Plenary overview

Chamber seating plan

Visitors' gallery

The European Parliament debates in public. There is a public gallery from which visitors can follow proceedings. Parts of the gallery are reserved for the press, official guests and the diplomatic corps.

Interpreters

The interpreters are responsible for interpreting proceedings simultaneously into all the official languages of the European Union.

Members of Parliament

There are 766 Members of the European Parliament as of 1 July 2013. Seats are allocated among the Member States in relation to the size of their population. Members sit with others of a similar political affinity, not in national groups. They are elected for 5 years by direct universal suffrage.

Presidents/ Spokespersons of political groups

Most Members belong to one of the political groups in the European Parliament. Members who do not belong to any political group are known as « Non-attached » Members. Each political group is led by a president.

Council of the European Union

The Council of Ministers of the European Union frequently takes part in debates in Parliament. The Council is represented by the relevant minister of the Member State which holds the six-month presidency of the Council.

European Commission

The Commission takes part in virtually all debates in Parliament, especially in order to present its legislative proposals. It is usually represented by the Commissioner responsible for the subject under discussion.

President of the European Parliament

Plenary sittings are chaired either by the President of Parliament or one of its 14 vice-presidents. The term of office for the President and Vice-Presidents is two and a half years.

Secretariat

To the right and left of the President there are officials of Parliament who help him/her in chairing the sitting. Other officials present in the Chamber are responsible for drawing up the minutes and verbatim report of proceedings.