What is the European Parliament?
An elected body, representing all of the EU’s citizens
What is it responsible for?
Legislation: Today, the EP passes the majority of laws for the EU.
Who are its representatives, and how are they elected? The representatives are called Members of the European Parliament (MEPs).

They are directly elected every five (5) years by universal suffrage; this means all citizens of EU member states, male and female, at the age of 18 and above, have the right to vote.

The most recent elections were in May 2014.

How many representatives are there in the EP? From 1999-2004, there were 626 MEPS. With the enlargement of May 2004, the number of MEPs increased to 732.

After the enlargement of January 2007, the number of MEPs increased again to 785, with 35 new Romanian MEPs and 18 Bulgarian MEPs added.

However, after the European Parliament elections in 2009, the number of MEPs was reduced to 736 so as not to exceed the total desired number of seats.

The European Parliament elections in 2014 saw the number of seats jump to 751, to allow for the new member state, Croatia, which joined in 2013. Once the United Kingdom leaves the EU in 2019, the total number of seats will decrease to 726 since the UK will no longer be sending any MEPs.

To see the number of seats per country in 2004, 2007, 2009, 2014, and 2019, click HERE.

Where is the European Parliament? Headquarters and Plenary sessions are held in Strasbourg (France)

Additional sessions are held in Brussels (Belgium)

The Secretariat-General and the Departments are in Luxembourg.

How is the President selected?
The President is elected by the other MEPs for two-and-a-half-year terms.
What are the political groups of the EP? Political groups in the European Parliament are similar to political parties in the different national governments. In fact the EP’s political groups are made from single European parties (or Europarties) or loose coalitions of these Europarties which draw their members from more than 100 national political parties. There are eight political groups in the EP:

  • EPP: European People’s Party
  • S&D: Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats
  • ALDE: Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
  • Greens-EFA: The Greens – European Free Alliance
  • ECR: European Conservatives and Reformists
  • GUE/NGL: European United Left – Nordic Green Left
  • EFDD: Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy
  • ENF: Europe of Nations and Freedom
  • NI: Non-Inscrits (Independent or non-attached members)

To learn more about these groups, visit the European Parliament’s Political Groups On-line Page | FR.

The MEPs sit with their political groups rather than in national delegations.

Source: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/aboutparliament/en