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European Parliament

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The European Parliament is the European Union’s law-making body. It is directly elected by EU voters every 5 years. It is a directly-elected EU body with legislative, supervisory, and budgetary responsibilities.

The European Parliament is made up of 705 MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) elected in the 27 Member States of the enlarged European Union.

European Parliament 

What does the European Parliament do?

The Parliament has 3 main roles:


  • Passing EU laws, together with the Council of the EU, based on European Commission proposals
  • Deciding on international agreements
  • Deciding on enlargements
  • Reviewing the Commission’s work program and asking it to propose legislation


  • Democratic scrutiny of all EU institutions
  • Electing the Commission President and approving the Commission as a body. Possibility of voting a motion of censure, obliging the Commission to resign
  • Granting discharge, i.e. approving the way EU budgets have been spent
  • Examining citizens’ petitions and setting up inquiries
  • Discussing monetary policy with the European Central Bank
  • Questioning Commission and Council
  • Election observations


  • Establishing the EU budget, together with the Council
  • Approving the EU’s long-term budget, the “Multiannual Financial Framework”

How is the European Parliament structured?

The number of MEPs for each country is roughly proportionate to its population, but this is by degressive proportionality: no country can have fewer than 6 or more than 96 MEPs and the total number cannot exceed 705 (704 plus the President).

MEPs are grouped by political affiliation, not by nationality.

The President represents Parliament to other EU institutions and the outside world and gives the final go-ahead to the EU budget.

How many seats does each country get in in the European Parliament?

The distribution of seats in the European Parliament has been modified following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. 

Starting February 1, 2020, the European Parliament counts 705 seats compared with 751 (the maximum allowed under the EU treaties) before the UK’s withdrawal from the EU on 31 January 2020.

Twenty-seven of the UK’s 73 seats have been redistributed to other countries, while the remaining 46 seats will be kept in reserve for potential future enlargements.

In line with the electoral act of 1976, EU countries have to notify the names to the European Parliament before the mandates can officially commence.

How does the European Parliament work?

Parliament’s work comprises two main stages:

  1. Committees to prepare legislation.
    The Parliament numbers 20 committees and two subcommittees, each handling a particular policy area. The committees examine proposals for legislation, and MEPs and political groups can put forward amendments or propose to reject a bill. These issues are also debated within the political groups.
  2. Plenary sessions pass legislation.
    This is when all the MEPs gather in the chamber to give a final vote on the proposed legislation and the proposed amendments. Normally held in Strasbourg for four days a month, but sometimes there are additional sessions in Brussels.