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European Parliament
The European Parliament (EP) is the directly elected parliamentary institution of the European Union (EU). Together with the Council of the European Union

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For the statutory organ of the Council of Europe, see Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. For recent elections, see European Parliament election, 2014.

European Parliament 8th European Parliament LeadershipPresident Antonio Tajani, EPP
Since 17 January 2017 Vice Presidents 14
Since 18 January 2017 Leader of largest
political group Manfred Weber, EPP
Since 4 June 2014 Leader of the 2nd largest political group Udo Bullmann, S&D
Since 20 March 2018 StructureSeats 751 MEPs Political groups

Commission[citation needed] (476)

  •      EPP (219)
  •      S&D (189)
  •      ALDE (68)

Opposition[citation needed] (275)

  •      ECR (73)
  •      Greens-EFA (52)
  •      GUE-NGL (51)
  •      EFDD (43)
  •      ENF (35)
  •      Non-Inscrits (21)
Committees 22 Length of term 5 yearsElectionsVoting system Party list, STV and First-past-the-post[1]Last election 22–25 May 2014Next election 2019Meeting place 1st: Louise Weiss: Strasbourg, France (image)
2nd: Espace Léopold: Brussels, Belgium
Secretariat: Luxembourg & BrusselsWebsite europarl.europa.eu European Union This article is part of a series on the
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Building of the European Parliament in Brussels "European Parliament" in official languages of the European Union (on the Parliament building in Brussels)

The European Parliament (EP) is the directly elected parliamentary institution of the European Union (EU). Together with the Council of the European Union (the Council) and the European Commission, it exercises the legislative function of the EU. The Parliament is composed of 751 members, who represent 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).[2][3][4]

It has been directly elected every five years by universal suffrage since 1979. However, voter turnout at European Parliament elections has fallen consecutively at each election since that date, and has been under 50% since 1999. Voter turnout in 2014 stood at 42.54% of all European voters.[5]

Although the European Parliament has legislative power that the Council and Commission do not possess, it does not formally possess legislative initiative, as most national parliaments of European Union member states do.[6][7] The Parliament is the "first institution" of the EU (mentioned first in the treaties, having ceremonial precedence over all authority at European level),[8] and shares equal legislative and budgetary powers with the Council (except in a few areas where the special legislative procedures apply). It likewise has equal control over the EU budget. Finally, the European Commission, the executive body of the EU, is accountable to Parliament. In particular, Parliament elects the President of the Commission, and approves (or rejects) the appointment of the Commission as a whole. It can subsequently force the Commission as a body to resign by adopting a motion of censure.[6]

The President of the European Parliament (Parliament's speaker) is Antonio Tajani (EPP), elected in January 2017. He presides over a multi-party chamber, the two largest groups being the Group of the European People's Party (EPP) and the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D). The last union-wide elections were the 2014 elections.

The European Parliament has three places of work – Brussels (Belgium), the city of Luxembourg (Luxembourg) and Strasbourg (France). Luxembourg is home to the administrative offices (the "General Secretariat"). Meetings of the whole Parliament ("plenary sessions") take place in Strasbourg and in Brussels. Committee meetings are held in Brussels.[9][10]

Contents
  • 1 History
    • 1.1 Consultative assembly
    • 1.2 Elected Parliament
    • 1.3 Parliament pressure on the Commission
    • 1.4 Recent history
  • 2 Powers and functions
    • 2.1 Legislative procedure
    • 2.2 Budget
    • 2.3 Control of the executive
    • 2.4 Supervisory powers
  • 3 Members
    • 3.1 Transitional arrangements
    • 3.2 Salaries and expenses
    • 3.3 Political groups
    • 3.4 Grand coalition
    • 3.5 Elections
  • 4 Proceedings
    • 4.1 President and organisation
    • 4.2 Committees and delegations
    • 4.3 Intergroups
    • 4.4 Translation and interpretation
  • 5 Annual costs
  • 6 Seat
  • 7 Channels of dialogue, information, and communication with European civil society
    • 7.1 Dialogue with religious and non-confessional organisations
    • 7.2 European Parliament Mediator for International Parental Child Abduction
  • 8 European Parliamentary Research Service
  • 9 Eurobarometer of the European Parliament
  • 10 Prizes
    • 10.1 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought
    • 10.2 European Charlemagne Youth Prize
    • 10.3 European Citizens' Prize
    • 10.4 LUX Prize
  • 11 See also
  • 12 References
  • 13 Further reading
  • 14 External links
History Further information: History of the European Union

The Parliament, like the other institutions, was not designed in its current form when it first met on 10 September 1952. One of the oldest common institutions, it began as the Common Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). It was a consultative assembly of 78 appointed parliamentarians drawn from the national parliaments of member states, having no legislative powers.[11][12] 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'."[13]

Its development since its foundation shows how the European Union's structures have evolved without a clear "master plan". 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".[14] Even the Parliament's two seats, which have switched several times, are a result of various agreements or lack of agreements. 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.[11][15]

Consultative assembly

The body was not mentioned in the original Schuman Declaration. It was assumed or hoped that difficulties with the British would be resolved to allow the Council of Europe's Assembly to perform the task. A separate Assembly was introduced during negotiations on the Treaty as an institution which would counterbalance and monitor the executive while providing democratic legitimacy.[11] 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. Its early importance was highlighted when the Assembly was given the task of drawing up the draft treaty to establish a European Political Community. By this document, the Ad Hoc Assembly was established on 13 September 1952[16] with extra members, but after the failure of the proposed European Defence Community the project was dropped.[17]

Session of the Council of Europe's Assembly in the former House of Europe in Strasbourg in January 1967. Willy Brandt, West German minister for Foreign Affairs, is speaking.

Despite this, the European Economic Community and Euratom were established in 1958 by the Treaties of Rome. The Common Assembly was shared by all three communities (which had separate executives) and it renamed itself the European Parliamentary Assembly.[11] The first meeting was held on 19 March 1958 having been set up in Luxembourg, it elected Schuman as its president and on 13 May it rearranged itself to sit according to political ideology rather than nationality.[18] 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.[19]

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.[11] In 1970 the Parliament was granted power over areas of the Communities' budget, which were expanded to the whole budget in 1975.[20] Under the Rome Treaties, the Parliament should have become elected. However, the Council was required to agree a uniform voting system beforehand, which it failed to do. 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 till a later date.[21]

Elected Parliament The emblem of Parliament until 1983 Session April 1985

In 1979, its members were directly elected for the first time. 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.[11][22][23] After that first election, the parliament held its first session on 11 July 1979, electing Simone Veil MEP as its president. Veil was also the first female president of the Parliament since it was formed as the Common Assembly.

As an elected body, the Parliament began to draft proposals addressing the functioning of the EU. 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). Although it was not adopted, many ideas were later implemented by other treaties.[24] Furthermore, the Parliament began holding votes on proposed Commission Presidents from the 1980s, before it was given any formal right to veto.[25]

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). Following this, the Treaty of Nice imposed a cap on the number of members to be elected, 732.[11]

Palace of Europe, Parliament's Strasbourg hemicycle until 1999 European Parliament Building in Strasbourg, France, view from street.

Like the other institutions, the Parliament's seat was not yet fixed. The provisional arrangements placed Parliament in Strasbourg, while the Commission and Council had their seats in Brussels. 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. A final agreement was eventually reached by the European Council in 1992. 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. This two-seat arrangement was contested by the Parliament, but was later enshrined in the Treaty of Amsterdam. To this day the institution's locations are a source of contention.[26]

The Parliament gained more powers from successive treaties, namely through the extension of the ordinary legislative procedure (then called the codecision procedure),[27] and in 1999, the Parliament forced the resignation of the Santer Commission.[28] The Parliament had refused to approve the Community budget over allegations of fraud and mis-management in the Commission. 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.[29]

Parliament pressure on the Commission In 2004, Parliament forced President Barroso to change his proposed Commission team.

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. 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. 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. A number of other Commissioners also had to be withdrawn or reassigned before Parliament allowed the Barroso Commission to take office.[30][31]

Rocco Buttiglione was the first Commission designate to be voted down by Parliament

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. 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. The Financial Times described it in the following terms:[32]

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That is where the European parliament has suddenly come into its own. It marks another shift in power between the three central EU institutions. Last week's vote suggests that the directly elected MEPs, in spite of their multitude of ideological, national and historical allegiances, have started to coalesce as a serious and effective EU institution, just as enlargement has greatly complicated negotiations inside both the Council and Commission.

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. 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.[33] 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.[34][35]

Recent history Further information: Barroso Commission Parliament's overhaul of the Bolkestein directive signalled a major growth in status for Parliament

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.[36] 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.[37]

Barroso gained the support of the European Council for a second term and secured majority support from the Parliament in September 2009. 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.[38] 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).[39]

Once Barroso put forward the candidates for his next Commission, another opportunity to gain concessions arose. Bulgarian nominee Rumiana Jeleva was forced to step down by Parliament due to concerns over her experience and financial interests. 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).[40]

Before the final vote, Parliament demanded a number of concessions as part of a future working agreement under the new Lisbon Treaty. The deal includes that Parliament's President will attend high level Commission meetings. Parliament will have a seat in the EU's Commission-lead international negotiations and have a right to information on agreements. However, Parliament secured only an observer seat. Parliament also did not secure a say over the appointment of delegation heads and special representatives for foreign policy. Although they will appear before parliament after they have been appointed by the High Representative. One major internal power was that Parliament wanted a pledge from the Commission that it would put forward legislation when parliament requests. Barroso considered this an infringement on the Commission's powers but did agree to respond within three months. Most requests are already responded to positively.[41]

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. MEPs had aimed at getting greater oversight over the EEAS by linking it to the Commission and having political deputies to the High Representative. MEPs didn't manage to get everything they demanded. However, they got broader financial control over the new body.[42][43]

Powers and functions The Parliament's hemicycle (debating chamber) during a plenary session in Strasbourg.

The Parliament and Council have been compared to the two chambers of a bicameral legislature.[44] 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). In Community matters, this is a power uniquely reserved for the European Commission (the executive). 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.[45] 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.[46] 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.[7]

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. There is also an indirect effect on foreign policy; the Parliament must approve all development grants, including those overseas. For example, the support for post-war Iraq reconstruction, or incentives for the cessation of Iranian nuclear development, must be supported by the Parliament. Parliamentary support was also required for the transatlantic passenger data-sharing deal with the United States.[47] Finally, Parliament holds a non-binding vote on new EU treaties but cannot veto it. 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.[48]

Legislative procedure

With each new treaty, the powers of the Parliament, in terms of its role in the Union's legislative procedures, have expanded. 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. 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. 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". 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. If the Council does not approve these, then a "Conciliation Committee" is formed. The Committee is composed of the Council members plus an equal number of MEPs who seek to agree a compromise. Once a position is agreed, it has to be approved by Parliament, by a simple majority.[6][49] 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.[32]

The few other areas that operate the special legislative procedures are justice & home affairs, budget and taxation and certain aspects of other policy areas: such as the fiscal aspects of environmental policy. In these areas, the Council or Parliament decide law alone.[50] The procedure also depends upon which type of institutional act is being used.[6] The strongest act is a regulation, an act or law which is directly applicable in its entirety. Then there are directives which bind member states to certain goals which they must achieve. They do this through their own laws and hence have room to manoeuvre in deciding upon them. A decision is an instrument which is focused at a particular person or group and is directly applicable. Institutions may also issue recommendations and opinions which are merely non-binding, declarations.[51] 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. 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. 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.[52]

Budget

The legislative branch officially holds the Union's budgetary authority with powers gained through the Budgetary Treaties of the 1970s and the Lisbon Treaty. 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. If there is a disagreement between them, it is taken to a conciliation committee as it is for legislative proposals. If the joint conciliation text is not approved, the Parliament may adopt the budget definitively.[50]

The Parliament is also responsible for discharging the implementation of previous budgets based on the annual report of the European Court of Auditors. It has refused to approve the budget only twice, in 1984 and in 1998. 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.[21][29][53] 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.[42]

Control of the executive

The President of the European Commission is proposed by the European Council on the basis of the European elections to Parliament.[36] That proposal has to be approved by the Parliament (by a simple majority) who "elect" the President according to the treaties. Following the approval of the Commission President, the members of the Commission are proposed by the President in accord with the member states. Each Commissioner comes before a relevant parliamentary committee hearing covering the proposed portfolio. They are then, as a body, approved or rejected by the Parliament.[54][55]

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. The resulting pressure forced the proposal to be withdrawn and changed to be more acceptable to parliament.[30] 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. 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. 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.[56]

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. As with approval, this power has never been used but it was threatened to the Santer Commission, who subsequently resigned of their own accord. 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).[25][55] 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.[57]

Supervisory powers

The Parliament also has other powers of general supervision, mainly granted by the Maastricht Treaty.[58] 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. The Parliament can call other institutions to answer questions and if necessary to take them to court if they break EU law or treaties.[59] Furthermore, it has powers over the appointment of the members of the Court of Auditors[60] and the president and executive board of the European Central Bank. The ECB president is also obliged to present an annual report to the parliament.[59]

The European Ombudsman is elected by the Parliament, who deals with public complaints against all institutions.[59] Petitions can also be brought forward by any EU citizen on a matter within the EU's sphere of activities. The Committee on Petitions hears cases, some 1500 each year, sometimes presented by the citizen themselves at the Parliament. 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.[61]

Members National apportionment of MEP seats (total 751)  Germany 96 (12.8%)  France 74 (9.9%)  Italy 73 (9.7%)  United Kingdom 73 (9.7%)  Spain 54 (7.2%)  Poland 51 (6.8%)  Romania 32 (4.3%)  Netherlands 26 (3.5%)  Belgium 21 (2.8%)  Czech Republic 21 (2.8%)  Greece 21 (2.8%)  Hungary 21 (2.8%)  Portugal 21 (2.8%)  Sweden 20 (2.7%)  Austria 18 (2.4%)  Bulgaria 17 (2.3%)  Denmark 13 (1.7%)  Finland 13 (1.7%)  Slovakia 13 (1.7%)  Croatia 11 (1.5%)  Ireland 11 (1.5%)  Lithuania 11 (1.5%)  Latvia 8 (1.1%)  Slovenia 8 (1.1%)  Cyprus 6 (0.8%)  Estonia 6 (0.8%)  Luxembourg 6 (0.8%)  Malta 6 (0.8%) Main article: Member of the European Parliament

The parliamentarians are known in English as Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). They are elected every five years by universal adult suffrage and sit according to political allegiance; about a third are women. Before 1979 they were appointed by their national parliaments.[17][62]

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).[63]

The seats are distributed according to "degressive proportionality", i.e., the larger the state, the more citizens are represented per MEP. As a result, Maltese and Luxembourgish voters have roughly 10x more influence per voter than citizens of the six large countries.

As of 2014[update], Germany (80.9 million inhabitants) has 96 seats (previously 99 seats), i.e. one seat for 843,000 inhabitants. Malta (0.4 million inhabitants) has 6 seats, i.e. one seat for 70,000 inhabitants.

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.[64]

Pursuant to this apportionment, the constituencies are formed. In six EU member states (Belgium, France, Ireland, Italy, Poland, and the United Kingdom), the national territory is divided into a number of constituencies. In the remaining member states, the whole country forms a single constituency. All member states hold elections to the European Parliament using various forms of proportional representation.

Transitional arrangements

Due to the delay in ratifying the Lisbon Treaty, the seventh parliament was elected under the lower Nice Treaty cap. A small scale treaty amendment was ratified on 29 November 2011.[65] 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.[66] Under the Lisbon Treaty reforms, Germany was the only state to lose members from 99 to 96. However, these seats were not removed until the 2014 election.[67]

Salaries and expenses

Before 2009, members received the same salary as members of their national parliament. However, from 2009 a new members statute came into force, after years of attempts, which gave all members an equal monthly pay, of €8,020.53 each in 2014, subject to a European Union tax and which can also be taxed nationally. MEPs are entitled to a pension, paid by Parliament, from the age of 63. Members are also entitled to allowances for office costs and subsistence, and travelling expenses, based on actual cost.[68][needs update] Besides their pay, members are granted a number of privileges and immunities. 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. 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. 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.[69]

Political groups Main article: Political groups of the European Parliament

MEPs in Parliament are organised into seven different parliamentary groups, including thirty non-attached members known as non-inscrits. The two largest groups are the European People's Party (EPP) and the Socialists & Democrats (S&D). These two groups have dominated the Parliament for much of its life, continuously holding between 50 and 70 percent of the seats between them. No single group has ever held a majority in Parliament.[70] 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.[46] Nevertheless, the European groups were actually more cohesive than their US counterparts between 2004 and 2009.[71][72]

Groups are often based on a single European political party such as the socialist group (before 2009). However, they can, like the liberal group, include more than one European party as well as national parties and independents.[73] For a group to be recognised, it needs 25 MEPs from seven different countries.[74] Once recognised, groups receive financial subsidies from the parliament and guaranteed seats on committees, creating an incentive for the formation of groups. 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.[75] There were attempts to change the rules to block the formation of ITS, but they never came to fruition. The group was, however, blocked from gaining leading positions on committees — traditionally (by agreement, not a rule) shared among all parties.[76] When this group engaged in infighting, leading to the withdrawal of some members, its size fell below the threshold for recognition causing its collapse.[77]

Grand coalition

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. 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. The two major parties tend to co-operate to find a compromise between their two groups leading to proposals endorsed by huge majorities.[78] 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. Sometimes, the Liberal Group is then in the pivotal position. There are also occasions where very sharp party political divisions have emerged, for example over the resignation of the Santer Commission.[29]

When the initial allegations against the Commission emerged, they were directed primarily against Édith Cresson and Manuel Marín, both socialist members. 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. 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. Socialist leader, Pauline Green MEP, attempted a vote of confidence and the EPP put forward counter motions. 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.[29] Politicisation such as this has been increasing, in 2007 Simon Hix of the London School of Economics noted that:[13]

Our work also shows that politics in the European Parliament is becoming increasingly based around party and ideology. Voting is increasingly split along left-right lines, and the cohesion of the party groups has risen dramatically, particularly in the fourth and fifth parliaments. So there are likely to be policy implications here too.

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.[79] 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.[80] In the following term the liberal group grew to hold 88 seats, the largest number of seats held by any third party in Parliament.[81]

Elections Main article: Elections to the European Parliament The composition of the European Parliament with regard to percental share of deputies for each political group, 1979 to 2014. Left to right;
  Radical left   Socialists   Greens and regionalists   Greens   CDI or TGI   Non-Inscrits   Liberals   Radical Alliance   CD/EPP   Forza Europa   Conservatives   Eurosceptics   UEN   Far-right

Elections have taken place, directly in every member state, every five years since 1979. As of 2014[update] there have been eight elections. When a nation joins mid-term, a by-election will be held to elect their representatives. This has happened six times, most recently when Croatia joined in 2013. 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.[82] This includes allocation of sub-national constituencies; while most members have a national list, some, like the UK and France, divide their allocation between regions. 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.[83]

The most recent Union-wide elections to the European Parliament were the European elections of 2014, held from 22 to 25 May 2014. They were the largest simultaneous transnational elections ever held anywhere in the world. The eighth term of Parliament started on 1 July 2014.[84]

The proportion of MEPs elected in 2009 who were female was 35%; in 1979 it was just 16.5%.

There have been a number of proposals designed to attract greater public attention to the elections. 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"). 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". The Lisbon Treaty merely states that they should take account of the results of the elections when choosing whom to nominate. 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.

Turnout has dropped consistently every year since the first election, and from 1999 it has been below 50%. In 2007 both Bulgaria and Romania elected their MEPs in by-elections, having joined at the beginning of 2007. The Bulgarian and Romanian elections saw two of the lowest turnouts for European elections, just 28.6%[85] and 28.3% respectively.[86]

In England, Scotland and Wales, EP elections were originally held for a constituency MEP on a first-past-the-post basis. In 1999 the system was changed to a form of PR where a large group of candidates would stand for a post within a very large regional constituency.[87] One could vote for a party, but not a candidate (unless that party had a single candidate).

Proceedings The hemicycle in Brussels.

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. In addition six 2-day part-sessions are organised in Brussels throughout the year. Four weeks are allocated as constituency week to allow members to do exclusively constituency work. Finally there are no meetings planned during the summer weeks.[88] The Parliament has the power to meet without being convened by another authority. 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).[89]

During sessions, members may speak after being called on by the President. Members of the Council or Commission may also attend and speak in debates.[90][91] 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.[92] Voting is conducted primarily by a show of hands, that may be checked on request by electronic voting.[93] Votes of MEPs are not recorded in either case, however; that only occurs when there is a roll-call ballot. This is required for the final votes on legislation and also whenever a political group or 30 MEPs request it. The number of roll-call votes has increased with time. Votes can also be a completely secret ballot (for example, when the president is elected).[94][95] All recorded votes, along with minutes and legislation, are recorded in the Official Journal of the European Union and can be accessed online.[96] 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. 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.[97]

Members are arranged in a hemicycle according to their political groups (in the Common Assembly, prior to 1958, members sat alphabetically[98]) who are ordered mainly by left to right, but some smaller groups are placed towards the outer ring of the Parliament. All desks are equipped with microphones, headphones for translation and electronic voting equipment. The leaders of the groups sit on the front benches at the centre, and in the very centre is a podium for guest speakers. The remaining half of the circular chamber is primarily composed of the raised area where the President and staff sit. 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. Both the Brussels and Strasbourg hemicycle roughly follow this layout with only minor differences.[99] The hemicycle design is a compromise between the different Parliamentary systems. 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). Although the design is mainly based on a semicircle, the opposite ends of the spectrum do still face each other.[98] With access to the chamber limited, entrance is controlled by ushers who aid MEPs in the chamber (for example in delivering documents). 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). 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. 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. The President is allocated a personal usher.[100]

President and organisation Main article: President of the European Parliament President Antonio Tajani.

The President is essentially the speaker of the Parliament and presides over the plenary when it is in session. The President's signature is required for all acts adopted by co-decision, including the EU budget. The President is also responsible for representing the Parliament externally, including in legal matters, and for the application of the rules of procedure. He or she is elected for two-and-a-half-year terms, meaning two elections per parliamentary term.[101][102] The President is currently Antonio Tajani MEP of the EPP.

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. The gifts given to numerous visiting dignitaries depend upon the President. 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.[8]

A number of notable figures have been President of the Parliament and its predecessors. The first President was Paul-Henri Spaak MEP,[103] one of the founding fathers of the Union. Other founding fathers include Alcide de Gasperi MEP and Robert Schuman MEP. The two female Presidents were Simone Veil MEP in 1979 (first President of the elected Parliament) and Nicole Fontaine MEP in 1999, both Frenchwomen.[104] 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.[105]

During the election of a President, the previous President (or, if unable to, one of the previous Vice-Presidents) presides over the chamber.[106] Prior to 2009, the oldest member fulfilled this role[107] but the rule was changed to prevent far-right French MEP Jean-Marie Le Pen taking the chair.[106]

Below the President, there are 14 Vice-Presidents who chair debates when the President is not in the chamber. There are a number of other bodies and posts responsible for the running of parliament besides these speakers. 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. Looking after the financial and administrative interests of members are five Quaestors.

As of 2014[update], the European Parliament budget was EUR 1.756 billion.[108] A 2008 report on the Parliament's finances highlighted certain overspending and miss-payments. Despite some MEPs calling for the report to be published, Parliamentary authorities had refused until an MEP broke confidentiality and leaked it.[109]

Committees and delegations Main article: Committees of the European Parliament These "relocation boxes" of the European Parliament, called "cantines", are ready to be transported from Brussels to Strasbourg where a plenary session will take place. Each month, the EP moves back and forth to meet the EU obligation to hold meetings also in France.

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. They meet twice a month in public to draw up, amend to adopt legislative proposals and reports to be presented to the plenary.[110] The rapporteurs for a committee are supposed to present the view of the committee, although notably this has not always been the case. 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.[29]

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). The chairs of the Committees co-ordinate their work through the "Conference of Committee Chairmen".[110] 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. 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.[21]

A Committee room in the Parliament

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. Considerable administration, archives and research resources are also at the disposal of the whole Parliament when needed.[46]

Delegations of the Parliament are formed in a similar manner and are responsible for relations with Parliaments outside the EU. There are 34 delegations made up of around 15 MEPs, chairpersons of the delegations also cooperate in a conference like the committee chairs do. 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.[110] 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.[111]

Interpreting booths in the hemicycle simultaneously interpret debates between 24 languages Intergroups

The Intergroups in the European Parliament are informal fora which gather MEPs from various political groups around any topic. They do not express the view of the European Parliament. They serve a double purpose: to address a topic which is transversal to several committees and in a less formal manner. Their daily secretariat can be run either through the office of MEPs or through interest groups, be them corporate lobbies or NGOs. The favored access to MEPs which the organization running the secretariat enjoys can be one explanation to the multiplication of Intergroups in the 1990s.[112] 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.[113] Also Intergroups are established or renewed at the beginning of each legislature through a specific process. 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).[114]

Translation and interpretation

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. Simultaneous interpreting is offered in all plenary sessions, and all final texts of legislation are translated. With twenty-four languages, the European Parliament is the most multilingual parliament in the world[115] and the biggest employer of interpreters in the world (employing 350 full-time and 400 free-lancers when there is higher demand).[116] Citizens may also address the Parliament in Basque, Catalan, Valencian and Galician.[117]

Usually a language is translated from a foreign tongue into a translator's native tongue. 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). 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.[116] Due to the complexity of the issues, interpretation is not word for word. Instead, interpreters have to convey the political meaning of a speech, regardless of their own views. 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). Difficulty can often arise when MEPs use profanities, jokes and word play or speak too fast.[116]

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. 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.[118] Some see the ideal single language as being English due to its widespread usage, although there has been a small-scale campaign to make French the reference language for all legal texts, due to the fact that it is more clear and precise for legal purposes.[119]

Because the proceedings are translated into all of the official EU languages, they have been used to make a multilingual corpus known as Europarl. It is widely used to train statistical machine translation systems.[120]

Annual costs

According to the European Parliament website, the annual parliament budget for 2016 was €1.838 billion.[121] The main cost categories were:

  • 34% - staff, interpretation and translation costs
  • 24% - information policy, IT, telecommunications
  • 23% - MEPs' salaries, expenses, travel, offices and staff
  • 13% - buildings
  • 6% - political group activities

According to a European Parliament study prepared in 2013, the Strasbourg seat costs €103 million and according to the Court of Auditors an additional €5 million is related to travel expenses caused by having two seats.[122]

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.[123] The British House of Commons reported total annual costs in 2016-2017 of £249 million (€279 million). It had 650 seats.[124]

According to The Economist, the European Parliament costs more than the British, French and German parliaments combined. 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.[125] For a like-for-like comparison, these two cost blocks can be excluded. The resulting costs of c. €1.2 billion a year are still more than double the German Bundestag's costs or more than four times the costs of the British House of Commons.

On 2 July 2018, MEPs rejected proposals to tighten the rules around the General Expenditure Allowance (GEA)[126]

Seat Further information: Location of European Union institutions, Espace Léopold, and Seat of the European Parliament in Strasbourg @media all and (max-width:720px){.mw-parser-output .tmulti>.thumbinner{width:100%!important;max-width:none!important}.mw-parser-output .tmulti .tsingle{float:none!important;max-width:none!important;width:100%!important;text-align:center}}

The Parliament is based in three different cities with numerous buildings. 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. Luxembourg hosts the Secretariat of the European Parliament.[10] The European Parliament is the only assembly in the world with more than one meeting place and one of the few that does not have the power to decide its own location.[127]

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. However, the cost and inconvenience of having two seats is questioned. While Strasbourg is the official seat, and sits alongside the Council of Europe,[128] Brussels is home to nearly all other major EU institutions, with the majority of Parliament's work being carried out there. Critics have described the two-seat arrangement as a "travelling circus",[129] and there is a strong movement to establish Brussels as the sole seat. 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. This movement has received strong backing from numerous figures, including the Commission First-Vice President 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".[130] 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.[129] The campaign is further backed by a million-strong online petition started by Cecilia Malmström MEP.[131] 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.[132] 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.[133]

Most MEPs prefer Brussels as a single base.[134] A poll of MEPs found 89% of the respondents wanting a single seat, and 81% preferring Brussels.[135] Another, more academic, survey found 68% support.[13] In July 2011, an absolute majority of MEPs voted in favour of a single seat.[136] In early 2011, the Parliament voted to scrap one of the Strasbourg sessions by holding two within a single week.[137] 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."[138] 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.[127] 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.[139] 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.[140][141][142]

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

Over the last few years, European institutions have committed to promoting transparency, openness, and the availability of information about their work.[143] 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.[144] 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. Decisions shall be taken as openly and as closely as possible to the citizen".[145][146] Furthermore, both treaties acknowledge the value of dialogue between citizens, representative associations, civil society, and European institutions.[145][146]

Dialogue with religious and non-confessional organisations

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.[147] 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.[148] 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.[147]

European Parliament Mediator for International Parental Child Abduction

The chair of European Parliament Mediator for International Parental Child Abduction was established in 1987 by initiative of British politician and MEP Charles Henry Plumb, with the goal of helping minor children of international couples victim of parental abduction. 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.[149][150] 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).[150] 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. The Mediator is activated by request of a citizen and, after evaluating the request, starts a mediation process aimed at reaching an agreement. Once subscribed by both parties and the Mediator, the agreement is official. The nature of the agreement is that of a private contract between parties.[150] 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. The agreement can be ratified by the competent national courts and can also lay the foundation for consensual separation or divorce.[150]

European Parliamentary Research Service

The European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) is the European Parliament's in-house research department and think tank. 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. It is also designed to increase Members' and EP committees' capacity to scrutinise and oversee the European Commission and other EU executive bodies.

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. 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. All publications by EPRS are publicly available on the EP Think Tank platform.[151][152]

Eurobarometer of the European Parliament

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. 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.[153][154]

Prizes

Annually, the European Parliament awards four prizes to individuals and organisations that distinguished themselves in the areas of human rights, film, youth projects, and European participation and citizenship.

Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought The ceremony of the Sakharov Prize awarded to Aung San Suu Kyi by Martin Schulz, in 2013

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. 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.[155][156]

European Charlemagne Youth Prize

The European Charlemagne Youth Prize seeks to encourage youth participation in the European integration process. 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.[155]

European Citizens' Prize

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.[155]

LUX Prize

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. Over time, the Lux Prize has become a prestigious cinema award which supports European film and production also outside the EU.[157]

See also
  • Book: European Union
  • Parlamentarium
  • Parliamentwatch
  • State of the Union address (European Union)
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Further reading .mw-parser-output .refbegin{font-size:90%;margin-bottom:0.5em}.mw-parser-output .refbegin-hanging-indents>ul{list-style-type:none;margin-left:0}.mw-parser-output .refbegin-hanging-indents>ul>li,.mw-parser-output .refbegin-hanging-indents>dl>dd{margin-left:0;padding-left:3.2em;text-indent:-3.2em;list-style:none}.mw-parser-output .refbegin-100{font-size:100%}
  • Attwool, Elspeth (2000). To the Power of Ten: UK Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament (Centre for Reform Papers). Open Europe. ISBN 978-1-902622-17-0. 
  • Butler, David; Martin Westlake (2005). British Politics and European Election. London: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-4039-3585-4. 
  • Farrell, David; Roger Scully (2007). Representing Europe's Citizens?: Electoral Institutions and the Failure of Parliamentary Representation. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-928502-0. 
  • Gazzola, Michele (2006). "Managing Multilingualism in the European Union: Language Policy Evaluation for the European Parliament". Language Policy. Netherlands: Springer. 5 (4): 393–417. doi:10.1007/s10993-006-9032-5. 
  • Corbett, Richard; Jacobs, Francis; Shackleton, Michael (2016). The European Parliament (9th ed.). London: John Harper Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9564508-5-2.  The same three co-authors have written every edition since the first in 1990.
  • Corbett, Richard (June 1998). The European Parliament's Role in Closer EU Integration. LBasingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0333722527. 
  • Hix, Simon; Noury, Abdul; Roland, Gérard (2007). "Democratic Politics in the European Parliament (Themes in European Governance)". Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-69460-5.  (draft version on-line)
  • Hix, Simon; Noury, Abdul; Roland, Gérard (April 2006). "Dimensions of politics in the European Parliament". American Journal of Political Science. Wiley. 50 (2): 494–520. doi:10.1111/j.1540-5907.2006.00198.x. JSTOR 3694286.  Pdf.
  • Hoskyns, Catherine; Michael Newman (2000). Democratizing the European Union: Issues for the twenty-first Century (Perspectives on Democratization). Manchester University Press. ISBN 978-0-7190-5666-6. 
  • Kreppel, Amie (2001). The European Parliament and Supranational Party System: A Study in Institutional Development (Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-00079-6. 
  • Van der Laan, Lousewies (2003). The Case For a Stronger European Parliament. London: Centre for European Reform. ISBN 1-901229-49-1. 
  • Lodge, Juliet (23 June 2005). The 2004 Elections to the European Parliament. London: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-4039-3518-2. 
  • Lodge, Juliet, ed. The 2009 Elections to the European Parliament (Palgrave Macmillan; 2011) 327 pages
  • Maier, Michaela; Tenscher, Jens (2006). Campaigning in Europe, Campaigning for Europe: Political Parties, Campaigns, Mass Media and the European Parliament Elections 2004 (Medien). Lit Verlag. ISBN 978-3-8258-9322-4. 
  • Rittberger, Berthold (2007). Building Europe's Parliament: Democratic Representation Beyond the Nation State. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-923199-7. 
  • Sabbati, Giulio (2015). European Parliament: Facts and Figures'. European Parliament – European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS).
  • Schmitter, Philippe (2000). How to Democratize the EU ... and Why Bother? (Governance in Europe). Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. ISBN 978-0-8476-9905-6. 
  • Scully, Roger (2005). Becoming European?: Attitudes, Behaviour, and Socialization in the European Parliament. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-928432-0. 
  • Serodes, Fabrice; Heinz, Michel (2013). Le Parlement européen. Foreword by Martin Schulz. Paris: Nane Editions. ISBN 978-2-84368-100-4. 
  • Smith, Julie (1999). Europe's Elected Parliament (Contemporary European Studies). London: Continuum International Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-333-59874-0. 
  • Steuenberg, Bernard; Jacques Thomassen (2002). The European Parliament on the Move: Toward Parliamentary Democracy in Europe (Governance in Europe). Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. ISBN 978-0-7425-0126-3. 
  • Dick Toornstra; Christian Meseth (2012). Inside the European Parliament: A guide to its parliamentary and administrative structures. European Parliament – Office for Promotion of Parliamentary Democracy (OPPD).
  • Watson, Graham (2004). EU've Got Mail!: Liberal Letters from the European Parliament. Bagehot Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9545745-1-2. 
  • Wood, David M.; Birol A. Yesilada (2007). The Emerging European Union (4th Ed.). Pearson Longman. ISBN 0-321-43941-4. 
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Coordinates: 48°35′51″N 7°46′09″E / 48.597512°N 7.769092°E / 48.597512; 7.769092

Authority control
  • WorldCat Identities
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Parliament and Parliamentarism: A Comparative History of a European Concept (European Conceptual History)
Parliament and Parliamentarism: A Comparative History of a European Concept (European Conceptual History)
Parliamentary theory, practices, discourses, and institutions constitute a distinctively European contribution to modern politics. Taking a broad historical perspective, this cross-disciplinary, innovative, and rigorous collection locates the essence of parliamentarism in four key aspects-deliberation, representation, responsibility, and sovereignty-and explores the different ways in which they have been contested, reshaped, and implemented in a series of representative national and regional case studies. As one of the first comparative studies in conceptual history, this volume focuses on debates about the nature of parliament and parliamentarism within and across different European countries, representative institutions, and genres of political discourse.

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$27.75
-$7.20(-21%)



Opposing Europe in the European Parliament: Rebels and Radicals in the Chamber (Palgrave Studies in European Union Politics)
Opposing Europe in the European Parliament: Rebels and Radicals in the Chamber (Palgrave Studies in European Union Politics)
The book provides an in-depth analysis of Eurosceptics’ strategies in the European Parliament. It explores the paradoxical situation of Eurosceptic MEPs: particularly successful during EP elections, how then, once elected, do they operate in a political system they oppose? This book analyses how Eurosceptic MEPs conceive and carry out their mandate within the institution. On the basis of more than 100 interviews, it proposes a typology of four strategies developed by these actors. It also explains the diversity of Eurosceptics’ strategies, showing the relevance of the interaction between the institutional context and the individuals’ preferences. With the growing success of Eurosceptic parties and the challenges they pose to the future of integration, this study also reflects on the consequences of their presence for the EP and for the legitimacy of the EU. This book will be of interest to students and scholars of European politics, European integration, comparative politics, legislative studies and political parties.

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$81.36
-$38.63(-32%)



Democratic Politics in the European Parliament (Themes in European Governance)
Democratic Politics in the European Parliament (Themes in European Governance)
With the European Parliament comprising politicians from many different countries, cultures, languages, national parties and institutional backgrounds, one might expect politics in the Parliament to be highly-fragmented and unpredictable. By studying more than 12,000 recorded votes between 1979 and 2004 this 2007 book establishes that the opposite is in fact true: transnational parties in the European Parliament are highly cohesive and the classic 'left-right' dimension dominates voting behaviour. Furthermore, the cohesion of parties in the European Parliament has increased as the powers of the Parliament have increased. The authors suggest that the main reason for these developments is that like-minded MEPs have incentives to form stable transnational party organizations and to use these organizations to compete over European Union policies. They suggest that this is a positive development for the future of democratic accountability in the European Union.

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$31.34
-$15.65(-33%)



Parliaments and Governments (European and National Constitutional Law Series)
Parliaments and Governments (European and National Constitutional Law Series)
The wider project of which this book is a part, investigated the constitutional structures of the EU Member States. This work sheds light on the intricate interconnections which exist between Member State governments and their national parliaments.

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$83.60
-$4.40(-5%)



The European Parliament
The European Parliament
First published in 1990, for more than a quarter-century this has been the premier textbook on the European Parliament. This new 9th edition - the first for five years - has been fully updated and expanded, including all the familiar features and all recent significant developments. The book systematically and clearly covers every aspect of how the Parliament is elected, its internal structures and procedures, its powers and how it relates to the other EU institutions. It is written by insiders with vast accumulated experience of how the Parliament really works, with extra input from dozens of specialists within the Parliament. "An invaluable guide to the institution's history, power and politics." (Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament)"Explains with utmost clarity how it all works. It is an indispensable tool for anyone interested in or dealing with the European Parliament." (Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission)"This book is the authoritative guide to the European Parliament." (Donald Tusk, President of the European Council)

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$37.83



How To Run The European Parliament
How To Run The European Parliament
DESCRIPTION AND COMMENTS BY POLITICAL LEADERS: How do you gain influence and publicity in the European Parliament? How do you compete successfully with the Council and the Commission? How can you use reporters and lobbyists to advance your political career? How to Run the European Parliament offers a unique look behind the scenes and reveals the secret tactics and manoeuvres Members of the European Parliament need to master in order to prevail. This brutally honest tutorial is a must-read for all MEPs, assistants, public servants, lobbyists, and journalists who want to understand how power politics is played. JACEK SARYUSZ-WOLSKI | Vice-President of the European People’s Party “Achieving success as an MEP, both nationally and within the EU, requires many skills - mastering the nuances of the legislative process, negotiating with impact, building networks, maximizing support and votes, organizing day-to-day functioning with optimal results, and many more. Marilyn Political's insightful tutorial captures these nuances in one book that every aspiring MEP and his collaborators should read.” ALEXANDER GRAF LAMBSDORFF | Vice-President of the European Parliament “Unique and impressive. An absolute must-read for all new Members of the European Parliament.” PETRI SARVAMAA | Vice-Chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Budgets “Astonishing read! It's merciless, unforgiving, and so true. As an MEP I could not imagine a better guide into ways of influencing political decision-making in Brussels. I regularly go back to the advice of the book. And I make sure all my advisers and assistants know the text by heart.” MARKUS FERBER | Vice-Chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs “How to Run the European Parliament provides an informed insight on what happens behind the curtains. From negotiation strategies to shaping public perceptions - this book is the perfect read if you want to gain an in-depth understanding of how European policy making actually works.” LINNÉA ENGSTRÖM | Vice-Chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Fisheries “This book will teach you the mind-set and psychology of the European Parliament. Being a European politician means: relying on good advisers and having the confidence and strength to be patient, generous, and trustworthy. The road to success lies in hard work - and making the right choices. This book will give you exactly the push you need, and the direction to set you on the right path.” ANDREY NOVAKOV | Member of the European Parliament “One of the most get-to-the-point, useful, and must-have political books I have in my library.” IVAN ŠTEFANEC | Member of the European Parliament “The book is a very useful and enjoyable reading, particularly for newcomers to the European Parliament. It is a good overview of parliamentarian activities. It reassured me about what I was doing right and where I should improve.” JONÁS FERNÁNDEZ | Member of the European Parliament “This book makes for fascinating - and funny - reading. More importantly, it is quite useful, particularly for newcomers. I highly recommend it to any new MEP as absolutely essential. It provides quite a number of practical suggestions, and not to be underestimated, a fair amount of laughing, something that should never be in short supply when working at the European Parliament.” SANDER LOONES | Vice-Chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs “The European House of Cards, but with a healthy portion of pragmatism.” LOOK INSIDE THE BOOK: www.marilynpolitical.com/publications

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$9.99



The European Parliament
The European Parliament
The 766-member European Parliament (EP) is a key institution of the European Union (EU), a unique political and economic partnership composed of 28 member states. The EP is the only EU institution that is directly elected. Although the EP does not formally initiate EU legislation, it plays a significant role in the EU’s legislative and budgeting processes, and works closely with the two other main EU bodies, the European Commission and the Council of the European Union (also known as the Council of Ministers).Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) serve five-year terms. The most recent EP elections were held in June 2009. The EP currently has seven political groups, which caucus according to political ideology rather than nationality, plus a number of “non-attached” or independent members. The EP has 20 standing committees that are key actors in the adoption of EU legislation and a total of 41 delegations that maintain international parliament-to-parliament relations. The EP is led by a President, who oversees its work and represents the EP externally.Once limited to being a consultative assembly, the EP has accumulated more power over time. Experts assert that the EU’s latest effort at institutional reform—the Lisbon Treaty, which entered into force on December 1, 2009—increases the relative power of the EP within the EU considerably. The EP now shares legislative power with the Council of Ministers in most policy areas, giving the EP the right to accept, amend, or reject the vast majority of EU laws (with some exceptions in areas such as tax matters or foreign policy). The Lisbon Treaty also gives the EP the power to decide on the allocation of the EU budget jointly with the Council, the right to approve or reject international agreements, and greater decision-making authority on trade-related issues. At the same time, some analysts contend that the EP still lacks the legitimacy of national parliaments. Those of this view note the perpetually low voter turnout for EP elections, and assert that many European citizens remain unaware of the EP’s role within the EU.The EP has not been shy about exerting its new powers under the Lisbon Treaty, and in some areas, with implications for U.S. interests. Long-standing EP concerns about U.S. data privacy safeguards contributed to the EP’s initial rejection in February 2010 of the U.S.-EU SWIFT agreement allowing U.S. authorities access to European financial data to help counter terrorism (a revised accord was eventually approved in July 2010). EP worries about whether the United States could guarantee a sufficient level of protection for European citizens’ personal data also necessitated a new round of U.S.-EU negotiations on another anti-terrorism measure that permits the sharing of airline Passenger Name Record (PNR) data. Following the recent revelations of U.S. National Security Agency surveillance programs and news reports alleging that U.S. intelligence agencies have monitored EU diplomatic offices, many analysts worry about whether future U.S.-EU information-sharing agreements will be able to secure the necessary EP approval. In addition, EP approval will ultimately be required to allow any eventual U.S.-EU agreement on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) to enter into force.Ties between the EP and the U.S. Congress are long-standing, and institutional cooperation currently exists through the Transatlantic Legislators’ Dialogue (TLD). In light of the EP’s new powers following the entrance into force of the Lisbon Treaty, especially those that have increased the EP’s role as an actor in the conduct of U.S.-EU relations, the EP and its activities may be of increasing interest to the 113th Congress. Also see CRS Report RS21372, The European Union: Questions and Answers, by Kristin Archick.

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The European Parliament and Supranational Party System: A Study in Institutional Development (Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics)
The European Parliament and Supranational Party System: A Study in Institutional Development (Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics)
This book examines the impact of increased legislative power and political authority on the internal development of the European Parliament and the supranational party group system. This is done through an analysis of changes in the hierarchical structures that regulate the internal organization of both the European Parliament as a whole and the individual party groups. In addition, the changing pattern of coalition formation between party groups across time and legislative procedure is analyzed.

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$28.52
-$7.47(-21%)


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