Group in the European Parliament
|Political groups in the European Parliament|
|EPP||Christian Democrats , Conservatives||187|
|S&D||Socialists , Social Democrats||146|
|Renew||Liberals , centrists||98|
|ID||Right-wing populists , right-wing extremists||76|
|Greens / EFA||Greens , regionalists||68|
|EKR||Conservatives , EU skeptics||62|
|GUE-NGL||Left , communists , left- wing soc.||39|
|As of February 1, 2020|
The political groups in the European Parliament are made up of MEPs with similar political views. The European Parliament (EP) distinguishes itself from the existing supranational institutions in that it is not organized along national groups, but on the basis of ideological groups . In the 2019 to 2024 electoral period, there are seven parliamentary groups, 29 members of which are non-attached.
In general, the parliamentary groups are made up of members of one or more European parties . In addition, there are MPs who do not belong to any European party.
Requirements for forming a parliamentary group
The constitution as a parliamentary group brings the MPs various advantages, in particular further financial allowances and additional parliamentary rights such as the possibility to introduce resolutions .
The requirements for forming a political group in the European Parliament are set out in Rule 32 of the European Parliament's Rules of Procedure . Accordingly, since 2009, at least 25 MEPs from at least a quarter (i.e. seven) of the member states are required. Membership in two parliamentary groups is not possible. Should a parliamentary group become smaller in the course of a legislative period as a result of the resignation of members, it may retain the status of a parliamentary group provided it still has members from at least one fifth (i.e. six) of the member states and has previously existed as a group for at least one year.
The minimum requirements for a parliamentary group have been adjusted several times, partly due to the enlargement of the parliament. Until 1999, a parliamentary group could consist of members of one country (at least 26 members in 1994). The Forza Europa Group (1994–1995) only had MPs from Italy. The minimum numbers were graded according to the number of countries involved: 23 members from two countries, 18 members from three countries or 14 members from four countries. In 1999 MEPs from two countries were agreed as a minimum requirement. In 2007, the minimum requirement was 20 MEPs from one fifth of the Member States, i.e. six countries. After the formation of the - albeit short-lived - right-wing extremist parliamentary group ITS , the minimum requirement was increased to 25 members (3% of the MEPs) from a quarter of the countries after the 2009 European elections on the initiative of the two largest groups ( EPP-ED and SPE ) . H. seven states, tightened. This tightening of the requirements was intended to make it more difficult for left and right-wing radical groups to form and to prevent parliament from being split up into many very small groups.
In addition, parliamentary groups must have a common ideological orientation, so there can be no “mixed” or “technical” parliamentary groups through which non-attached MPs could join forces for the purpose of securing the privileges of group status without actually working together. Such a mixed group existed until 2001, but was then dissolved after a judgment of the European Court of Justice . As a rule, however, the Presidium of Parliament does not check whether the parties of a parliamentary group actually share a common worldview. Only if the group members themselves deny their political affiliation can this be a reason for the group's dissolution.
Organization of political groups
Group discipline is much less pronounced in the European Parliament than in most national parliaments in the EU. This means that traditionally there is often inconsistent voting behavior within the parliamentary groups, as individual members of the parliament or regional groups differ from the majority behavior of the parliamentary group. However, uniformity within the parliamentary groups has increased significantly since the expansion of competencies and the “professionalization” of Parliament in the 1990s.
Each political group appoints a group chairman (usually called the “President”, “Coordinator” or “Spokesperson”) who expresses the group's positions externally. The boards of the various parliamentary groups together with the President of the European Parliament form the so-called “Conference of Presidents”, which among other things drafts the agenda for the parliamentary sessions.
Many groups are based on one or more European parties, for example the EPP group or the Greens / EFA group. Practically all political groups, however, also have members who are without a party at European level.
Those parliamentary groups that are made up of several European parties usually have their own working groups, each of which includes MEPs from the same European party. Below the parliamentary group level, MEPs usually organize themselves in national delegations , each of which includes the members of a national party. The delegation leaders are usually the top candidates of the respective party in the European elections .
Current political groups in the European Parliament
|fraction||Germany||Austria||Luxembourg||South-Tirol||German speaking community|
|EPP||29 (23 CDU , 6 CSU )||ÖVP )7 (||CSV )2 (||SVP )1 (||CSP )1 (|
|S&D||16 ( SPD )||SPÖ )5 (||LSAP )1 (||-||-|
|Renew||FDP , 2 free voters )7 (5||NEOS )1 (||DP )2 (||-||-|
|ID||11 ( AfD )||FPÖ )3 (||-||-||-|
|Greens / EFA||25 (21 Greens , 1 Pirate each , ÖDP , Volt , The Party )||green )3 (||Gréng )1 (||-||-|
|EKR||family )1 (||-||-||-||-|
|GUE / NGL||left )6 (||-||-||-||-|
|non-attached||The Party , Animal Welfare Party )2 (||-||-||-||-|
|All in all||96||19th||6th||1||1|
For the composition of the parliamentary groups according to national parties, see Composition of the European Parliament by Member State .
Since the European Parliament - unlike national parliaments - does not elect a government in the traditional sense, the contrast between the governing coalition and opposition factions is less pronounced here. Instead of confrontation, there is broad consensus among the major groups. Also, never before has a single political group obtained an absolute majority in the European Parliament; However, there was always a majority of 50 to 70% for the “ grand coalition ” made up of the conservative Christian Democratic EPP and the social democratic S&D . These factions traditionally dominate the action. Until 1999 the Social Democrats made up the largest group, since then the EPP.
This informal grand coalition is reinforced by the institutional regulations for EU lawmaking : Since the ordinary legislative procedure requires an absolute majority of the elected (not present) members of the European Parliament to pass a resolution in the second reading, in Parliament in fact only the EVP and S&D jointly organize the necessary majorities. Smaller coalitions would have to ensure that almost all members of the coalition factions regularly take part in the plenary sessions, which is hardly possible in everyday parliamentary life.
A clear characteristic of the informal grand coalition is also its agreement to split up the five-year mandate of the President of Parliament , so that Parliament is headed by a Social Democrat for half of the legislative period and an EPP member for the other half. However, 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 therefore still made with changing majorities from different political groups, also because of the fact that parliamentary groups are not compulsory, albeit almost always on the basis of a compromise between EPP and S&D.
The practice of the grand coalition is criticized by the members of the smaller parliamentary groups, particularly by the Liberals and Greens / EFA . During the 1999-2004 legislative period, the corruption scandal surrounding the Santer Commission led to a break in the grand coalition and cooperation between EPP and liberals. In the discussion about the appointment of Rocco Buttiglione as Justice Commissioner in 2004, however, the EPP and the Liberals distanced themselves from each other again, so that - despite the differences between the EPP and S&D - a new informal “grand coalition” emerged. Before the European elections in 2009 , Graham Watson , leader of the Liberals group, announced his goal of participating with his group in a stable coalition with the EPP or S&D in the next legislative period. However, the election result did not allow such a “small coalition”, since neither EPP and ALDE, nor S&D and ALDE alone have a majority.
The first three political groups were formed in the first days after the founding of the European Parliament in 1952. These were the Social Democratic Group (today the Progressive Alliance of Social Democrats , S&D), the Christian Democratic Group (today EPP ) and the Group of Liberals and Allies (from which the ELDR party emerged , which is now part of the Renew faction). They became an official part of Parliament in 1953 with the adoption of the first Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament . An important point here was the election of the first speaker of parliament. The Belgian Paul-Henri Spaak declared his willingness to run against Heinrich von Brentano only on the condition that all socialist representatives in the assembly voted for him as one. This increased the formation of political groups, which Spaak later promoted in his role as president.
In the further development of the parliament, new groups emerged. National conservative Gaullist MPs from France left the Liberal Group in 1965 and founded the Group of the European Democratic Union (not to be confused with the Christian Democratic-conservative party alliance of the same name, EDU , which was founded in 1978). This continued to exist under different names and with different member parties and formed the core of the UEN , which existed until 2009. The Italian party Forza Italia formed a special case , which in 1994/95 formed its own parliamentary group called Forza Europa for several months before joining the UEN and in 1999 the EPP.
After the accession of Denmark and Great Britain in 1973, the Conservative Group was formed, which renamed itself to the Group of the European Democrats (ED) in 1979 and merged with the EPP to form the EPP-ED Group from 1992 to 2009 . After the European elections in 2009 , the ED parties left this joint group and, together with former UEN members, founded the group of European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR).
In 1973 a communist parliamentary group was established in the European Parliament for the first time . This split in 1989 into two political groups, one of which dissolved in 1993 after its Italian member party joined the PES. After several name changes, the remaining parliamentary group finally formed the core of today's European Left Party (EL). After Finland and Sweden joined in 1995, the Scandinavian left parties formed their own alliance (the Nordic Green Left ), which, however, formed a group with the EL ( United European Left / Nordic Green Left ).
In 1984 the so-called “rainbow” faction was formed between the European Greens and various regional parties that had come together in the European Free Alliance (EFA) to work for greater political decentralization . In 1989, however, the Greens left this alliance and formed their own parliamentary group. The remaining members of the “rainbow” formed the “Radical Alliance” in 1994 with a group of French and Italian left-liberal parties that had split off from the ELDR parliamentary group. In 1999, however, this radical liberal group broke up: While the regional parties of the EFA again joined a joint group with the Greens ( The Greens / European Free Alliance in the European Parliament ), the left-wing liberal parties returned to the ELDR group. In 2004, however, they founded their own European party (the EDP ), which now formally forms a parliamentary group with the ELDR called the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE).
In 1984 a right-wing extremist group emerged in the European Parliament for the first time, the Group of the European Right . However, this proved to be unstable, as the mutual nationalistic reservations of its members made it difficult to work with MPs from other states. In order to break away from supranational cooperation and underline the purely pragmatic character of the alliance, the group renamed itself in 1989 the Technical Group of the European Right ; In 1994 it collapsed completely. In 2007 there was a new attempt to found a right-wing extremist parliamentary group under the name Identity, Tradition, Sovereignty (ITS), which, however, disbanded after only a few months. Another attempt to found a parliamentary group after the 2014 European elections initially failed, but in July 2015 a new parliamentary group was founded under the name Europe of Nations and Freedom .
In 1994 a Eurosceptic parliamentary group was finally founded in the European Parliament for the first time , which, after several changes and name changes, became what is today the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) parliamentary group .
From 1979 to 1984 and from 1999 to 2001 there were also so-called “technical” or “mixed” fractions. This included MPs from various political currents who did not join any other parliamentary group, but did not want to forego the advantages of group status. This corresponds to the parliamentary practice of some European countries, but is not permitted under the rules of procedure of the European Parliament . After a ruling by the European Court of Justice , the Technical Group of Independent MEPs was therefore dissolved in 2001.
The following table lists the distribution of the members of the European Parliament among the political groups (absolute numbers and percentages) since 1979, at the beginning and at the end of the legislative period.
Christian Democrats /
Cons. / Eurosceptic
|Right-wing extremists||Non-attached||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|
|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%)||LDR 45 (8.7%)||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|
|13 (2.5%)||SPE 198 (38.2%)||27 (5.2%)||14 (2.7%)||45 (8.7%)||162 (31.3%)||20 (3.9%)||12 (2.3%)||27 (5.2%)||518|
|1994 -1999||GUE||SPE||G||ERA||ELDR||EPP / ED||RDE||FE||EN||NI||total|
|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|
|GUE / NGL 34 (5.4%)||214 (34.2%)||27 (4.3%)||21 (3.4%)||42 (6.7%)||201 (32.1%)||UFE 34 (5.4%)||I-EN 15 (2.4%)||38 (6.1%)||626|
|1999 -2004||GUE / NGL||SPE||Greens / EFA||ELDR||EPP / ED||UEN||EDD||TDI||NI||total|
|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||EPP / ED||UEN||IND / DEM||ITS 1||NI||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|
|2009 -2014||GUE / NGL||S&D||Greens / EFA||ALDE||EPP||ECR||EVS||NI||total|
|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 2||ENF||NI||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|
|since 2019||GUE / NGL||S&D||Greens / EFA||RE||EPP||ECR||ID||NI||total|
|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|
|39 (5.6%)||146 (21.0%)||68(9.6%)||98 (13.4%)||187 (26.5%)||62 (8.7%)||76 (10.8%)||29 (4.1%)||705|
- Franz C. Heidelberg: The European Parliament . Verlag August Lutzeyer, Baden-Baden 1959.
- Volker Neßler: European decision-making. The political groups in the European Parliament between national interests, party politics and European integration . Wochenschau-Verlag, Schwalbach 1997, ISBN 3-87920-493-4 .
- Websites of all political groups in the European Parliament
- Representation of the political groups by their chairmen in videos on EuroparlTV
- Article 32 - Formation of political groups of the Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament 8th parliamentary term - September 2015. Further, the fractions relevant provisions are found in Articles 33-36 (Chapter 4 fractions of Title I). In the 7th electoral term - December 2009, Article 30 - formation of the political groups of the then rules of procedure was relevant. Further, the relevant provisions fractions were found in the Articles 31-34 (Chapter 4 fractions of Title I). The European Parliament's rules of procedure are available at www.europarl.europa.eu of the European Parliament.
- David Judge, David Earnshaw (2008): The European Parliament. Palgeave, MacMillian, 2nd ed.
- After an increase in the minimum number due to the EC expansion in 1995 to at least 29 MPs, Forza Europe merged with the parliamentary group of the European Democrats .
- The full text of the :
- Interview: European Parliament needs 'ideological coalition' ( Memento from May 4, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
- See Heidelberg 1959, p. 32
- Previous elections. In: The Parliament. Retrieved July 9, 2019 .