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 currently 41 delegations. The number of Members in each delegation varies from 12 to over 70 for parliamentary assemblies.
There are several types of delegations:
The delegation chairmen coordinate their work within the Conference of Delegation Chairs.
Interparliamentary meetings are held once or twice a year, alternately in one of Parliament’s places of work and in a place decided by the partner parliament in the non-EU country concerned.
Joint parliamentary committees are set up with the parliaments of States that have association agreements with the European Union or of States with which accession negotiations have been initiated.
At their meetings, the members of the two delegations (the EP delegation and the third-country parliament delegation) keep each other informed of their respective priorities and the implementation of association agreements.
Joint parliamentary committees may make recommendations both to the parliament of the candidate country and to the European Parliament. They monitor candidate countries' progress towards accession to the EU.
The powers of the joint parliamentary committees are defined by Parliament and by the agreements with third countries.
The procedures by which these committees operate are governed by the agreements in question. They are based on the principle of parity between the delegation of the European Parliament and the delegation of the parliament involved.
Parliamentary cooperation committees are set up pursuant to a cooperation agreement between the European Union (EU) and the third country concerned.
Parliamentary cooperation committees collaborate with the States involved in the European Neighbourhood Policy and the States which have signed a strategic partnership agreement with the EU.
The number of members varies from one committee to the next. But they all consist of an equal number of members from the EP and from the country concerned.
‘Other interparliamentary delegations’ are delegations which maintain and promote relations with the parliaments of countries outside the European Union and countries which are not candidate countries.
They carry out their activities in cooperation with the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committee on Development and the Committee on International Trade.
On a proposal from the Conference of Presidents, Parliament decides how many members each delegation should have.
Delegation members are elected for the duration of the parliamentary term.
The Committee on Foreign Affairs coordinates the work of joint parliamentary committees and parliamentary cooperation committees as well as that of the interparliamentary delegations, ad hoc delegations and election observation missions falling within its remit.
There are five joint parliamentary assemblies:
This international assembly, on which representatives of the various countries sit together, is intended to create a parliamentary forum for cooperation between the EU and the ACP countries.
This partnership is based on the Cotonou Agreement (ACP-EU partnership agreement).
The assembly has the following aims:
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean consists of 120 members representing the European countries and an equal number from the 10 Mediterranean partner countries. The assembly considers political, economic and cultural matters of common interest and discusses ways of strengthening the Euro-Mediterranean partnership.
It has a consultative role on all subjects relating to the Euro-Mediterranean partnership.
The Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly consists of 120 members.
As the parliamentary institution of the strategic bi-regional partnership between the EU and Latin America and the Caribbean, the EuroLat Assembly is a forum for debate and parliamentary control and monitoring dealing with three major fields of action:
The principle of parity applies to the rules and procedures of the assembly..
The European Parliament’s delegation to the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly was constituted at the start of the seventh parliamentary term (end September 2009). The Assembly is the parliamentary institution of the Eastern Partnership, the policy launched by the European Union to bring its Eastern neighbours closer and to support their efforts for political, economic and social reform. This involves new Association Agreements, the creation of free trade areas and the provision of financial resources.
Euronest consists of 60 Members of the European Parliament and 10 members from the national parliaments of each of the Eastern partner countries, namely Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
For political reasons, the participation of Belarus has been temporarily suspended. The members of the assembly intend to welcome their colleagues from Belarus into their midst as soon as political circumstances permit, i.e. once free and democratic elections have been organised.
Euronest is an institution for multilateral parliamentary dialogue in many areas of common interest: stability, democracy, approximation of laws and standards, trade, energy, contacts between peoples, etc.
The NATO Parliamentary Assembly (PA) is the inter-parliamentary organisation of legislators from the member countries of the North Atlantic Alliance as well as 13 associate members, including the European Parliament.
The principal objective of the Assembly is to facilitate parliamentary awareness and to foster mutual understanding among Alliance parliamentarians of the key security challenges facing the transatlantic partnership and NATO policies.
The Assembly holds about forty events each year. The main two Assembly meetings are the Spring Session and the Annual Session. Up to ten Members of the DNAT may participate in each of the two sessions.
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.