This month the citizens of the European Union elect the Members of the European Parliament. What exactly is the European Parliament and what does it do?
Etymologically, the term parliament derives from the Anglo-Norman word parlement which means discussion, conversation, meeting, and negotiation. The European Parliament is the law-making body of the EU and currently consists of 751 Members (MEPs) who are directly elected by the voters every five years.
Each country has a certain number of MEPs, roughly proportionate to its population but not less than six (Cyprus, Luxembourg, Malta) and not more than 96 (Germany). In case the UK leaves the EU, the number of MEPs will be reduced to 705 in total, some of UK’s seats being redistributed to other countries as shown in the infographic 1.
The MEPs, however, are not grouped by nationality but by political affiliation. Currently, there are eight different political groups in the EU Parliament as shown in the infographic 2.
The European Parliament has three main responsibilities, which include legislative, budgetary, and supervisory tasks, like passing EU laws and establishing the EU budget together with the Council of the EU, as well as democratic monitoring of all EU institutions. The Parliament is represented by its president.
The MEPs’ work consist of two stages. First, there is the preparation of legislation. The 20 committees and two subcommittees assigned to specific policy areas review legislation proposals and the MEPs can suggest amendments. To pass the legislation, the MEPS vote in the Plenary Session on the legislation and its suggested amendments. This second stage mostly takes place in Strasbourg but sometimes additional sessions are held in Brussels.
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The ABC of the European Parliament | News | European Parliament. The ABC of the European Parliament | News | European Parliament. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/headlines/eu-affairs/20151116IFG02847/the-abc-of-the-european-parliament. Published November 18, 2015. Accessed May 2, 2019
The Committees of the European Parliament . The committees. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/about-parliament/en/organisation-and-rules/organisation/committees. Accessed May 2, 2019.
The EU decision-making process | News | European Parliament. The EU decision-making process | News | European Parliament. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/headlines/society/20180322STO00306/the-eu-decision-making-process. Published March 28, 2018. Accessed May 2, 2019.
The Political groups of the European Parliament . The political groups. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/about-parliament/en/organisation-and-rules/organisation/political-groups. Accessed May 2, 2019.
Visit the European Parliament. Visit the European Parliament | Visiting | European Parliament. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/visiting/en/. Accessed May 2, 2019.
Welcome to the European Parliament . About Parliament. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/about-parliament/en. Accessed May 2, 2019.
Written by Annemarie Menger – Communication Trainee at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament (Luxembourg) and a student of the Master’s Program in Learning and Communication in Multilingual and Multicultural Contexts at the University of Luxembourg. She holds a teacher’s degree in the form of the First German State Examination for Elementary Education, a BA in Cultural Basic Skills and an additional degree in Global Systems and Intercultural Competence from the University of Würzburg.