Group and individual visits to the EP
Visiting the European Parliament is a unique opportunity for citizens to learn how EU parliamentary democracy works and how the decisions taken by the European Parliament are relevant to their daily lives. Parliament offers visitor a wide range of possibilities to get acquainted with the work, history, functioning of the Institution and the European Union. The European Parliament welcomes large numbers of visitors across several locations, parliamentary visitor centres and museums.
The visitor’s offer of the EP is various and addressed to groups and individual visitors.
About half a million of people from the EU and beyond visit the Plenary chamber (Hemicycle) of the European Parliament in Brussels and Strasbourg every year. Many of these visitors come as part of a group (either invited by an MEP or on their own), but individual visitors numbers have been increasing in past years. Groups are welcomed by Parliament staff, who give a talk on the work and role of the European Parliament. The groups may meet with MEPs and can visit the Hemicycle. Individual visitors can visit the Hemicycle with an interactive multi-media guide in 24 languages, follow a plenary session or book a Hemicycle talk with one of the Parliament’s speakers.
The European Parliament believes that public access to its proceedings and premises should be easy, because it sees transparency as important to the exercise of democratic rights within the European Union. As the cost of travelling to Brussels and Strasbourg may be prohibitive for many EU citizens due to the long distances involved, in some cases, the Parliament helps to cover part of Members’ visitor group expenses.
Visitors coming to Brussels can also visit the Parlamentarium and the House of European History, which are outside the European Parliament premises and open during the weekend. The Parlamentarium also hosts a popular role-playing game for secondary school students, modelled on the workings of the European Parliament, in which participants play the part of an MEP negotiating legislation that will affect the day-to-day lives of people living in Europe.
In Strasbourg, an exhibition space known as Parlamentarium Simone Veil with a 360-degree cinema and interactive tools are part of the visit. The Strasbourg premises of Parliament also host the Euroscola student programme, which offers thousands of students between 16 to 18 years old the experience of being a Member of Parliament for a day.
The European Parliament has opened smaller visitor centres in Member States to bring the Parliament closer to the citizens. It is planned to have a centre in each Member State. The aim of these Europa Experiences is to bring Europe where people are, offer them information and encourage citizens to get involved.
The visitors’ offer is not limited to physical visits. The European Parliament has increased its online/ digital offer and is now offering for example Online EP Talks and online European Youth Seminars.
During Online EP Talks visitors can deepen their knowledge about the power, role and activities of this institution with an online presentation and question and answer session adapted to the group’s interests. An Online EP Talk is available in one of the 24 official languages of the European Union.
During the online European Youth Seminars young people from different EU countries come together to brainstorm, discuss and debate social challenges. As part of a multicultural group, they work together on topics relevant to today’s Europe. Participants come up with innovative solutions and present them to a Member of the European Parliament. An online European Youth Seminar is generally available in English, French or German.
Every year in early May Parliament celebrates Europe day with various activities in Strasbourg and Brussels organised by different Parliament’s services and political groups.