The European Parliament is the only directly-elected body of the European Union of which 736 Members represent European citizens. They are elected once every five years by voters right across the 27 Member States of the European Union on behalf of its 500 million citizens.
The coming into force of the Lisbon Treaty in 2009 gave the European Parliament new lawmaking powers: it now decides on the vast majority of EU legislation. Over 40 new fields come under the procedure for co-decision by Parliament and the Council of Ministers, including agriculture, energy policy, immigration and EU funds. Parliament also has the last say on EU budget. As with more power comes more responsibility, Parliament, as the only directly-elected EU institution, has new means to keep the EU accountable to its citizens. It plays an active role in drafting legislation which has an impact on the daily lives of its citizens. For example, on environmental protection, consumer rights, equal opportunities, transport, and the free movement of workers, capital, services and goods. Parliament also has joint power with the Council over the annual budget of the European Union. Its official headquarters is in Strasbourg where the twelve plenary part-sessions are held each year while six more so called "mini plenaries" take place in Brussels.
The President, currently Jerzy Buzek MEP (EPP Group), is essentially the speaker of the Parliament who is elected for a term of two and a half years by the MEP's. The President represents the European Parliament vis-à-vis the outside world and in its relations with the other EU institutions. The President is assisted by 14 Vice-Presidents (among them, on the proposal of the Hungarian EPP Delagation: MEP László Tőkés) with whom he oversees all the work of the Parliament and its constituent bodies, as well as the debates in plenary. Most of the EP's work is done in its 20 permanent special committees. The Members of the European Parliament sit in political groups – they are not organised by nationality, but by political affiliation. In the 7th legislature there are currently seven political groups and non-attached MEPs in the EP.
List of Groups within the EP:
European People's Party (EPP Group) with 265 members (among them 14 Fidesz MEPs);
Progressive Alliance of Socialist and Democrats (S&D) with 185 members (4 Hungarian MEPs);
Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) with 84 members;
Greens - European Free Alliance (Greens/EFA) with 55 members;
European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) with 55 members (1 Hungarian MEP);
European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) with 35 members;
Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD) 28 members;
27 unattached (IN) members (3 Hungarian MEP).
For more information visit: www.europarl.europa.eu