Sunday, August 18, 2019

EP close up / Organisation

In accordance with the Lisbon Treaty, the EP is made up of 751 members. Since 1979 MEPs have been elected in direct elections in all member states for five-year terms.

The number of mandates in the EP is allocated depending on the member state’s population. Germany has the highest number of MEPs – 96. The lowest number (6) is allocated to the smallest countries: Luxemburg, Cyprus, Estonia, Malta. The EP debates in 24 official languages. 

Political groups 

MEPs are grouped according to their political beliefs, not to a nationality. To create a political group there must be 25 MEPs representing at least a quarter of members states.  

Currently, there are 8 such groups:

European People’s Party (EPP)

Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D)

European Conservatives and Reformists

Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe

European United Left – Nordic Green Left

Greens European Free Alliance 

Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy

Europe of Nations and Freedom

An MEP can be a member of one political group. Every group is responsible for its own internal organisation, appoints its president and the board, as well as the secretary office.  

President of the EP

The EP’s works of the EP are led by a president elected for a 2,5-year period (a half of the EP term). The president represents the EP outside and among other EU institutions. His/her role is to represent the EP in the other EU institutions, to control the activities of the EP and its bodies, to organize the plenary assemblies and keep a watchful eye on the work and adherence to rules. The president is supported by 14 deputies. 

Plenary Session

The Parliament meets once a month (with the exception of August) for a four-day plenary session which last from Monday to Thursday. Works are carried out in three locations: plenary sessions are held in Strasbourg and Brussels, while the main session and administrative offices are in Luxembourg.

In the plenary room, places are assigned to MEPs according to their political affiliation, from the left to the right side, after being given permission by the head of the group. MEPs without party affiliation take their places as a non-inscrit members. 

A session starts on Monday at 5 p.m. During the opening, the president informs the MEPs about the procedures, schedule corrections, etc. Later, there is time for one-minute speeches on any matter of major interest to EU policy. Afterward the agenda continues.

The session’s second day session, Tuesday, starts in the morning and lasts until late afternoon. In the beginning, MEPs recognize motions on emergency legislation procedures for its legislative proposals from the Commission and the Council. Votes on the topics from the previous day are carried out in the afternoon.  

Wednesday is the time for main votes, in particular those which need an absolute majority. The votes last from 11.30 a.m. until 1 p.m.

On Thursday, MEPs vote on the last points of the schedule. Usually, the sitting is finished with three short debates concerning human rights. 

The sittings of the Parliament are open to the public. Everybody can listen to the debates from a special gallery in the room. 

During the sitting, MEPs can speak about all important topics. MEPs can also ask the European Commission to carry a motion on an issue, which requires legislative acts. There is time for questions to the European Commission (usually on Tuesday) and the European Council (usually on Wednesday).  

The Parliament accepts:

- legislative reports in the frame of common decision, agreement and consultation procedure

- EU budget with the EU income and expenses

- non-legislative reports made by relevant EP commissions as the EP’s initiative; during the process, the EP addresses the member states, as well as other governments to draw their attention to the issue.  

Annual calendar of the Parliament is accepted each year by the plenary assembly on the motion of the Conference of Presidents of the EP. The calendar specifies dates of sittings of the parliamentary commissions and political groups. The daily schedule of sittings indicates whether there will be a vote on the resolution draft after the statements and queries. Summary of debates over violations of human rights, democracy, and states of law can be resolution projects. Documents are usually put into force by commissions, political groups or at least 400 MEPs.

Committees

There are 20 parliamentary committees, where MEPs work on preparing plenary sittings. There are 25-73 MEPs in each committee, a chair, a praesidium and a secretary office. The committees meet once or twice a month in Brussels. The meetings are open to the public. The political makeup of the committees reflects that of the plenary assembly.

MEPs work on draft of legislative projects, report their activities, make amendments and vote on them. They work on the proposals of the European Commission or the European Council and create reports which are later presented during the plenary sittings. 

The EP may also create sub-committees and special temporary committees to work on particular problems. In addition, a committee of inquiry can be set up within the framework of the EP’s controlling competences. Such committees investigate the member states’ adherence to EU legal acts. 

The chair of committee coordinates works in frames of The Conference of Presidents of the EP. 

Conference of Presidents of the EP

The Conference of Presidents of the EP is responsible for planning legislative works, assigning tasks and representing the committees and delegations, contact with other EU institutions, national parliaments and the third countries. It is a political body of the EP, composed of the president of the EP, the presidents of political groups and one representative of non-attached MEPs who doesn’t have a vote. 

The Conference draws the calendar of works and the daily schedule of sessions; it also decides about places in the plenary room. Decisions are taken on the base of consensus taking into account the number of representatives of each political group. 

The meetings of the Conference take place two times a month and are not public. Protocols from these meetings are translated into every official language, printed and provided to the MEPs. Each MEP can inquire about the Conference’s work. 

Delegation and Interparty Teams

Delegations of the EP represent the EU outside. Delegates maintain relations and exchange information with the parliaments of non-EU countries. Their aim is also to promote principal values of the EU: freedom and democracy, respect for human rights and basic freedoms, as well as the principles of the rule of law.  

There are various kinds of delegations: common parliamentary committees, committees of parliamentary cooperation, other inter-parliamentary delegations and delegations to multilateral parliamentary assemblies. 

MEPs of all political groups and members of all committees can create inter-groups aimed at non-formal discussions and exchange of ideas. It contributes to the relation between MEPs and civil society. These inter-groups are not official bodies of the Parliament and that is why they cannot speak on behalf of the EP. 

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