The European Parliament is an important forum for political debate and decision-making at EU level. It is the only directly elected body of the EU that represents the democratic character of the Union. It is the second largest democratic electorate in the world (after the Parliament of India) and the largest transnational democratic electorate in the world (approximately 400 million eligible voters)
Parliament plays a key role in the EU’s institutional balance, especially in the democratic oversight and political oversight of all European institutions.
The European Parliament was originally known as the Joint Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). The Assembly first met on 10 September 1952 with 78 representatives from the original six Member States (France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg). At that time, the Assembly had no legislative powers and was used as a place for consultations and discussions.
In 1958, representatives of two newly formed communities (the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) joined the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the Assembly was inaugurated as the “European Parliamentary Assembly”.
On 30 March 1962, the name was unofficially changed in the European Parliament, but this change was finally institutionalized by the Single European Act of 1987.
Since 1979, members of the European Parliament (EP) have been elected by direct election for a term of five years. All registered voters in the EU have the right to vote. There are 705 elected members in the current term. The number of members by country varies and depends on the population.
The European Parliament is based in Strasbourg, but also operates in two other locations: Brussels and Luxembourg. Specialized parliamentary committees usually meet in Brussels. Their offices, as well as the General Secretariat, are located in Brussels and Luxembourg.
The EP has a four-day plenary session every month (except August) in Strasbourg. She also meets in Brussels six times a year for two days. In order to facilitate contact with the European Commission and the Council of the European Union, specialized parliamentary committees meet in Brussels, usually once or twice a month.
Parliamentary debates are interpreted in 24 official languages: Bulgarian, Czech, Croatian, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Irish, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Romani, Slovenian, Spanish and Swedish. All parliamentary documents have also been translated and published in these 24 languages.