The European Parliament: Voice of the people


The European Parliament is elected every five years by the people of Europe to represent their interests.

The present parliament, elected in June 2004, has 732 members from all 25 EU countries. Nearly one third of them (222) are women.

The main job of Parliament is to pass European laws. It shares this responsibility with the Council of the European Union, and the proposals for new laws come from the European Commission. Parliament and Council also share joint responsibility for approving the EU’s €100 billion annual budget.

Parliament has the power to dismiss the European Commission.

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) do not sit in national blocks, but in seven Europe-wide political groups. The largest of these are the centre-right European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), followed by the Socialists, the Liberals and the Greens. Between them, MEPs represent all views on European integration, from the strongly pro-federalist to the openly Eurosceptic.

The main meetings of the Parliament are held in Strasbourg, others in Brussels. Like all other EU institutions, it works in all 20 official EU languages.

The Parliament elects the European Ombudsman, who investigates citizens’ complaints about maladministration by the EU institutions.

European Union
The European Parliament
The European Investment Bank
Council of Europe
Origins and membership
Political aims
How it works
Ordinary budget
Some practical achievements
The pan-European dimension