What are political groups and how are they formed?
After the elections, MEPs form political groups. These groups bring together MEPs from different Member States on the basis of their political affinities. Groups can also be formed later during the Parliament mandate. Currently there are 8 political groups in the European Parliament.
To get the formal status of a political group it must consist of at least 25 MEPs, elected in at least one-quarter of the member states (i.e. at least 7). MEPs may only belong to one political group. When a group is set up, the President of Parliament must be notified in a statement specifying the name of the group, its members and its presidium.
Normally, Parliament does not assess the political affinity of group members. By forming a group, MEPs accept by definition that they have political affinity. It is only when this is denied by the MEPs concerned themselves that Parliament will have to evaluate whether the group has in fact been constituted in conformity with the rules.
Political groups can hire staff and are provided with administrative facilities, funded by Parliament's budget. Parliament’s Bureau sets the rules for how these funds and facilities are managed and audited. The funds available to the groups are intended not only to cover the administrative and operational cost of a group's staff but also the cost of political and information activities in connection with the European Union's political activities.
The budget may not be used to finance any form of European, national, regional or local electoral campaign or to finance political parties at national and European level or their dependent bodies. Not all MEPs sit in a group. Those who do not, are known as “non-attached" members. They are also provided with staff and have rights under the rules set out by the Bureau.