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European Parliament
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European Parliament

The European Parliament is the parliamentary body of the European Union.

Other organisations of European countries such as NATO, the OSCE, the Council of Europe, and the Western European Union have parliamentary assemblies as well, but the European Parliament is unique in that it is directly elected by the people and has legislative power. The members of the parliamentary assemblies of the OSCE, the Council of Europe, and the Western European Union are appointed by national parliaments.

Table of contents
1 Location
2 History
3 Party Groups in the European Parliament
4 Representation
5 See also
6 External links

Location

Although the two institutions of the EU's executive, the European Commission and the European Council, both have their seats in Brussels, a protocol attached to the Treaty of Amsterdam requires the European Parliament to have monthly sessions in Strasbourg. For practical reasons, however, all preparatory legislative work and committee meetings of the parliament take place in Brussels. The parliament only spends four days per month in Strasbourg in order to take the final, plenary votes. Additional plenary meetings are held in Brussels. On several occasions parliament has expressed a wish to choose itself the location of its seat, but in the successive treaties, including the newest Treaty of Nice, European governments keep reserving this right for themselves.

History

The European Coal and Steel Community established a Common Assembly in September, 1952, its members drawn from the six national Parliaments of the ECSC's constituent nations. This was expanded in March 1958 to cover also the European Economic Community and Euratom, immediately adopted the name European Parliamentary Assembly, and used the name European Parliament from 1962. In 1979 it was expanded again with its members being directly elected. Thereafter it was simply expanded whenever new nations joined, and the membership was adjusted (upwards) in 1994 after German Reunification, until the Treaty of Nice set a cap on membership at 732.

Growth of membership

  Sep
1952
Mar
1957
Jan
1973
Jun
1979
Jan
1981
Jan
1986
Jun
1994
Jan
1995
May
2004
Jun
2004
Jan
2007
Jun
2009
Germany 18 36 36 81 81 81 99 99 99 99 99 99
France 18 36 36 81 81 81 87 87 87 78 78 72
Italy 18 36 36 81 81 81 87 87 87 78 78 72
Belgium 10 14 14 24 24 24 25 25 25 24 24 22
Netherlands 10 14 14 25 25 25 31 31 31 27 27 25
Luxembourg 4 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6
United Kingdom     36 81 81 81 87 87 87 78 78 72
Denmark     10 16 16 16 16 16 16 14 14 13
Ireland     10 15 15 15 15 15 15 13 13 12
Greece         24 24 25 25 25 24 24 22
Spain           60 64 64 64 54 54 50
Portugal           24 25 25 25 24 24 22
Sweden               22 22 19 19 18
Austria               21 21 18 18 17
Finland               16 16 14 14 13
Poland                 54 54 54 50
Czech Republic                 24 24 24 20
Hungary                 24 24 24 20
Slovakia                 14 14 14 13
Lithuania                 13 13 13 12
Latvia                 9 9 9 8
Slovenia                 7 7 7 7
Cyprus                 6 6 6 6
Estonia                 6 6 6 6
Malta                 5 5 5 5
Romania                     33 33
Bulgaria                     17 17
TOTAL 78 142 198 410 434 518 567 626 788 732 782 732

Party Groups in the European Parliament

At the commencement of Parliament's sixth term (2004-2009), there were seven groups, plus Non-Inscrits (non-aligned members). As of July 21, 2004 the composition of the Parliament was:

The makeup of Parliament's groups is fairly fluid, and delegations (or indeed individual Members) are free to switch allegiances as they see fit.

European Parliament party groups are distinct from the corresponding political parties, although they are intimately linked. Usually, the European parties also have member parties from European countries which are not members of the European Union.

Representation

Relative influence of voters from different countries
according to the Treaty of Nice after new member countries joined (Source: Spiegel Online):
Country pop (mio.)  MEPs  pop/MEP  rel. influence

Luxembourg 0.4     6 66667 12.42
Malta 0.4     5 80000 10.53
Cyprus 0.8     6 133333 6.21
Estonia 1.4     6 233333 3.54
Slovenia 2.0     7 285714 2.89
Latvia 2.4     9 266667 3.10
Ireland 3.7     13 284615 2.91
Lithuania 3.7     13 284615 2.91
Finland 5.2     14 371429 2.22
Denmark 5.3     14 378571 2.18
Slovakia 5.4     14 385714 2.14
Austria 8.1     18 450000 1.84
Sweden 8.9     19 468421 1.76
Portugal 9.9     24 412500 2.00
Hungary 10.0     24 416667 1.98
Belgium 10.2     24 425000 1.94
Czech Republic 10.3     24 429167 1.92
Greece 10.6     24 441667 1.87
Netherlands 15.8     27 585185 1.41
Poland 38.6     54 714815 1.15
Spain 39.4     54 729630 1.13
Italy 57.7     78 739744 1.11
France 59.1     78 757692 1.09
United Kingdom 59.4     78 761538 1.08
Germany 82.1     99 828283 1.00

Total 450.8     732 615846 1.35
Romania 21,6     33 654545 1.26
Bulgaria 7,6     17 447058 1.85

The European Parliament represents 450 million citizens of the European Union. Since 13 June 2004, there are 732 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), with a proportionally larger representation for smaller member states. This number was temporarily raised to 788 to accommodate representatives from the ten states that joined the EU on 1 May 2004, but will remain fixed at 732 even after the accession of Romania and Bulgaria in 2007.

Elections

Elections to the parliament are held using various forms of proportional representation, as selected by the member states. These forms include regional and national lists and Single Transferable Vote.

The most recent elections were held on 10-13 June 2004. Following the enlargement of the Union on 1 May, they were the largest simultaneous transnational elections ever held in the world, with nearly 400 million citizens eligible to vote.

See also

External links