The President is elected for a renewable term of two and a half years, i.e. half the lifetime of a Parliament. The President represents the European Parliament vis-à-vis the outside world and in its relations with the other EU institutions.
The President oversees the work of the Parliament and its constituent bodies as well as the debates in plenary and ensures that Parliament’s Rules of Procedure are adhered to.
At the beginning of every European Council meeting, the President of the European Parliament sets out Parliament’s point of view and its concerns as regards the items on the agenda and other subjects.
After the European Union’s budget has been adopted by Parliament, the President signs it, rendering it operational. The EP President and the President of the Council both sign all legislative acts adopted under ordinary legislative procedure.
The European Parliament is made up of 751 Members elected in the 28 Member States of the enlarged European Union. Since 1979 MEPs have been elected by direct universal suffrage for a five-year period.
Each country decides on the form its election will take, but must guarantee equality of the sexes and a secret ballot. EU elections are by proportional representation.
Seats are allocated on the basis of population of each Member State. Slightly more than a third of MEPs are women. MEPs are grouped by political affinity, not nationality.
The Members of the European Parliament sit in political groups – they are not organised by nationality, but by political affiliation. There are currently 7 political groups in the European Parliament.
25 Members are needed to form a political group, and at least one-quarter of the Member States must be represented within the group. Members may not belong to more than one political group.
Some Members do not belong to any political group and are known as non-attached Members.
Each political group care of its own internal organisation by appointing a chair (or two co-chairs in the case of some groups), a bureau and a secretariat.
The places assigned to Members in the Chamber are decided by political affiliation, from left to right, by agreement with the group chairmen.
Before every vote in plenary the political groups scrutinise the reports drawn up by the parliamentary committees and table amendments to them.
The position adopted by the political group is arrived at by discussion within the group. No Member can be forced to vote in a particular way.
In order to do the preparatory work for Parliament's plenary sittings, the Members are divided up among a number of specialised standing committees. There are 20 parliamentary committees. A committee consists of between 25 and 71 MEPs, and has a chair, a bureau and a secretariat. The political make-up of the committees reflects that of the plenary assembly.
The parliamentary committees meet once or twice a month in Brussels. Their debates are held in public.
The committees draw up, amend and adopt legislative proposals and own-initiative reports. They consider Commission and Council proposals and, where necessary, draw up reports to be presented to the plenary assembly.
Parliament can also set up sub-committees and special temporary committees to deal with specific issues, and is empowered to create formal committees of inquiry under its supervisory remit to investigate allegations of maladmistration of EU law.
The committee chairs coordinate the work of the committees in the Conference of Committee Chairs.
The European Parliament’s delegations maintain relations and exchange information with parliaments in non-EU countries. Through its delegations, the European Parliament helps to represent the European Union externally and to promote in third countries the values on which the European Union is founded, namely the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law.
There are several types of delegations: joint parliamentary committees, parliamentary cooperation committees, other interparliamentary delegations and delegations to multilateral parliamentary assemblies.
There are different political bodies in the European Parliament responsible for the organisation of Parliament’s business and legislative planning or for Parliament rules as well as administrative, financial, staff and organisational matters.
The Conference of Presidents is the political body in Parliament responsible for
The Conference of Presidents prepares Parliament’s timetable and plenary sitting agendas and allocates seats in the Chamber.
The Conference of Presidents consists of the President of Parliament and the political group chairmen.
One representative of the non-attached Members also has a seat in the Conference of Presidents but no voting rights.
The Conference of Presidents takes its decisions by consensus or by weighted vote based on the number of Members in each political group.
The duties of the Conference of Presidents are laid down in the Rules of Procedure.
It organises the work of the European Parliament and its bodies.
It is consulted on all matters relating to legislative planning and relations with other EU bodies and institutions.
The Conference of Presidents generally meets twice a month. Its meetings are not held in public.
The minutes of Conference of Presidents meetings are translated into the official languages, printed and distributed to all Members.
Any Member may ask questions about the Conference of Presidents’ activities.
This gives Members the opportunity, outside plenary sittings, to exchange views with an invited guest or obtain prior information about Commission proposals.
The Bureau is the body that lays down rules for Parliament.
It draws up Parliament’s preliminary draft budget and decides all administrative, staff and organisational matters.
The Bureau consists of the President of the European Parliament, the 14 Vice-Presidents and the five Quaestors elected by Parliament for a period of two and a half years (which can be renewed).
In the event of a tied vote in the Bureau, the President has the deciding vote. The Quaestors are members of the Bureau in an advisory capacity.
The Bureau has numerous administrative and financial duties within Parliament.
It is responsible for all matters relating to the internal running of Parliament.
It takes decisions on the organisation of sittings, it can authorise committee or delegation meetings outside the three usual places of work, and prepares the preliminary draft estimates of Parliament’s expenditure.
It appoints the Secretary-General who is responsible for running Parliament’s administration and establishes the composition and organisation of the Secretariat.
The Bureau generally meets twice a month.
Bureau minutes are translated into the official languages, printed and distributed to all Members.
Any Member may ask questions about the Bureau’s activities.
The Bureau decides on the funding for the political parties represented in the European Parliament.
The College of Quaestors is the European Parliament body responsible for administrative and financial matters directly concerning Members and their working conditions.
There are five Quaestors. They are also members of the Bureau.
The European Parliament elects the Quaestors after the election of the President and the 14 Vice-Presidents.
The Quaestors are elected by a majority secret ballot in three rounds: an absolute majority of the votes cast is required for the first two rounds and a relative majority is sufficient for the last round.
Their term of office is two and a half years and they have an advisory role in the Bureau.
The Quaestors are responsible for administrative and financial matters that directly affect Members, for example making general services and equipment available.
They can present proposals to modify or rewrite texts on all rules adopted by the Bureau.
The Quaestors generally meet once a month.
Any Member may ask questions about the Quaestors’ activities.
The Conference of Committee Chairs is the political body in Parliament that works for better cooperation between the committees.
The Conference of Committee Chairs consists of the chairmen of all the standing and temporary committees; it elects its chairman. The Conference of Committee Chairs generally meets once a month in Strasbourg during plenary sittings.
The Conference of Committee Chairs may make recommendations to the Conference of Presidents on the committees’ work and the agendas for plenary sittings.
It can also advise the Conference of Presidents if there is disagreement as to which committee should be responsible.
The Bureau and Conference of Presidents may delegate certain tasks to the Conference of Committee Chairs.
The Conference of Delegation Chairs is the political body in Parliament that periodically considers all matters concerning the smooth running of interparliamentary delegations and delegations to the joint parliamentary committees.
The Conference of Delegation Chairs consists of the Chairs of all the standing interparliamentary delegations; it elects its chairman.
The Conference of Delegation Chairs may make recommendations to the Conference of Presidents on the delegations’ work.
The Conference of Delegation Chairs draws up a draft annual calendar of interparliamentary meetings and meetings of joint parliamentary committees.
The Bureau and Conference of Presidents may delegate certain tasks to the Conference of Delegation Chairs.
Intergroups can be formed by Members from any political group and any committee, with a view to holding informal exchanges of views on particular subjects and promoting contact between Members and civil society.
Intergroups are not Parliament bodies and therefore may not express Parliament's opinion.
Intergroups are subject to internal rules adopted by the Conference of Presidents on 16 December 1999 (last updated on 11 September 2014), which set out the conditions under which intergroups may be established at the beginning of each parliamentary term and their operating rules.
Chairs of intergroups are required to declare any support they receive in cash or kind, according to the same criteria applicable to Members as individuals. The declarations must be updated every year and are filed in a public register held by the Quaestors.
At its meeting on 11 December 2014 the Conference of Presidents approved the following list of intergroups to be established under the current legislative term of Parliament:
Article 232 of the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union (TFEU) states that the European Parliament shall adopt Rules of Procedure. These are Parliament's internal organisational and operational rules.