The European Parliament is part of the legislative, or law making, process in the EU.
The Parliament has 705 seats and elections to fill these seats are held in all member states every 5 years. The European Parliament is the only directly elected body within the EU.
The European Parliament is based in Brussels, Luxemburg and Strasbourg.
The President and MEPs
The Parliament elects its own president, along with 14 vice-presidents for a term of 2.5 years. The president represents the Parliament to other EU institutions.
The number of MEPs for each member state is loosely based on the population of the member state. No country can have fewer than 6 MEPs or more than 96 MEPs. Ireland has 13 MEPs.
MEPs join groups, or can sit as independent MEPs. For a group to be recognised, it must have at least 25 MEPs representing at least one quarter of EU member states.
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What does the European Parliament do?
The European Parliament has 3 roles:
- It debates legislation. It can pass or reject laws, and it can also make amendments (but not in all cases). Laws must also be passed by the Council of the EU in order to become law. If the law is about EU budgets, the Parliament can only advise on it – it does not have the power to reject the law. You can read more about how EU laws are made.
- It supervises EU institutions and budgets. The president of the EU Commission must be approved by Parliament, and the Commission must answer written or oral questions during Question Time.
- It establishes an EU budget (along with the Council of the EU).
Unlike most national parliaments, the European Parliament cannot initiate legislation. The European Commission is the only EU institution with the power to initiate (or start) new laws. The Parliament can ask the Commission to initiate laws.
How do I access EU Parliament documents?
You can access the following information online:
- Parliamentary Committees – specialist committees of MEPs scrutinise legislation before they are sent to the Parliament to be debated and voted on.
- Parliamentary delegations – these are groups of MEPs who meet with representatives of non EU countries to build closer relationships
- Parliamentary questions – a database of PQs are available online
- Public documents are held online on the European Parliament’s public register
How do I raise a concern with the European Parliament?
If you have an issue that you wish to bring to the attention of the Parliament, you can either contact your local MEP, or petition the Parliament directly.
You can also contact the liaison office in Ireland. See ‘further information and contacts’ below.
Further information and contacts
Further information is available from one of the European Parliament's information offices.
You can also ask questions via the Citizens' Enquiry Service.
Find out about visiting the European Parliament.