The members of the European Parliament and their political parties share similar values and agendas. Therefore, they act on the basis of their political affinity rather than nationality. The European Parliament Chamber is divided into specified seating zones for each group. Some members do not belong to any political group and there is a separate “non-attached” members seating area for them. They can join a group at any time during the legislature.
While this type of organization is not as powerful as the group discipline system, the purpose of this type of organization is the efficiency of the European Parliament operating system since fragmentation is prevented and contributes to facilitated decision-making.
The European Parliament political groups shouldn’t be identified with European political parties. In fact, the majority of national parties represented within a given political group are also members of the corresponding European political party. Some political groups have members of two or more European political parties. Currently, there are seven political groups in the European Parliament.
The structure of the political groups
According to the rules and procedures of the European Parliament, 25 members are needed to create a political group. The members are not allowed to belong to any other political group. The selected members have to be from at least one-quarter of EU countries, that is seven countries of the European Union.
Each political party is responsible for its internal organization. The organisation has consisted of a chair (or two cochairs in some groups), a bureau, and a secretariat. Members’ seats in the Chamber are apportioned according to their political affiliation, from left to right, by agreement with the group chairs.
Once the political group is formed, a statement should be written that specifies the name of the group, the leadership and the members of the political group that must be submitted to the President of the European Parliament.
The political group’s position is formed by discussion inside the group. No Member can be forced to vote a certain way.
During the parliamentary term, members can form or disband political groups at any time. If the number of Members falls below the required threshold, the President, with the agreement of the heads of political groups, may allow the group to continue to exist until the next sitting, as long as its members continue to represent at least one-fifth of EU countries (six) and if the group has been in existence for more than a year.
Funding the political groups
The political groups are funded from the budget of the European Parliament. This goes for the non-attached members as well. The budget is allocated at the beginning of each year based on the number of Members in each group.
In 2020, appropriations (covering administrative and operational costs as well as political and information activities) amounted to €63 million. The budget is allocated at the beginning of each year, through a system based on the number of Members in each group (and non-attached Members).
The political groups of the European Parliament: