presented by the citizen themselves at the Parliament. European Parliament_sentence_158

While the Parliament attempts to resolve the issue as a mediator they do resort to legal proceedings if it is necessary to resolve the citizens dispute. European Parliament_sentence_159

Members European Parliament_section_10

Main article: Member of the European Parliament European Parliament_sentence_160

The parliamentarians are known in English as Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). European Parliament_sentence_161

They are elected every five years by universal adult suffrage and sit according to political allegiance; about one third are women. European Parliament_sentence_162

Before 1979 they were appointed by their national parliaments. European Parliament_sentence_163

The Parliament has been criticized for underrepresentation of minority groups. European Parliament_sentence_164

In 2017, an estimated 17 MEPs were nonwhite, and of these, three were black, a disproportionately low number. European Parliament_sentence_165

According to activist organization European Network Against Racism, while an estimated 10% of Europe is composed of racial and ethnic minorities, only 5% of MEPs were members of such groups following the 2019 European Parliament election. European Parliament_sentence_166

Under the Lisbon Treaty, seats are allocated to each state according to population and the maximum number of members is set at 751 (however, as the President cannot vote while in the chair there will only be 750 voting members at any one time). European Parliament_sentence_167

Since 1 February 2020, (including the president of the Parliament) sit in the European Parliament, the reduction in size due to the United Kingdom leaving the EU. European Parliament_sentence_168

Representation is currently limited to a maximum of 96 seats and a minimum of 6 seats per state and the seats are distributed according to "degressive proportionality", i.e., the larger the state, the more citizens are represented per MEP. European Parliament_sentence_169

As a result, Maltese and Luxembourgish voters have roughly 10x more influence per voter than citizens of the six large countries. European Parliament_sentence_170

As of 2014, Germany (80.9 million inhabitants) has 96 seats (previously 99 seats), i.e. one seat for 843,000 inhabitants. European Parliament_sentence_171

Malta (0.4 million inhabitants) has 6 seats, i.e. one seat for 70,000 inhabitants. European Parliament_sentence_172

The new system implemented under the Lisbon Treaty, including revising the seating well before elections, was intended to avoid political horse trading when the allocations have to be revised to reflect demographic changes. European Parliament_sentence_173

Pursuant to this apportionment, the constituencies are formed. European Parliament_sentence_174

In four EU member states (Belgium, Ireland, Italy and Poland), the national territory is divided into a number of constituencies. European Parliament_sentence_175

In the remaining member states, the whole country forms a single constituency. European Parliament_sentence_176

All member states hold elections to the European Parliament using various forms of proportional representation. European Parliament_sentence_177

Transitional arrangements European Parliament_section_11

Due to the delay in ratifying the Lisbon Treaty, the seventh parliament was elected under the lower Nice Treaty cap. European Parliament_sentence_178

A small scale treaty amendment was ratified on 29 November 2011. European Parliament_sentence_179

This amendment brought in transitional provisions to allow the 18 additional MEPs created under the Lisbon Treaty to be elected or appointed before the 2014 election. European Parliament_sentence_180

Under the Lisbon Treaty reforms, Germany was the only state to lose members from 99 to 96. European Parliament_sentence_181

However, these seats were not removed until the 2014 election. European Parliament_sentence_182

Salaries and expenses European Parliament_section_12

Before 2009, members received the same salary as members of their national parliament. European Parliament_sentence_183

However, from 2009 a new members statute came into force, after years of attempts, which gave all members an equal monthly pay, of €8,484.05 each in 2016, subject to a European Union tax and which can also be taxed nationally. European Parliament_sentence_184

MEPs are entitled to a pension, paid by Parliament, from the age of 63. European Parliament_sentence_185

Members are also entitled to allowances for office costs and subsistence, and travelling expenses, based on actual cost. European Parliament_sentence_186

Besides their pay, members are granted a number of privileges and immunities. European Parliament_sentence_187

To ensure their free movement to and from the Parliament, they are accorded by their own states the facilities accorded to senior officials travelling abroad and, by other state governments, the status of visiting foreign representatives. European Parliament_sentence_188

When in their own state, they have all the immunities accorded to national parliamentarians, and, in other states, they have immunity from detention and legal proceedings. European Parliament_sentence_189

However, immunity cannot be claimed when a member is found committing a criminal offence and the Parliament also has the right to strip a member of their immunity. European Parliament_sentence_190

Political groups European Parliament_section_13

Main article: Political groups of the European Parliament European Parliament_sentence_191

MEPs in Parliament are organised into eight different parliamentary groups, including thirty non-attached members known as non-inscrits. European Parliament_sentence_192

The two largest groups are the European People's Party (EPP) and the Socialists & Democrats (S&D). European Parliament_sentence_193

These two groups have dominated the Parliament for much of its life, continuously holding between 50 and 70 percent of the seats between them. European Parliament_sentence_194

No single group has ever held a majority in Parliament. European Parliament_sentence_195

As a result of being broad alliances of national parties, European group parties are very decentralised and hence have more in common with parties in federal states like Germany or the United States than unitary states like the majority of the EU states. European Parliament_sentence_196

Nevertheless, the European groups were actually more cohesive than their US counterparts between 2004 and 2009. European Parliament_sentence_197

Groups are often based on a single European political party such as the European People's Party. European Parliament_sentence_198

However, they can, like the liberal group, include more than one European party as well as national parties and independents. European Parliament_sentence_199

For a group to be recognised, it needs 25 MEPs from seven different countries. European Parliament_sentence_200

Once recognised, groups receive financial subsidies from the parliament and guaranteed seats on committees, creating an incentive for the formation of groups. European Parliament_sentence_201

However, some controversy occurred with the establishment of the short-lived Identity, Tradition, Sovereignty (ITS) due to its ideology; the members of the group were far-right, so there were concerns about public funds going towards such a group. European Parliament_sentence_202

There were attempts to change the rules to block the formation of ITS, but they never came to fruition. European Parliament_sentence_203

The group was, however, blocked from gaining leading positions on committees – traditionally (by agreement, not a rule) shared among all parties. European Parliament_sentence_204

When this group engaged in infighting, leading to the withdrawal of some members, its size fell below the threshold for recognition causing its collapse. European Parliament_sentence_205

Grand coalition European Parliament_section_14

Given that the Parliament does not form the government in the traditional sense of a Parliamentary system, its politics have developed along more consensual lines rather than majority rule of competing parties and coalitions. European Parliament_sentence_206

Indeed, for much of its life it has been dominated by a grand coalition of the European People's Party and the Party of European Socialists. European Parliament_sentence_207

The two major parties tend to co-operate to find a compromise between their two groups leading to proposals endorsed by huge majorities. European Parliament_sentence_208

However, this does not always produce agreement, and each may instead try to build other alliances, the EPP normally with other centre-right or right wing Groups and the PES with centre-left or left wing groups. European Parliament_sentence_209

Sometimes, the Liberal Group is then in the pivotal position. European Parliament_sentence_210

There are also occasions where very sharp party political divisions have emerged, for example over the resignation of the Santer Commission. European Parliament_sentence_211

When the initial allegations against the Commission emerged, they were directed primarily against Édith Cresson and Manuel Marín, both socialist members. European Parliament_sentence_212

When the parliament was considering refusing to discharge the Community budget, President Jacques Santer stated that a no vote would be tantamount to a vote of no confidence. European Parliament_sentence_213

The Socialist group supported the Commission and saw the issue as an attempt by the EPP to discredit their party ahead of the 1999 elections. European Parliament_sentence_214

Socialist leader, Pauline Green MEP, attempted a vote of confidence and the EPP put forward counter motions. European Parliament_sentence_215

During this period the two parties took on similar roles to a government-opposition dynamic, with the Socialists supporting the executive and EPP renouncing its previous coalition support and voting it down. European Parliament_sentence_216

Politicisation such as this has been increasing, in 2007 Simon Hix of the London School of Economics noted that: European Parliament_sentence_217

During the fifth term, 1999 to 2004, there was a break in the grand coalition resulting in a centre-right coalition between the Liberal and People's parties. European Parliament_sentence_218

This was reflected in the Presidency of the Parliament with the terms being shared between the EPP and the ELDR, rather than the EPP and Socialists. European Parliament_sentence_219

In the following term the liberal group grew to hold 88 seats, the largest number of seats held by any third party in Parliament. European Parliament_sentence_220

Elections European Parliament_section_15

Main article: Elections to the European Parliament European Parliament_sentence_221

Elections have taken place, directly in every member state, every five years since 1979. European Parliament_sentence_222

As of 2019 there have been nine elections. European Parliament_sentence_223

When a nation joins mid-term, a by-election will be held to elect their representatives. European Parliament_sentence_224

This has happened six times, most recently when Croatia joined in 2013. European Parliament_sentence_225

Elections take place across four days according to local custom and, apart from having to be proportional, the electoral system is chosen by the member state. European Parliament_sentence_226

This includes allocation of sub-national constituencies; while most members have a national list, some, like the UK and Poland, divide their allocation between regions. European Parliament_sentence_227

Seats are allocated to member states according to their population, since 2014 with no state having more than 96, but no fewer than 6, to maintain proportionality. European Parliament_sentence_228

The most recent Union-wide elections to the European Parliament were the European elections of 2019, held from 23 to 26 May 2019. European Parliament_sentence_229

They were the largest simultaneous transnational elections ever held anywhere in the world. European Parliament_sentence_230

The first session of the ninth parliament started 2 July 2019. European Parliament_sentence_231

European political parties have the exclusive right to campaign during the European elections (as opposed to their corresponding EP groups). European Parliament_sentence_232

There have been a number of proposals designed to attract greater public attention to the elections. European Parliament_sentence_233

One such innovation in the 2014 elections was that the pan-European political parties fielded "candidates" for president of the Commission, the so-called Spitzenkandidaten (German, "leading candidates" or "top candidates"). European Parliament_sentence_234

However, European Union governance is based on a mixture of intergovernmental and supranational features: the President of the European Commission is nominated by the European Council, representing the governments of the member states, and there is no obligation for them to nominate the successful "candidate". European Parliament_sentence_235

The Lisbon Treaty merely states that they should take account of the results of the elections when choosing whom to nominate. European Parliament_sentence_236

The so-called Spitzenkandidaten were Jean-Claude Juncker for the European People's Party, Martin Schulz for the Party of European Socialists, Guy Verhofstadt for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party, Ska Keller and José Bové jointly for the European Green Party and Alexis Tsipras for the Party of the European Left. European Parliament_sentence_237

Turnout dropped consistently every year since the first election, and from 1999 until 2019 was below 50%. European Parliament_sentence_238

In 2007 both Bulgaria and Romania elected their MEPs in by-elections, having joined at the beginning of 2007. European Parliament_sentence_239

The Bulgarian and Romanian elections saw two of the lowest turnouts for European elections, just 28.6% and 28.3% respectively. European Parliament_sentence_240

This trend was interrupted in the 2019 election, when turnout increased by 8% EU-wide, rising to 50.6%, the highest since 1994. European Parliament_sentence_241

In England, Scotland and Wales, EP elections were originally held for a constituency MEP on a first-past-the-post basis. European Parliament_sentence_242

In 1999 the system was changed to a form of PR where a large group of candidates stand for a post within a very large regional constituency. European Parliament_sentence_243

One can vote for a party, but not a candidate (unless that party has a single candidate). European Parliament_sentence_244

Proceedings European Parliament_section_16

Each year the activities of the Parliament cycle between committee weeks where reports are discussed in committees and interparliamentary delegations meet, political group weeks for members to discuss work within their political groups and session weeks where members spend 3½ days in Strasbourg for part-sessions. European Parliament_sentence_245

In addition six 2-day part-sessions are organised in Brussels throughout the year. European Parliament_sentence_246

Four weeks are allocated as constituency week to allow members to do exclusively constituency work. European Parliament_sentence_247

Finally there are no meetings planned during the summer weeks. European Parliament_sentence_248

The Parliament has the power to meet without being convened by another authority. European Parliament_sentence_249

Its meetings are partly controlled by the treaties but are otherwise up to Parliament according to its own "Rules of Procedure" (the regulations governing the parliament). European Parliament_sentence_250

During sessions, members may speak after being called on by the President. European Parliament_sentence_251

Members of the Council or Commission may also attend and speak in debates. European Parliament_sentence_252

Partly due to the need for translation, and the politics of consensus in the chamber, debates tend to be calmer and more polite than, say, the Westminster system. European Parliament_sentence_253

Voting is conducted primarily by a show of hands, that may be checked on request by electronic voting. European Parliament_sentence_254

Votes of MEPs are not recorded in either case, however; that only occurs when there is a roll-call ballot. European Parliament_sentence_255

This is required for the final votes on legislation and also whenever a political group or 30 MEPs request it. European Parliament_sentence_256

The number of roll-call votes has increased with time. European Parliament_sentence_257

Votes can also be a completely secret ballot (for example, when the president is elected). European Parliament_sentence_258

All recorded votes, along with minutes and legislation, are recorded in the Official Journal of the European Union and can be accessed online. European Parliament_sentence_259

Votes usually do not follow a debate, but rather they are grouped with other due votes on specific occasions, usually at noon on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays. European Parliament_sentence_260

This is because the length of the vote is unpredictable and if it continues for longer than allocated it can disrupt other debates and meetings later in the day. European Parliament_sentence_261

Members are arranged in a hemicycle according to their political groups (in the Common Assembly, prior to 1958, members sat alphabetically) who are ordered mainly by left to right, but some smaller groups are placed towards the outer ring of the Parliament. European Parliament_sentence_262

All desks are equipped with microphones, headphones for translation and electronic voting equipment. European Parliament_sentence_263

The leaders of the groups sit on the front benches at the centre, and in the very centre is a podium for guest speakers. European Parliament_sentence_264

The remaining half of the circular chamber is primarily composed of the raised area where the President and staff sit. European Parliament_sentence_265

Further benches are provided between the sides of this area and the MEPs, these are taken up by the Council on the far left and the Commission on the far right. European Parliament_sentence_266

Both the Brussels and Strasbourg hemicycle roughly follow this layout with only minor differences. European Parliament_sentence_267

The hemicycle design is a compromise between the different Parliamentary systems. European Parliament_sentence_268

The British-based system has the different groups directly facing each other while the French-based system is a semicircle (and the traditional German system had all members in rows facing a rostrum for speeches). European Parliament_sentence_269

Although the design is mainly based on a semicircle, the opposite ends of the spectrum do still face each other. European Parliament_sentence_270

With access to the chamber limited, entrance is controlled by ushers who aid MEPs in the chamber (for example in delivering documents). European Parliament_sentence_271

The ushers can also occasionally act as a form of police in enforcing the President, for example in ejecting an MEP who is disrupting the session (although this is rare). European Parliament_sentence_272

The first head of protocol in the Parliament was French, so many of the duties in the Parliament are based on the French model first developed following the French Revolution. European Parliament_sentence_273

The 180 ushers are highly visible in the Parliament, dressed in black tails and wearing a silver chain, and are recruited in the same manner as the European civil service. European Parliament_sentence_274

The President is allocated a personal usher. European Parliament_sentence_275

President and organisation European Parliament_section_17

Main article: President of the European Parliament European Parliament_sentence_276

The President is essentially the speaker of the Parliament and presides over the plenary when it is in session. European Parliament_sentence_277

The President's signature is required for all acts adopted by co-decision, including the EU budget. European Parliament_sentence_278

The President is also responsible for representing the Parliament externally, including in legal matters, and for the application of the rules of procedure. European Parliament_sentence_279

He or she is elected for two-and-a-half-year terms, meaning two elections per parliamentary term. European Parliament_sentence_280

The President is currently David Sassoli (S&D). European Parliament_sentence_281

In most countries, the protocol of the head of state comes before all others; however, in the EU the Parliament is listed as the first institution, and hence the protocol of its president comes before any other European, or national, protocol. European Parliament_sentence_282

The gifts given to numerous visiting dignitaries depend upon the President. European Parliament_sentence_283

President Josep Borrell MEP of Spain gave his counterparts a crystal cup created by an artist from Barcelona who had engraved upon it parts of the Charter of Fundamental Rights among other things. European Parliament_sentence_284

A number of notable figures have been President of the Parliament and its predecessors. European Parliament_sentence_285

The first President was Paul-Henri Spaak MEP, one of the founding fathers of the Union. European Parliament_sentence_286

Other founding fathers include Alcide de Gasperi MEP and Robert Schuman MEP. European Parliament_sentence_287

The two female Presidents were Simone Veil MEP in 1979 (first President of the elected Parliament) and Nicole Fontaine MEP in 1999, both Frenchwomen. European Parliament_sentence_288

The previous president, Jerzy Buzek was the first East-Central European to lead an EU institution, a former Prime Minister of Poland who rose out of the Solidarity movement in Poland that helped overthrow communism in the Eastern Bloc. European Parliament_sentence_289

During the election of a President, the previous President (or, if unable to, one of the previous Vice-Presidents) presides over the chamber. European Parliament_sentence_290

Prior to 2009, the oldest member fulfilled this role but the rule was changed to prevent far-right French MEP Jean-Marie Le Pen taking the chair. European Parliament_sentence_291

Below the President, there are 14 Vice-Presidents who chair debates when the President is not in the chamber. European Parliament_sentence_292

There are a number of other bodies and posts responsible for the running of parliament besides these speakers. European Parliament_sentence_293

The two main bodies are the Bureau, which is responsible for budgetary and administration issues, and the Conference of Presidents which is a governing body composed of the presidents of each of the parliament's political groups. European Parliament_sentence_294

Looking after the financial and administrative interests of members are five Quaestors. European Parliament_sentence_295

As of 2014, the European Parliament budget was EUR 1.756 billion. European Parliament_sentence_296

A 2008 report on the Parliament's finances highlighted certain overspending and miss-payments. European Parliament_sentence_297

Despite some MEPs calling for the report to be published, Parliamentary authorities had refused until an MEP broke confidentiality and leaked it. European Parliament_sentence_298

Committees and delegations European Parliament_section_18

Main article: Committees of the European Parliament European Parliament_sentence_299

The Parliament has 20 Standing Committees consisting of 25 to 73 MEPs each (reflecting the political make-up of the whole Parliament) including a chair, a bureau and secretariat. European Parliament_sentence_300

They meet twice a month in public to draw up, amend to adopt legislative proposals and reports to be presented to the plenary. European Parliament_sentence_301

The rapporteurs for a committee are supposed to present the view of the committee, although notably this has not always been the case. European Parliament_sentence_302

In the events leading to the resignation of the Santer Commission, the rapporteur went against the Budgetary Control Committee's narrow vote to discharge the budget, and urged the Parliament to reject it. European Parliament_sentence_303

Committees can also set up sub-committees (e.g. the Subcommittee on Human Rights) and temporary committees to deal with a specific topic (e.g. on extraordinary rendition). European Parliament_sentence_304

The chairs of the Committees co-ordinate their work through the "Conference of Committee Chairmen". European Parliament_sentence_305

When co-decision was introduced it increased the Parliament's powers in a number of areas, but most notably those covered by the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety. European Parliament_sentence_306

Previously this committee was considered by MEPs as a "Cinderella committee"; however, as it gained a new importance, it became more professional and rigorous, attracting increasing attention to its work. European Parliament_sentence_307

The nature of the committees differ from their national counterparts as, although smaller in comparison to those of the United States Congress, the European Parliament's committees are unusually large by European standards with between eight and twelve dedicated members of staff and three to four support staff. European Parliament_sentence_308

Considerable administration, archives and research resources are also at the disposal of the whole Parliament when needed. European Parliament_sentence_309

Delegations of the Parliament are formed in a similar manner and are responsible for relations with Parliaments outside the EU. European Parliament_sentence_310

There are 34 delegations made up of around 15 MEPs, chairpersons of the delegations also cooperate in a conference like the committee chairs do. European Parliament_sentence_311

They include "Interparliamentary delegations" (maintain relations with Parliament outside the EU), "joint parliamentary committees" (maintaining relations with parliaments of states which are candidates or associates of the EU), the delegation to the ACP EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly and the delegation to the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly. European Parliament_sentence_312

MEPs also participate in other international activities such as the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly, the Transatlantic Legislators' Dialogue and through election observation in third countries. European Parliament_sentence_313

Intergroups European Parliament_section_19

The Intergroups in the European Parliament are informal fora which gather MEPs from various political groups around any topic. European Parliament_sentence_314

They do not express the view of the European Parliament. European Parliament_sentence_315

They serve a double purpose: to address a topic which is transversal to several committees and in a less formal manner. European Parliament_sentence_316

Their daily secretariat can be run either through the office of MEPs or through interest groups, be them corporate lobbies or NGOs. European Parliament_sentence_317

The favored access to MEPs which the organization running the secretariat enjoys can be one explanation to the multiplication of Intergroups in the 1990s. European Parliament_sentence_318

They are now strictly regulated and financial support, direct or otherwise (via Secretariat staff, for example) must be officially specified in a declaration of financial interests. European Parliament_sentence_319

Also Intergroups are established or renewed at the beginning of each legislature through a specific process. European Parliament_sentence_320

Indeed, the proposal for the constitution or renewal of an Intergroup must be supported by at least 3 political groups whose support is limited to a specific number of proposals in proportion to their size (for example, for the legislature 2014-2019, the EPP or S&D political groups could support 22 proposals whereas the Greens/EFA or the EFDD political groups only 7). European Parliament_sentence_321

Translation and interpretation European Parliament_section_20

See also: Languages of the European Union European Parliament_sentence_322

Speakers in the European Parliament are entitled to speak in any of the 24 official languages of the European Union, ranging from French and German to Maltese and Irish. European Parliament_sentence_323

Simultaneous interpreting is offered in all plenary sessions, and all final texts of legislation are translated. European Parliament_sentence_324

With twenty-four languages, the European Parliament is the most multilingual parliament in the world and the biggest employer of interpreters in the world (employing 350 full-time and 400 free-lancers when there is higher demand). European Parliament_sentence_325

Citizens may also address the Parliament in Basque, Catalan/Valencian and Galician. European Parliament_sentence_326

Usually a language is translated from a foreign tongue into a translator's native tongue. European Parliament_sentence_327

Due to the large number of languages, some being minor ones, since 1995 interpreting is sometimes done the opposite way, out of an interpreter's native tongue (the "retour" system). European Parliament_sentence_328

In addition, a speech in a minor language may be interpreted through a third language for lack of interpreters ("relay" interpreting) – for example, when interpreting out of Estonian into Maltese. European Parliament_sentence_329

Due to the complexity of the issues, interpretation is not word for word. European Parliament_sentence_330

Instead, interpreters have to convey the political meaning of a speech, regardless of their own views. European Parliament_sentence_331

This requires detailed understanding of the politics and terms of the Parliament, involving a great deal of preparation beforehand (e.g. reading the documents in question). European Parliament_sentence_332

Difficulty can often arise when MEPs use profanities, jokes and word play or speak too fast. European Parliament_sentence_333

While some see speaking their native language as an important part of their identity, and can speak more fluently in debates, interpretation and its cost has been criticised by some. European Parliament_sentence_334

A 2006 report by Alexander Stubb MEP highlighted that by only using English, French and German costs could be reduced from 118,000 per day (for 21 languages then – Romanian, Bulgarian and Croatian having not yet been included) to €8,900 per day. European Parliament_sentence_335

There has also been a small-scale campaign to make French the reference language for all legal texts, on the basis of an argument that it is more clear and precise for legal purposes. European Parliament_sentence_336

Because the proceedings are translated into all of the official EU languages, they have been used to make a multilingual corpus known as Europarl. European Parliament_sentence_337

It is widely used to train statistical machine translation systems. European Parliament_sentence_338

Annual costs European Parliament_section_21

According to the European Parliament website, the annual parliament budget for 2016 was €1.838 billion. European Parliament_sentence_339

The main cost categories were: European Parliament_sentence_340

European Parliament_unordered_list_0

  • 34% – staff, interpretation and translation costsEuropean Parliament_item_0_0
  • 24% – information policy, IT, telecommunicationsEuropean Parliament_item_0_1
  • 23% – MEPs' salaries, expenses, travel, offices and staffEuropean Parliament_item_0_2
  • 13% – buildingsEuropean Parliament_item_0_3
  • 6% – political group activitiesEuropean Parliament_item_0_4

According to a European Parliament study prepared in 2013, the Strasbourg seat costs an extra €103 million over maintaining a single location and according to the Court of Auditors an additional €5 million is related to travel expenses caused by having two seats. European Parliament_sentence_341

As a comparison, the German lower house of parliament (Bundestag) is estimated to cost €517 million in total for 2018, for a parliament with 709 members. European Parliament_sentence_342

The British House of Commons reported total annual costs in 2016-2017 of £249 million (€279 million). European Parliament_sentence_343

It had 650 seats. European Parliament_sentence_344

According to The Economist, the European Parliament costs more than the British, French and German parliaments combined. European Parliament_sentence_345

A quarter of the costs is estimated to be related to translation and interpretation costs (c. €460 million) and the double seats are estimated to add an additional €180 million a year. European Parliament_sentence_346

For a like-for-like comparison, these two cost blocks can be excluded. European Parliament_sentence_347

On 2 July 2018, MEPs rejected proposals to tighten the rules around the General Expenditure Allowance (GEA), which "is a controversial €4,416 per month payment that MEPs are given to cover office and other expenses, but they are not required to provide any evidence of how the money is spent". European Parliament_sentence_348

Seat European Parliament_section_22

Further information: Location of European Union institutions, Espace Léopold, and Seat of the European Parliament in Strasbourg European Parliament_sentence_349

The Parliament is based in three different cities with numerous buildings. European Parliament_sentence_350

A protocol attached to the Treaty of Amsterdam requires that 12 plenary sessions be held in Strasbourg (none in August but two in September), which is the Parliament's official seat, while extra part sessions as well as committee meetings are held in Brussels. European Parliament_sentence_351

Luxembourg City hosts the Secretariat of the European Parliament. European Parliament_sentence_352

The European Parliament is one of at least two assemblies in the world with more than one meeting place (another being the parliament of the Isle of Man, Tynwald) and one of the few that does not have the power to decide its own location. European Parliament_sentence_353

The Strasbourg seat is seen as a symbol of reconciliation between France and Germany, the Strasbourg region having been fought over by the two countries in the past. European Parliament_sentence_354

However, the cost and inconvenience of having two seats is questioned. European Parliament_sentence_355

While Strasbourg is the official seat, and sits alongside the Council of Europe, Brussels is home to nearly all other major EU institutions, with the majority of Parliament's work being carried out there. European Parliament_sentence_356

Critics have described the two-seat arrangement as a "travelling circus", and there is a strong movement to establish Brussels as the sole seat. European Parliament_sentence_357

This is because the other political institutions (the Commission, Council and European Council) are located there, and hence Brussels is treated as the 'capital' of the EU. European Parliament_sentence_358

This movement has received strong backing from numerous figures, including Margot Wallström, Commission First-Vice President from 2004 to 2010, who stated that "something that was once a very positive symbol of the EU reuniting France and Germany has now become a negative symbol – of wasting money, bureaucracy and the insanity of the Brussels institutions". European Parliament_sentence_359

The Green Party has also noted the environmental cost in a study led by Jean Lambert MEP and Caroline Lucas MEP; in addition to the extra 200 million euro spent on the extra seat, there are over 20,268 tonnes of additional carbon dioxide, undermining any environmental stance of the institution and the Union. European Parliament_sentence_360

The campaign is further backed by a million-strong online petition started by Cecilia Malmström MEP. European Parliament_sentence_361

In August 2014, an assessment by the European Court of Auditors calculated that relocating the Strasbourg seat of the European Parliament to Brussels would save €113.8 million per year. European Parliament_sentence_362

In 2006, there were allegations of irregularities in the charges made by the city of Strasbourg on buildings the Parliament rented, thus further harming the case for the Strasbourg seat. European Parliament_sentence_363

Most MEPs prefer Brussels as a single base. European Parliament_sentence_364

A poll of MEPs found 89% of the respondents wanting a single seat, and 81% preferring Brussels. European Parliament_sentence_365

Another, more academic, survey found 68% support. European Parliament_sentence_366

In July 2011, an absolute majority of MEPs voted in favour of a single seat. European Parliament_sentence_367

In early 2011, the Parliament voted to scrap one of the Strasbourg sessions by holding two within a single week. European Parliament_sentence_368

The mayor of Strasbourg officially reacted by stating "we will counter-attack by upturning the adversary's strength to our own profit, as a judoka would do". European Parliament_sentence_369

However, as Parliament's seat is now fixed by the treaties, it can only be changed by the Council acting unanimously, meaning that France could veto any move. European Parliament_sentence_370

The former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has stated that the Strasbourg seat is "non-negotiable", and that France has no intention of surrendering the only EU Institution on French soil. European Parliament_sentence_371

Given France's declared intention to veto any relocation to Brussels, some MEPs have advocated civil disobedience by refusing to take part in the monthly exodus to Strasbourg. European Parliament_sentence_372

Channels of dialogue, information, and communication with European civil society European Parliament_section_23

Over the last few years, European institutions have committed to promoting transparency, openness, and the availability of information about their work. European Parliament_sentence_373

In particular, transparency is regarded as pivotal to the action of European institutions and a general principle of EU law, to be applied to the activities of EU institutions in order to strengthen the Union's democratic foundation. European Parliament_sentence_374

The general principles of openness and transparency are reaffirmed in the articles 8 A, point 3 and 10.3 of the Treaty of Lisbon and the Maastricht Treaty respectively, stating that "every citizen shall have the right to participate in the democratic life of the Union. European Parliament_sentence_375

Decisions shall be taken as openly and as closely as possible to the citizen". European Parliament_sentence_376

Furthermore, both treaties acknowledge the value of dialogue between citizens, representative associations, civil society, and European institutions. European Parliament_sentence_377

Dialogue with religious and non-confessional organisations European Parliament_section_24

Article 17 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) lays the juridical foundation for an open, transparent dialogue between European institutions and churches, religious associations, and non-confessional and philosophical organisations. European Parliament_sentence_378

In July 2014, in the beginning of the 8th term, then President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz tasked Antonio Tajani, then Vice-President, with implementing the dialogue with the religious and confessional organisations included in article 17. European Parliament_sentence_379

In this framework, the European Parliament hosts high-level conferences on inter-religious dialogue, also with focus on current issues and in relation with parliamentary works. European Parliament_sentence_380

European Parliament Mediator for International Parental Child Abduction European Parliament_section_25

The chair of European Parliament Mediator for International Parental Child Abduction was established in 1987 by initiative of British MEP Charles Henry Plumb, with the goal of helping minor children of international couples victim of parental abduction. European Parliament_sentence_381

The Mediator finds negotiated solutions in the higher interest of the minor when said minor is abducted by a parent following separation of the couple, regardless whether married or unmarried. European Parliament_sentence_382

Since its institution, the chair has been held by Mairead McGuinness (since 2014), Roberta Angelilli (2009–2014), Evelyne Gebhardt (2004–2009), Mary Banotti (1995–2004), and Marie-Claude Vayssade (1987–1994). European Parliament_sentence_383

The Mediator's main task is to assist parents in finding a solution in the minor's best interest through mediation, i.e. a form of controversy resolution alternative to lawsuit. European Parliament_sentence_384

The Mediator is activated by request of a citizen and, after evaluating the request, starts a mediation process aimed at reaching an agreement. European Parliament_sentence_385

Once subscribed by both parties and the Mediator, the agreement is official. European Parliament_sentence_386

The nature of the agreement is that of a private contract between parties. European Parliament_sentence_387

In defining the agreement, the European Parliament offers the parties the juridical support necessary to reach a sound, lawful agreement based on legality and equity. European Parliament_sentence_388

The agreement can be ratified by the competent national courts and can also lay the foundation for consensual separation or divorce. European Parliament_sentence_389

European Parliamentary Research Service European Parliament_section_26

The European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) is the European Parliament's in-house research department and think tank. European Parliament_sentence_390

It provides Members of the European Parliament – and, where appropriate, parliamentary committees – with independent, objective and authoritative analysis of, and research on, policy issues relating to the European Union, in order to assist them in their parliamentary work. European Parliament_sentence_391

It is also designed to increase Members' and EP committees' capacity to scrutinise and oversee the European Commission and other EU executive bodies. European Parliament_sentence_392

EPRS aims to provide a comprehensive range of products and services, backed by specialist internal expertise and knowledge sources in all policy fields, so empowering Members and committees through knowledge and contributing to the Parliament's effectiveness and influence as an institution. European Parliament_sentence_393

In undertaking this work, the EPRS supports and promotes parliamentary outreach to the wider public, including dialogue with relevant stakeholders in the EU’s system of multi-level governance. European Parliament_sentence_394

All publications by EPRS are publicly available on the EP Think Tank platform. European Parliament_sentence_395

Eurobarometer of the European Parliament European Parliament_section_27

The European Parliament periodically commissions opinion polls and studies on public opinion trends in Member States to survey perceptions and expectations of citizens about its work and the overall activities of the European Union. European Parliament_sentence_396

Topics include citizens' perception of the European Parliament's role, their knowledge of the institution, their sense of belonging in the European Union, opinions on European elections and European integration, identity, citizenship, political values, but also on current issues such as climate change, current economy and politics, etc.. Eurobarometer analyses seek to provide an overall picture of national situations, regional specificities, socio-demographic cleavages, and historical trends. European Parliament_sentence_397

Prizes European Parliament_section_28

Sakharov Prize European Parliament_section_29

With the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, created in 1998, the European Parliament supports human rights by awarding individuals that contribute to promoting human rights worldwide, thus raising awareness on human rights violations. European Parliament_sentence_398

Priorities include: protection of human rights and fundamental liberties, with particular focus on freedom of expression; protection of minority rights; compliance with international law; and development of democracy and authentic rule of law. European Parliament_sentence_399

European Charlemagne Youth Prize European Parliament_section_30

The European Charlemagne Youth Prize seeks to encourage youth participation in the European integration process. European Parliament_sentence_400

It is awarded by the European Parliament and the Foundation of the International Charlemagne Prize of Aachen to youth projects aimed at nurturing common European identity and European citizenship. European Parliament_sentence_401

European Citizens' Prize European Parliament_section_31

The European Citizens' Prize is awarded by the European Parliament to activities and actions carried out by citizens and associations to promote integration between the citizens of EU member states and transnational cooperation projects in the EU. European Parliament_sentence_402

LUX Prize European Parliament_section_32

Since 2007, the LUX Prize is awarded by the European Parliament to films dealing with current topics of public European interest that encourage reflection on Europe and its future. European Parliament_sentence_403

Over time, the Lux Prize has become a prestigious cinema award which supports European film and production also outside the EU. European Parliament_sentence_404

Daphne Caruana Galizia Journalism Prize European Parliament_section_33

From 2021, the Daphne Caruana Galizia Journalism prize shall be awarded by the European Parliament to outstanding journalism that reflect EU values. European Parliament_sentence_405

The prize consists in an award of 20,000 euros and the very first winner will be revealed in October 2021. European Parliament_sentence_406

This award is named after the late Maltese journalist, Daphne Caruana Galizia who was assassinated in Malta on 16 October 2017. European Parliament_sentence_407

See also European Parliament_section_34

European Parliament_unordered_list_1


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European Parliament.