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Plenary Chamber of the European Parliament in Strasbourg
|Distribution of MEPs among the parliamentary groups
see also: List of Members of Parliament
As of October 6, 2021
Christian Democrats, Conservatives
CDU , CSU , family
FDP , FW
Greens, regional parties
Greens , ÖDP , Pirates ,
Volt , Semsrott
right-wing populists, right-wing extremists
conservatives, EU skeptics
PARTY , Bushman
The European Parliament (unofficially also the European Parliament or EU Parliament ; EP for short ; lat. Parlamentum Europaeum ) with its official seat in Strasbourg is the Parliament of the European Union ( EU Treaty ). Since 1979, the citizens of the EU have held general, direct, free, secret, but not equal European elections every five years (most recently in 2019 ) . This makes the European Parliament the only directly elected body of the European Union and the only directly elected supranational institution in the world.
Since the Parliament was founded in 1952, its powers in EU legislation have been significantly expanded several times, most notably by the 1992 Maastricht Treaty and most recently by the 2007 Lisbon Treaty , which came into force on December 1, 2009. Parliament's rights were also gradually expanded with regard to the formation of the executive , i.e. the election of the European Commission . For example, candidates for the EU Commission must first face a hearing in the European Parliament and prove their suitability and qualifications for the proposed office. This hearing is usually conducted by the relevant committee of the European Parliament and all hearings are also web streamed to the public via the European Parliament website. The candidate can only be elected member of the EU Commission after the successful completion of the hearing. This is also done by the European Parliament (plenum).
In the European Parliament, the typical contrast between government and opposition factions is missing. Unlike in most national parliaments, in which the government factions are usually loyal to the government and support its draft laws in principle, changing majorities are formed in the European Parliament depending on the voting topic. This also means that individual MEPs are more independent and have greater influence on EU legislation with negotiating skills and expertise than MEPs in national parliaments can. In its judgment on the Lisbon Treaty of June 30, 2009, the Federal Constitutional Court granted the European Parliament only limited democratic legitimacy and sees its decision-making powers with regard to further steps towards European integration limited as a result.
Since the 2014 European elections , the Parliament has had a maximum of 750 seats plus the President, i.e. 751 MPs ( (2) of the EU Treaty). Parliament currently has seven political groups and 36 non-attached MEPs . In their home countries, these MEPs are members of around 200 different national parties , most of which have joined together to form European parties at European level .
President of the European Parliament was David Sassoli ( S&D ) from 3 July 2019 until his death in January 2022 . In addition to Strasbourg, the European Parliament also works in Brussels and Luxembourg . The Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament contain rules on organization and working methods .
When the United Kingdom left the European Union on January 31, 2020 (known as “ Brexit ”), the number of mandates allocated to each member state changed. Of the 73 British seats in Parliament, 27 vacant seats were redistributed among the EU countries in proportion to the number of inhabitants. 46 seats have been put in reserve for possible EU enlargement.
The tasks of the European Parliament are described in of the EU Treaty . As a result, the Parliament acts jointly with the Council as legislator , exercises joint budgetary powers and exercises political control. Furthermore, it should act in an advisory capacity and elect the Commission President .
The Parliament shares the legislative function with the Council of the European Union , so it adopts European laws ( directives , regulations , decisions ). Since the Lisbon Treaty, the so-called ordinary legislative procedure ( FEU Treaty ) has applied in most policy areas, in which the Parliament and the Council of the EU have equal rights and can introduce changes to a legislative text proposed by the European Commission in two readings. In the event of a disagreement, the Council and Parliament must reach an agreement in a third reading in a mediation committee. However, in order to avoid the time-consuming nature of this procedure, more and more legislative proposals are being negotiated in informal trilogue procedures so that they can then already be passed in the first reading: between 2004 and 2009 this applied to 72% of all draft laws, compared to 33% between 1999 and 2004.
Overall, the legislative procedure is similar to the German legislative procedure between the Bundestag and the Bundesrat . However, unlike the Bundestag, the European Parliament does not have its own right of initiative and can therefore not introduce its own bills. At EU level, only the EU Commission has this right of initiative, which, according to TFEU , can be requested by the European Parliament to exercise it.
In a binding declaration from 2010, the parliamentarians agreed with the Commission to provide the applicable European legal provisions with an aid to interpreting them, so that in the future the Commission will have to submit a draft law within twelve months or give a detailed justification within three months at the instigation of Parliament why she doesn't do it. Thus, for the first time, the European Parliament has at least a limited right of initiative.
In addition to the ordinary legislative procedure, there are other forms of legislation in the EU in which Parliament has less say. After the Nice Treaty , however, these now only cover a few specific policy areas. In the area of competition policy, for example, Parliament only has to be consulted. According to Art. 36 TEU, it also has hardly any say in the common foreign and security policy . The High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy must keep Parliament regularly informed and ensure that Parliament's views are "duly taken into account". Since the Treaty of Lisbon came into force on December 1, 2009, the European Parliament has the right to propose amendments to draft laws and to reject the respective legal act in the area of the common commercial policy .
After this incorporation into the ordinary legislative procedure, the results of negotiations by the European Commission in the area of the common commercial policy require the approval of the European Parliament before the decision-making process by the European Council can proceed.
The European Parliament and the Council of the European Union (Council of Ministers) jointly decide on the budget of the European Union (141.5 billion euros in 2010). The European Commission proposes a draft budget; Parliament and the Council of Ministers can then decide on changes in the budgetary process. If both agree, the budget with the changes comes into force. If there are differences between Parliament and Council about the plan, a complex procedure involving mutual consultation and voting is carried out. If there is still no agreement after this political fine-tuning, the mediation committee is called in as a last resort. In political practice, this usually leads to a compromise and an agreement. The procedure is regulated in detail in TFEU.
Parliament also exercises parliamentary control over the European Commission and the Council of the European Union . To this end, it can set up investigative committees and, if necessary, file a complaint with the European Court of Justice . This is also true in areas such as the Common Foreign and Security Policy , where the Commission and the Council have executive functions and Parliament's legislative co-determination rights are limited. In order for Parliament to be able to fulfill this control function, the other EU institutions, above all the Commission, the Council and the European Central Bank , must report regularly to Parliament on their activities; the President of the Parliament also attends the summit meetings of the European Council . MEPs can also put written and oral parliamentary questions to the Commission and the Council. While the right to ask questions to the Commission has an express primary legal basis in TFEU , the right to ask questions to the Council is based on a voluntary declaration by the Council in 1973 to answer Parliament's questions.
Another effective means of parliamentary control is the vote of no confidence in accordance with Article 234 TFEU. With a double majority - two-thirds of the votes cast and a majority of the members - Parliament can express no confidence in the Commission. Then the entire Commission must resign from office as a whole.
Parliament also plays an important role in appointing the Commission: According to of the EU Treaty , Parliament elects the President of the European Commission . However, the right of proposal lies with the European Council , which, however, has to “take into account” the result of the previous European elections . So far, this provision has only been interpreted to the extent that the proposed candidate comes from the European party that achieved the best result in the European elections; the essential negotiations before the nomination of the Commission President took place between the governments of the Member States. However, there were repeated suggestions that the European parties should nominate top candidates for the office of Commission President during the election campaign, in order to strengthen the role of Parliament vis-à-vis the European Council. Corresponding attempts before the European elections in 2009 failed due to disagreements within the European parties. In the 2014 European elections , the five major European party families (Conservatives, Social Democrats, Liberals, Greens, Socialists) nominated Europe-wide top candidates for the first time, who were more or less in the foreground in the election campaign.
In addition to the President of the Commission, Parliament also approves the entire Commission. Here, too, the candidates are nominated by the European Council, with the decision traditionally being largely left to national governments. However, Parliament checks the competence and integrity of the individual commissioners in the respective specialist committees and then decides in plenary on the appointment of the commission. Only the Commission as a whole can accept or reject it, not individual members. Parliament has repeatedly pushed through the withdrawal of individual candidates deemed unsuitable by threatening to reject the commission as a whole, for example Rocco Buttiglione in 2004 and Rumjana Schelewa in 2009 .
In addition, Parliament can force the resignation of the Commission through a vote of no confidence ( TFEU ). It requires a two-thirds majority, which is quite a high hurdle compared to national parliaments and gives the Commission a relatively high level of autonomy. The right to a vote of no confidence is one of Parliament's oldest powers. It has never been applied before. In 1999, the Santer Commission resigned en bloc after Parliament threatened a vote of no confidence.
On the other hand, Parliament usually only has a limited say in the appointment of other EU officials outside the European Commission. When appointing the members of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank (ECB), it must be consulted by the Council of the European Union according to TFEU , but cannot block its decision. Otherwise, the European Parliament has little formal control over the ECB, which according to the EU Treaty should be independent in its decisions. The same applies to the judges at the Court of Justice of the European Union , in whose election the European Parliament is not involved at all according to f.
Every European citizen has the right to submit petitions to the European Parliament , which are dealt with in the Petitions Committee . Parliament also appoints the European Ombudsman , who investigates complaints from citizens about maladministration in the EU institutions.
|Before 1979 (1952–1979)|
|1st legislature (1979–1984)|
|2nd legislature (1984–1989)|
|3rd legislature (1989–1994)|
|4th legislature (1994–1999)|
|5th legislature (1999–2004)|
|6th legislature (2004–2009)|
|7th legislature (2009–2014)|
|8th legislature (2014–2019)|
|9th legislature (2019–2024)|
organization of parliamentary work
Like a national parliament, the European Parliament is not organized around national groups, but according to ideological groups . These are made up of MEPs with similar political views and essentially correspond to European political parties . However, different European parties often form a common group ( e.g. the Greens/EFA Group , made up of the European Green Party and the European Free Alliance , or the ALDE Group , made up of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe together with the European Democratic Party is formed), and non-party MPs are also represented in several parliamentary groups. Since the 2009 European elections , at least 25 MEPs from at least a quarter of the member states (i.e. seven) have been required to form a political group .
Below the parliamentary group level, the MEPs also organize themselves in so-called national delegations , each of which includes the members of a national party. They correspond roughly to the regional groups in the German Bundestag .
Since the European Parliament – unlike national parliaments – does not elect a government in the traditional sense, the juxtaposition of governing coalition and opposition factions is less pronounced here. Instead of confrontation, compromise solutions are usually sought between the major parties. Traditionally, the two largest groups, the conservative-Christian-Democratic EPP and the social-democratic S&D , dominate events. The Social Democrats were the largest group up until 1999, since then the EPP. No single group has ever had an absolute majority in the European Parliament, but this informal “grand coalition” has always had a majority of 50% to 70%.
This constellation is additionally encouraged by the fact that, according to the ordinary legislative procedure, an absolute majority of the elected (not the present) Members of the European Parliament is required for the adoption of a decision in the second reading. Since not all MEPs are usually present at plenary sessions, Parliament can only organize the necessary majorities through cooperation between the EPP and S&D. A clear indicator of the cooperation between the major groups is their agreement to divide the five-year mandate of the speaker of the parliament among themselves. Nevertheless, the grand coalition is still not formalized, there is neither a coalition agreement nor a fixed joint "government program". In the day-to-day work of the European Parliament, decisions are usually taken with changing majorities from different groups, although almost always based on a compromise between the EPP and S&D.
However, the Grand Coalition practice has been repeatedly criticized by members of the smaller factions, particularly the Liberals and Greens . During the 1999-2004 legislative period, the corruption scandal surrounding the Santer Commission temporarily broke up the grand coalition and led to cooperation between the EPP and the Liberals. In 2004 - during the discussion about the appointment of Rocco Buttiglione as Commissioner for Justice - the EPP and the Liberals distanced themselves from each other again, so that - despite the differences between the EPP and the Social Democrats - a new informal grand coalition finally came about. Before the 2009 European elections , Graham Watson , leader of the Liberal group, announced his aim of having his group participate in a stable coalition with the EPP or Social Democrats in the next parliamentary term. However, no such “small” coalition achieved a majority in the elections. The following table lists the distribution of MEPs by political group (absolute numbers and percentages) since 1979, at the beginning and end of each legislative period.
|right-wing extremists||non-affiliated||total number|
|44 (10.7%)||113 (27.6%)||11 (2.7%)||40 (9.8%)||107 (26.1%)||64 (15.6%)||22 (5.4%)||9 (2.2%)||410|
|48 (11.1%)||124 (28.6%)||12 (2.8%)||38 (8.8%)||117 (27.0%)||63 (14.5%)||22 (5.1%)||10 (2.3%)||434|
|1984-1989 _||COM||SOZ||RBW||L||EPP||ED||RDE||HE||NI 1||total|
|41 (9.4%)||130 (30.0%)||20 (4.6%)||31 (7.1%)||110 (25.3%)||50 (11.5%)||29 (6.7%)||16 (3.7%)||7 (1.6%)||434|
|48 (9.3%)||166 (32.0%)||20 (3.9%)||
|113 (21.8%)||66 (12.7%)||30 (5.8%)||16 (3.1%)||14 (2.7%)||518|
|28 (5.4%)||14 (2.7%)||180 (34.7%)||30 (5.8%)||13 (2.5%)||49 (9.5%)||121 (23.4%)||34 (6.6%)||20 (3.9%)||17 (3.3%)||12 (2.3%)||518|
|27 (5.2%)||14 (2.7%)||45 (8.7%)||162 (31.3%)||20 (3.9%)||12 (2.3%)||27 (5.2%)||518|
|28 (4.9%)||198 (34.9%)||23 (4.1%)||19 (3.4%)||44 (7.8%)||156 (27.5%)||26 (4.6%)||27 (4.8%)||19 (3.4%)||27 (4.8%)||567|
|214 (34.2%)||27 (4.3%)||21 (3.4%)||42 (6.7%)||201 (32.1%)||
|42 (6.7%)||180 (28.8%)||48 (7.7%)||50 (8.0%)||233 (37.2%)||30 (4.8%)||16 (2.6%)||18 (2.9%)||9 (1.4%)||626|
|55 (7.0%)||232 (29.4%)||47 (6.0%)||67 (8.5%)||295 (37.4%)||30 (3.8%)||18 (2.3%)||44 (5.6%)||788|
|2004-2009 _||GUE/NGL||SPE||Greens/EFA||ALDE||EVP/ED||UEN||IND/DEM||ITS 2||NO||total|
|41 (5.6%)||200 (27.3%)||42 (5.8%)||88 (12.0%)||268 (36.7%)||27 (3.7%)||37 (5.1%)||29 (4.0%)||732|
|41 (5.2%)||217 (27.6%)||43 (5.5%)||100 (12.7%)||288 (36.7%)||44 (5.6%)||22 (2.8%)||30 (3.8%)||785|
|35 (4.8%)||184 (25.0%)||55 (7.5%)||84 (11.4%)||265 (36.0%)||55 (7.5%)||32 (4.4%)||27 (3.7%)||736|
|35 (4.6%)||195 (25.5%)||58 (7.3%)||83 (10.8%)||274 (35.8%)||57 (7.4%)||31 (4.0%)||33 (4.3%)||766|
|2014-2019 _||GUE/NGL||S&D||Greens/EFA||ALDE||EPP||ECR||EFDD 3||ENF||NO||total|
|52 (6.9%)||191 (25.4%)||50 (6.7%)||67 (8.9%)||221 (29.4%)||70 (9.3%)||48 (6.4%)||52 (6.9%)||751|
|52 (6.9%)||187 (24.9%)||52 (6.9%)||69 (9.2%)||216 (28.8%)||77 (10.3%)||42 (5.6%)||36 (4.8%)||20 (2.7%)||751|
|41 (5.5%)||154 (20.5%)||75 (10.0%)||108 (14.4%)||182 (24.2%)||62 (8.3%)||73(9.7%)||56 (7.5%)||751|
|145 (20.6%)||73 (10.4%)||101 (13.8%)||177 (24.8%)||64 (8.9%)||70 (10.5%)||36 (5.5%)||705|
Current composition of Parliament
The table below shows the composition of the European Parliament by national party as of 18 January 2022. For an overview of the parliamentarians in detail, see List of Members of the 9th European Parliament .
Bureau and Conference of Presidents
The Bureau of the European Parliament is elected by the MEPs from among themselves with an absolute majority. It consists of the Speaker of Parliament, 14 Vice-Presidents and five Quaestors .
The President of the Parliament represents the Parliament externally and chairs the plenary sessions, but can also be represented by the Vice-Presidents. The Bureau is also responsible for the administration of Parliament and its budget. The Quaestors, who only have an advisory vote in the Presidency, mainly take on administrative tasks that directly affect the MEPs.
The members of the Executive Committee are each elected for half a legislative period, i.e. for two and a half years. Until 1989, election to the post of President of Parliament was a relatively hotly contested post, sometimes requiring third and fourth rounds. It was not until 1989 that an agreement was reached between the EPP and the PES regarding the division of this post, which was then divided between the two large groups until 1999 and again since 2004, so that the parliament was divided between one social democrat and the other half of the legislative period other half chaired by an EPP member. Only in the period 1999-2004 was there a similar agreement between the EPP and the liberal ALDE group. In the first half of the legislative period from 2009 to 2014, the Pole Jerzy Buzek (EPP) was President of the Parliament, and in January 2012 the German Martin Schulz , who had been the leader of the Social Democrats since 2004, took office. The 14 Vice-Presidents came from the EPP (5), S&D (5), ALDE (2) and Greens/EFA (1) parliamentary groups, one Vice-President was non-attached. The five Quaestors were members of the EPP (2), S&D, ALDE and GUE-NGL (1 each).
Another important body for the organization of the European Parliament is the Conference of Presidents, which is made up of the President of the Parliament and the leaders of all political groups. The Conference of Presidents decides, inter alia, on the agenda of the plenary sessions and on the composition of the parliamentary committees.
President of the European Parliament since its inception
As is usual in parliaments, the MPs specialize in order to be able to deal with topics in a competent manner. They are sent by the political groups or the non-attached group to a total of 20 standing committees and three sub-committees, which are responsible for specific areas and prepare the work of the plenary sessions. In addition, Parliament has the option of setting up temporary committees and committees of inquiry. The Chairs of all committees together form the Conference of Committee Chairs , which can make proposals to the Conference of Presidents (i.e. the political group chairs) on the work of the committees and the drawing up of the agenda.
The official abbreviations of the committees set out in the following list are generally derived from the English or French designation.
|Human Rights (Subcommittee of AFET)||DROI|
|Security and Defense (Subcommittee of AFET)||SEDE|
|employment and social affairs||EMPL|
|internal market and consumer protection||IMCO|
|Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs||LOVE|
|industry, research and energy||ITRE|
|culture and education||CULT|
|Agriculture and Rural Development||AGRI|
|Women's rights and gender equality||FEMM|
|environmental issues, public health and food safety||ENVI|
|transport and tourism||TRANS|
|economy and currency||ECON|
|Tax Issues (ECON Subcommittee)||FISC|
In order to maintain relations with the parliaments of third countries and to promote the exchange of information with them, delegations have been set up in the European Parliament. Interparliamentary delegations are formed on a proposal from the Conference of Presidents. The interparliamentary meetings take place once a year at one of the European Parliament's places of work and in the respective third country.
These delegations play a special role in the accession process of a candidate country to the European Union. This is followed by a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) composed of a delegation from the European Parliament and a delegation from the candidate or associated country. At the meetings, the members of the delegations exchange information on their priorities and the implementation of the association agreements .
The EURO-NEST Parliamentary Assembly deals with the relations of the Eastern European countries with which the EU is linked through the Eastern Partnership . Within the framework of the Union for the Mediterranean , a delegation from the European Parliament also takes part in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean (PA-UfM).
A delegation from the European Parliament is also involved in the NATO Parliamentary Assembly .
In addition to these institutionalized forms of work, there are also informal cross-party groupings of MEPs. On the one hand, there are the so-called intergroups, which are intended to promote exchange on certain special topics and contact with civil society. In the 2009-2014 legislative period, these range from the topic of “water” to “ Tibet ” or “reindustrialization” to the “ Way of St. James ”. The intergroups receive certain, e.g. logistical, support from Parliament and must therefore meet certain minimum requirements, which are laid down in an internal regulation. However, unlike the committees, they are not organs of Parliament.
In addition, there are cross-party coalitions of MEPs who are completely independent of the parliamentary infrastructure and represent certain common positions. These include, for example, the Spinelli Group , which advocates European federalism and comprises around 100 MEPs from various parliamentary groups.
Parliament administration and assistants to MPs
The members of the European Parliament are supported in their work by the parliamentary administration: The General Secretariat is divided into twelve Directorates-General (not to be confused with the Directorates-General of the European Commission ) and the Legal Service. It is headed by a Secretary General , who since March 2009 has been the German Klaus Welle .
The Directorates-General that are closer to politics are located with their staff in Brussels , the others in Luxembourg . A little over two-thirds of the approximately 5,000 employees work here with around 3,500 employees, including many translators and non-meeting administrative services. The speaker of the European Parliament is the Spaniard Jaume Duch Guillot .
In total there are around 1400 assistants accredited to Parliament.
Elections to the European Parliament have been held every five years since 1979. The most recent election, the 2019 European Election , took place on May 23-26, 2019.
The deputies are elected separately for each member state. Citizens of the European Union are entitled to vote , either in their country of residence or in their country of origin. The precise electoral system is determined by national regulations in the individual member states; before the 2004 European elections , however, the states had to implement a directive that brought about a certain standardization of the electoral law. In all states, elections are now based on proportional representation, even if the exact form can vary from country to country.
Despite the ever-increasing influence of the European Parliament, voter turnout in European elections has always been declining: while it was still an average of 63.0% in the first direct elections in 1979 in the then member states, in 2009 only 43.0% of those entitled to vote went to the polls. In Germany, participation fell from 65.7% in 1979 to 43.3% in 2009 , in Austria from 67.7% ( 1996, the country's first European elections ) to 46.0% in the 2009 election . Turnout in European elections is traditionally particularly high in Belgium and Luxembourg (around 90%, voting is compulsory in both countries ) and in Italy (around 75%), and it is particularly low in the Netherlands and Great Britain (around 35%). Voter turnout was also relatively low in most of the ten Central and Eastern European countries that took part in the 2004 European elections for the first time. It was lowest in Slovakia (16.7% in 2004, 19.6% in 2009). One of the reasons for the low turnout could be the low presence of the European Parliament and European parties in the mass media . Since the election takes place separately by country, the election campaign before European elections often focuses on national rather than European political issues; The European elections often become a "sympathy meter" for the respective national government.
Allocation of seats by country
The number of seats distributed in the European elections in each Member State does not reflect all electoral votes equally: larger states generally have more MEPs than smaller states, although smaller states have more MEPs per inhabitant than larger states. This principle is referred to as “ degressive proportionality ”. It dates back to the early days of Parliament and has been maintained ever since. According to the key negotiated in the Treaty of Lisbon , the extreme cases are Germany as the most populous and Malta as the least populous country in the EU: Germany (83 million inhabitants) has 96 seats, i. H. one seat for 811,000 inhabitants, in Malta (0.4 million inhabitants) 6 seats, i. H. one seat per 67,000 inhabitants. On average, there is one seat for every 665,000 inhabitants across Europe. However, this calculation includes all residents of the country, including non-EU foreigners who do not have the right to vote in European elections. The ratios also change over time due to differences in population growth – which will not automatically lead to a reallocation of seats in the absence of treaty reform. Furthermore, the system does not take into account the different voter turnout in different countries, which causes a further distortion of the voting weight. For example, in the 2009 European elections , the Italian PdL needed around 10.8 million votes for 29 seats (372,000 votes per seat), the Slovakian KDH around 90,000 votes for 2 seats (45,000 votes per seat). In comparison, the German CDU got around 8.1 million votes for 34 seats (238,000 votes per seat).
Electoral reform to change the distribution of seats
The regulation of degressive proportionality is intended to ensure that the diversity of parties in the smaller states is also represented in the European Parliament, for which a certain minimum size of the national delegations is necessary. Conversely, if the votes from the large countries were weighted accordingly, the European Parliament would no longer assume a workable size. Of course, the principle of degressive proportionality contradicts the principle of electoral equality , according to which every vote should have the same weight. In of the EU Treaty , the electoral principles are consequently only stated: "The members of the European Parliament are elected in general, direct, free and secret elections for a term of five years." This distribution is at the core of the principle of state equality owed, which is in a certain tension with the principle of civil equality according to EU Treaty. For these reasons, alternatives to European electoral law were repeatedly discussed, in particular the introduction of pan-European party lists that would eliminate the allocation of seats by country. However, such a reform would require an adjustment of the EU treaties, which would have to be ratified by all member states.
In April 2011, the European Parliament 's Committee on Constitutional Affairs presented a concrete proposal for such an electoral law reform, which, while not abolishing the national seat quotas, is intended to add further seats for pan-European lists.
However, the vote on the proposal in the European Parliament was postponed again on July 7, 2011 and referred back to committee. The main point of contention is whether the parliament should be expanded by 25 additional seats to accommodate the transnational MEPs or whether the seats should be taken from the national lists.
In the 2014 European elections, Croatia was part of the EU for the first time. According to a result of the accession negotiations, Croatia received twelve seats in parliament from July 1, 2013 until the 2014 European elections. These seats were taken from other member states for the 2014 European elections in order to reach the contractually agreed number of 751 mandates. In this context, Germany lost three seats and twelve other countries (including Croatia itself) lost one seat each.
The following table shows the evolution of the seats per member state since the founding of the Parliament.
|country / year||1952
||1979 A /
|2004 D /
||Seats per 1 million
headquarters and places of work
The seat of the European Parliament is in Strasbourg , where twelve four-day plenary sessions are held each year. However, Parliament's committees and groups meet in Brussels , where two-day plenary sessions are also held up to six times a year. The General Secretariat of the Parliament is based in Luxembourg .
The multitude of working places of the parliament goes back to its historical development and was controversial from the beginning. The founding treaties of the European Communities provided that the seat of the institutions should be determined by a unanimous decision of the Foreign Ministers in the General Affairs Council . When the ECSC was founded in 1951, Luxembourg was initially intended as the seat of all institutions. However, this posed a problem for the Parliamentary Assembly of the ECSC, the forerunner of the European Parliament, due to the lack of sufficiently large premises in Luxembourg. The deputies therefore switched to the meeting room of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.
After the founding of the EEC and Euratom in 1957, whose Commission and Council met in Brussels, part of the parliamentary activities were also relocated to Brussels. As early as 1958, the European Parliament called for a uniform seat for all community bodies and suggested Brussels, Strasbourg or Milan. However, the foreign ministers did not come to an agreement, so that a provisional solution with several places of work remained.
In the period that followed, Parliament's activities were increasingly shifted from Strasbourg to Brussels in order to bring it closer to the Commission and the Council. The three communities ECSC, EEC and Euratom were finally united by the merger treaty of 1965 and the meeting locations were also redistributed. As the former ECSC bodies from Luxembourg no longer existed, the Member States decided to transfer the administration of the European Parliament to Luxembourg as compensation. The parliamentary activities were thus distributed over three places of work. The complete abandonment of one of the sites has been blocked by the respective national governments of those countries.
After years of conflict between Belgium and France, the 1992 Edinburgh Summit decided that Strasbourg, the official seat of Parliament, would hold 12 plenary sessions a year, while committee and political group meetings would be held in Brussels. This agreement was then enshrined in the 1997 Amsterdam Treaty .
In 1999, a new plenary chamber of Parliament was completed in Strasbourg. As a rule, MEPs, parliamentary staff and parliamentary officials spend their time in Strasbourg from Monday to Thursday of the respective plenary week.
The European Parliament occupies 660,000 square meters of office space in Brussels, spread over 18 buildings. A conversion or new construction of the main building, for around 350 million euros, is being considered.
Criticism of the workplace
However, because of the financial and environmental costs of “commuting” parliamentarians between different places of work, discussions about this are revived again and again. Since 2006, MEPs have tried to move the seat to Brussels through public initiatives. The best-known example of this is the oneseat.eu campaign led by former Swedish MP and former Commissioner (until December 2019) Cecilia Malmström .
According to a study, in 2011 91% of MEPs were for Brussels as the only seat. A cross-party working group is working on various proposals to find a compromise with France, including proposing that other European institutions such as the European Council or the European Court of Justice go to Strasbourg relocate Other MEPs, such as Bernd Posselt and the “Campaign for European Democracy” he supports, advocated strengthening Parliament's work in Strasbourg.
The costs of maintaining the three places of work were reduced from 203 million to 155 million euros through rationalization measures between 2002 and 2007.
The travel costs for assistants and officials to and from Strasbourg amounted to 22.6 million euros in 2011. There is also a loss of time. A leaked document from the European Parliament concludes that nearly 70,000 working days are lost every year traveling to and from Strasbourg.
According to a report in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung , the travel costs are currently (2013) estimated in a report by the EU Parliament at around 200 million euros, which corresponds to around 10% of the total budget of the Parliament. 5000 people are transported monthly, as well as eight trucks with files alone. The resulting CO 2 emissions are estimated at 19,000 tons per year. Although the building in Strasbourg is only used 42 days a year, it needs to be heated all year round. The constant commuting between Brussels and Strasbourg has “become a negative symbol of the EU”.
In his book Der Zerfall, the American journalist William Drozdiak, former chief correspondent of the Washington Post and long-time President of the American Council on Germany, criticized the commuting between the Parliament's places of work as a "parliamentary traveling circus" and compared the tower-like parliament building in Strasbourg, the Louise -Weiss building, but also the supposedly prevailing " Babylonian confusion " about the objectives of the European Union , with the biblical story of the Tower of Babel . The author was "eerily reminded" of its depiction by the Flemish painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder .
The history of the European Parliament begins as early as 1952 within the framework of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), one of the predecessor organizations of the EU. Originally intended only as a largely powerless control body vis-à-vis the High Authority , over time the Parliament has been able to approximate the functions of comparable national parliaments and, compared to before, has extensive rights in the political system of the EU . These rights have been gradually expanded in the course of EU treaty reforms since the 1980s and through various interinstitutional agreements between the EU institutions.
The Common Assembly of the ECSC 1952-1957
From September 10th to 13th, 1952, within the framework of the ECSC, the Parliamentary Assembly met for the first time , which was provided for in the ECSC Treaty under the name Common Assembly, and whose assigned task according to Article 20 should only be control: [p She exercises the powers of control to which she is entitled under this contract . The assembly consisted of 78 national deputies elected by the respective national parliaments . The assembly's electoral procedures and competencies were modeled on the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe , which had been founded three years earlier. The possibilities of the Common Assembly were limited to the debate of the annual report, which the High Authority had to deliver annually. During this debate, however, she also had the right to force the High Authority of the ECSC to resign with a vote of no confidence by a two-thirds majority. From the outset, cooperation within the assembly was not based on national origin, but on the political orientation of the parliamentarians, so that the first factions were formed as early as 1953. In the same year, the first committees were founded, which roughly reflect the structure of the High Authority and should therefore accompany its work in terms of content. The first assembly included 38 Christian Democrats, 23 Socialist and Social Democrats and 11 Liberal members, 6 parliamentarians remained non-attached. The members of the assembly were not only experienced parliamentarians, but also often those members of the national parliaments who showed the most enthusiasm for Europe and therefore also had a clear interest in the further development of the assembly. The first President of the Common Assembly was Belgian Paul-Henri Spaak .
The European Parliament since 1957
In 1957, the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) were founded with the Treaty of Rome . The ECSC Parliamentary Assembly was now responsible for all three communities and was enlarged to 142 deputies. It was not given any new powers, but nevertheless gave itself the name European Parliament (which was only officially recognized by the individual states in 1986). When the European Communities received their own funds in 1971 , the Assembly was involved in drawing up and approving the budget - but not in the area of so-called "compulsory expenditure", i. H. most notably the spending on the Common Agricultural Policy , which at the time accounted for around 90% of the total budget. In the 1970s, these limited competences of Parliament and a general disinterest in Germany led to taunting sayings such as “ If you have a grandfather, send him to Europe ”: According to many German commentators, the main function of the European Parliament at the time was to give old politicians a politically insignificant role to provide supplies. In other countries, such as France or Italy, a mandate in the European Parliament was seen as a career springboard for political talent.
Since the late 1970s, the European Parliament has gradually gained in importance. In 1979 the first direct European elections were held, in which the citizens themselves could choose the parliament. Although this was not initially associated with an extension of its responsibilities, it did give Parliament better legitimacy and greater self-confidence in relation to the other EC institutions. This went so far that in 1984 a parliamentary committee headed by Altiero Spinelli drew up a federalist draft treaty for a new European Union, in which the European Parliament was to play a central role. This draft was not accepted by the governments of the member states, but in 1986 the Single European Act actually gave Parliament an important extension of its powers: With the so-called cooperation procedure , it was now involved in general legislation and could officially propose amendments Draft legislation, even if the Council of Ministers still had the last word . This changed – at least in some policy areas – with the next major step in expanding Parliament’s powers, the Maastricht Treaty of 1992. In this, the so-called co -decision procedure was introduced for some policy areas, in which Parliament was given equal status with the Council. It was still unable to push through a bill against the will of the council; however, nothing could be decided without Parliament. It was also given the right to set up independent investigative committees , which greatly expanded its control options. Finally, the most recent treaty reforms of Amsterdam in 1997 and Nice in 2001 have extended the codecision procedure so that it now applies to a large part of the European Union's policy areas. Important exceptions were only the common agricultural policy and police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters , which were only included in the co-decision procedure (now renamed ordinary legislative procedure) by the Lisbon Treaty in 2007 . In addition, this treaty gave Parliament full sovereignty over the expenditure side of the EU budget – i.e. also over the “mandatory expenditure”, which had recently accounted for around 40% of the total budget.
Every year since 1988, the European Parliament has awarded the Sakharov Prize to a person or organization committed to defending human rights. The prize is named after the Russian physicist and human rights activist Andrei Sakharov and is endowed with 50,000 euros. In 2008, despite warnings from China, the award was given to the imprisoned Chinese human rights activist Hu Jia , and in 2009 to the Russian human rights organization Memorial . Other award winners so far have included Leyla Zana , Aung San Suu Kyi , Kofi Annan and the United Nations .
In 2005, the European Parliament received the Austrian Big Brother Award in the positive category "Defensor Libertatis" for rejecting a draft on the patentability of software and for refusing to pass on passenger data from air travel to the USA.
On October 14, 2011, the Parliamentarium was opened by the then President of the European Parliament , Jerzy Buzek , after four years of planning and construction . It is the largest visitor center of a parliament in Europe .
On November 28, 2019, the European Parliament declared a climate emergency .
Costs, cost development, employees
The annual costs of Parliament amounted to 1.69 billion euros in 2011, an increase of 18.1% since 2009. For 2012 it was 1.725 billion euros, an increase of 2.5%. 5% of the EU budget is spent on maintaining the institutions, 1% of the budget on Parliament. From 2004 to 2012, the number of Parliament staff increased from 3942 to 6245:
- 1935 of the staff are executives (AD, administrators). They are divided into 12 service levels, AD 5 to AD 16.
- 2749 employees are assistants (AST). They are busy with office work.
- 1,561 employees are temporary, contract (formerly auxiliary) and special advisors.
1000 of these parliamentary staff earn more than one MEP.
In 2014, in the course of the European elections, it became known that the then President of Parliament, Martin Schulz, received a daily allowance of 304 euros for 365 days in addition to his salary of around 200,000 euros. The president receives these 110,000 euros without having to attend meetings. Vice-Presidents do not receive a special allowance but are entitled to an additional assistant.
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