During the fifth term, 1999 to 2004, there was a break in the grand coalition resulting in a centre-right coalition between the Liberal and People’s parties. [81] This was reflected in the Presidency of the Parliament with the terms being shared between the EPP and the ELDR, rather than the EPP and Socialists. [82] In the following term the liberal group grew to hold 88 seats, the largest number of seats held by any third party in Parliament. [83] Elections Main article: Elections to the European Parliament

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For the statutory organ of the Council of Europe, see Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. For recent elections, see European Parliament election, 2014.

Building of the European Parliament in Brussels

“European Parliament” on official languages of the European Union (on the Parliament building in Brussels)

The European Parliament (EP) is the directly elected parliamentary institution of the European Union (EU). Together with the Council of the European Union (the Council) and the European Commission, it exercises the legislative function of the EU. The Parliament is composed of 751 (previously 766) members, who represent the second largest democratic electorate in the world (after the Parliament of India) and the largest trans-national democratic electorate in the world (375 million eligible voters in 2009). [3][4][5]

It has been directly elected every five years by universal suffrage since 1979. However, voter turnout at European Parliament elections has fallen consecutively at each election since that date, and has been under 50% since 1999. Voter turnout in 2014 stood at 42.54% of all European voters. [6]

Although the European Parliament has legislative power that the Council and Commission do not possess, it does not formally possess legislative initiative, as most national parliaments of European Union member states do. [7][8][9] The Parliament is the “first institution” of the EU (mentioned first in the treaties, having ceremonial precedence over all authority at European level), [10] and shares equal legislative and budgetary powers with the Council (except in a few areas where the special legislative procedures apply). It likewise has equal control over the EU budget. Finally, the European Commission, the executive body of the EU, is accountable to Parliament. In particular, Parliament elects the President of the Commission, and approves (or rejects) the appointment of the Commission as a whole. It can subsequently force the Commission as a body to resign by adopting a motion of censure. [7]

The President of the European Parliament (Parliament’s speaker) is Martin Schulz (S&D), elected in January 2012. He presides over a multi-party chamber, the two largest groups being the Group of the European People’s Party (EPP) and the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D). The last union-wide elections were the 2014 elections.

The European Parliament has three places of work – Brussels (Belgium), the city of Luxembourg (Luxembourg) and Strasbourg (France). Luxembourg is home to the administrative offices (the ‘General Secretariat’). Meetings of the whole Parliament (‘plenary sessions’) take place in Strasbourg and in Brussels. Committee meetings are held in Brussels. [11][12]

Further information: History of the European Union

The Parliament, like the other institutions, was not designed in its current form when it first met on 10 September 1952. One of the oldest common institutions, it began as the Common Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). It was a consultative assembly of 78 appointed parliamentarians drawn from the national parliaments of member states (see dual mandate), having no legislative powers. [13][14] The change since its foundation was highlighted by Professor David Farrell of the University of Manchester; [15]

Its development since its foundation is a testament to the evolution of the Union’s structures without one clear “master plan”. Some such as Tom Reid of the Washington Post said of the union, “nobody would have deliberately designed a government as complex and as redundant as the EU”. [16] Even the Parliament’s two seats, which have switched several times, are a result of various agreements or lack of agreements. Although most MEPs would prefer to be based just in Brussels, at John Major’s 1992 Edinburgh summit, France engineered a treaty amendment to maintain Parliament’s plenary seat permanently at Strasbourg. [13][17]

Consultative assembly

The body was not mentioned in the original Schuman Declaration. It was assumed or hoped that difficulties with the British would be resolved to allow the Council of Europe’s Assembly to perform the task. A separate Assembly was introduced during negotiations on the Treaty as an institution which would counterbalance and monitor the executive while providing democratic legitimacy. [13] The wording of the ECSC Treaty demonstrated the leaders’ desire for more than a normal consultative assembly by using the term “representatives of the people” and allowed for direct election. Its early importance was highlighted when the Assembly was given the task of drawing up the draft treaty to establish a European Political Community. In this, the Ad Hoc Assembly was established on 13 September 1952 [18] with extra members but after the failure of the proposed European Defence Community the project was dropped. [19]

Session of the Council of Europe’s Assembly in the former House of Europe in Strasbourg in January 1967. Willy Brandt, German minister for Foreign Affairs, is speaking.

Despite this the European Economic Community and Euratom were established in 1958 by the Treaties of Rome. The Common Assembly was shared by all three communities (which had separate executives) and it renamed itself the European Parliamentary Assembly. [13] The first meeting was held on 19 March 1958 having been set up in Luxembourg, it elected Schuman as its president and on 13 May it rearranged itself to sit according to political ideology rather than nationality. [20] This is seen as the birth of the modern European Parliament, with Parliament’s 50 years celebrations being held in March 2008 rather than 2002. [21]

The three communities merged their remaining organs as the European Communities in 1967 and the body was renamed to the current “European Parliament” in 1962. [13] In 1970 the Parliament was granted power over areas of the Community’s budget, which were expanded to the whole budget in 1975. [22] Under the Rome Treaties, the Parliament should have become elected. However, the Council was required to agree a uniform voting system beforehand, which it failed to do. The Parliament threatened to take the Council to the European Court of Justice leading to a compromise whereby the Council would agree to elections, but the issue of voting systems would be put off till a later date. [23]

Elected Parliament

The emblem of Parliament until 1983

In 1979, its members were directly elected for the first time. This sets it apart from similar institutions such as those of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe or Pan-African Parliament which are appointed. [13][24][25] After that first election, the parliament held its first session on 11 July 1979, electing Simone Veil MEP as its President. Veil was also the first female President of the Parliament since it was formed as the Common Assembly.

As an elected body, the Parliament began to draft proposals addressing the functioning of the EU. For example, in 1984, inspired by its previous work on the Political Community, it drafted the “draft Treaty establishing the European Union” (also known as the ‘Spinelli Plan’ after its rapporteur Altiero Spinelli MEP). Although it was not adopted, many ideas were later implemented by other treaties. [26] Furthermore, the Parliament began holding votes on proposed Commission Presidents from the 1980s, before it was given any formal right to veto. [27]

Since the election the membership of the European Parliament has simply expanded whenever new nations have joined (the membership was also adjusted upwards in 1994 after German reunification). Following this the Treaty of Nice imposed a cap on the number of members to be elected, 732. [13]

Palace of Europe, Parliament’s Strasbourg hemicycle until 1999

Like the other institutions, the Parliament’s seat was not yet fixed. The provisional arrangements placed Parliament in Strasbourg, while the Commission and Council had their seats in Brussels. In 1985 the Parliament, wishing to be closer to these institutions, built a second chamber in Brussels and moved some of its work there despite protests from some states. A final agreement was eventually reached by the European Council in 1992. It stated the Parliament would retain its formal seat in Strasbourg, where twelve sessions a year would be held, but with all other parliamentary activity in Brussels. This two seat arrangement was contested by Parliament but was later enshrined in the Treaty of Amsterdam. To this day the institution’s locations are a source of contention. [28]

The Parliament gained more powers from successive treaties, namely through the extension of the ordinary legislative procedure (then called the codecision procedure), [29] and in 1999, the Parliament forced the resignation of the Santer Commission. [30] The Parliament had refused to approve the Community budget over allegations of fraud and mis-management in the Commission. The two main parties took on a government-opposition dynamic for the first time during the crisis which ended in the Commission resigning en masse, the first of any forced resignation, in the face of an impending censure from the Parliament. [31]

Barroso I

In 2004, Parliament forced President Barroso to change his proposed Commission team.

In 2004, following the largest trans-national election in history, despite the European Council choosing a President from the largest political group (the EPP), the Parliament again exerted pressure on the Commission. During the Parliament’s hearings of the proposed Commissioners MEPs raised doubts about some nominees with the Civil Liberties committee rejecting Rocco Buttiglione from the post of Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security over his views on homosexuality. That was the first time the Parliament had ever voted against an incoming Commissioner and despite Barroso’s insistence upon Buttiglione the Parliament forced Buttiglione to be withdrawn. A number of other Commissioners also had to be withdrawn or reassigned before Parliament allowed the Barroso Commission to take office. [32][33]

Rocco Buttiglione was the first Commission designate to be voted down by Parliament

Along with the extension of the ordinary legislative procedure, the Parliament’s democratic mandate has given it greater control over legislation against the other institutions. In voting on the Bolkestein directive in 2006, the Parliament voted by a large majority for over 400 amendments that changed the fundamental principle of the law. The Financial Times described it in the following terms: [34]

In 2007, for the first time, Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini included Parliament in talks on the second Schengen Information System even though MEPs only needed to be consulted on parts of the package. After that experiment, Frattini indicated he would like to include Parliament in all justice and criminal matters, informally pre-empting the new powers they could gain as part of the Treaty of Lisbon. [35]

Between 2007 and 2009, a special working group on parliamentary reform implemented a series of changes to modernise the institution such as more speaking time for rapporteurs, increase committee co-operation and other efficiency reforms. [36][37]

Recent history

Further information: Barroso Commission

Parliament’s overhaul of the Bolkestein directive signalled a major growth in status for Parliament

The Lisbon Treaty finally came into force on 1 December 2009, granting Parliament powers over the entire EU budget, making Parliament’s legislative powers equal to the Council’s in nearly all areas and linking the appointment of the Commission President to Parliament’s own elections. [38] Despite some calls for the parties to put forward candidates beforehand, only the EPP (which had re-secured their position as largest party) had one in re-endorsing Barroso. [39]

Barroso gained the support of the European Council for a second term and secured majority support from the Parliament in September 2009. Parliament voted 382 votes in favour and 219 votes against (117 abstentions ) with support of the European People’s Party, European Conservatives and Reformists and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe. [40] The liberals gave support after Barroso gave them a number of concessions; the liberals previously joined the socialists’ call for a delayed vote (the EPP had wanted to approve Barroso in July of that year). [41]

Once Barroso put forward the candidates for his next Commission, another opportunity to gain concessions arose. Bulgarian nominee Rumiana Jeleva was forced to step down by Parliament due to concerns over her experience and financial interests. She only had the support of the EPP which began to retaliate on left wing candidates before Jeleva gave in and was replaced (setting back the final vote further). [42]

Before the final vote, Parliament demanded a number of concessions as part of a future working agreement under the new Lisbon Treaty. The deal includes that Parliament’s President will attend high level Commission meetings. Parliament will have a seat in the EU’s Commission-lead international negotiations and have a right to information on agreements. However, Parliament secured only an observer seat. Parliament also did not secure a say over the appointment of delegation heads and special representatives for foreign policy. Although they will appear before parliament after they have been appointed by the High Representative. One major internal power was that Parliament wanted a pledge from the Commission that it would put forward legislation when parliament requests. Barroso considered this an infringement on the Commission’s powers but did agree to respond within three months. Most requests are already responded to positively. [43]

During the setting up of the European External Action Service (EEAS), Parliament used its control over the EU budget to influence the shape of the EEAS. MEPs had aimed at getting greater oversight over the EEAS by linking it to the Commission and having political deputies to the High Representative. MEPs didn’t manage to get everything they demanded. However, they got broader financial control over the new body. [44][45]

The Parliament’s hemicycle (debating chamber) during a plenary session in Strasbourg

The Parliament and Council have been compared to the two chambers of a bicameral legislature. [46] However, there are some differences from national legislatures; for example, neither the Parliament nor the Council have the power of legislative initiative (except for the fact that the Council has the power in some intergovernmental matters). In Community matters, this is a power uniquely reserved for the European Commission (the executive). Therefore, while Parliament can amend and reject legislation, to make a proposal for legislation, it needs the Commission to draft a bill before anything can become law. [47] The value of such a power has been questioned by noting that in the national legislatures of the member states 85% of initiatives introduced without executive support fail to become law. [48] Yet it has been argued by former Parliament president Hans-Gert Pöttering that as the Parliament does have the right to ask the Commission to draft such legislation, and as the Commission is following Parliament’s proposals more and more Parliament does have a de facto right of legislative initiative. [9]

The Parliament also has a great deal of indirect influence, through non-binding resolutions and committee hearings, as a “pan-European soapbox” with the ear of thousands of Brussels-based journalists. There is also an indirect effect on foreign policy; the Parliament must approve all development grants, including those overseas. For example, the support for post-war Iraq reconstruction, or incentives for the cessation of Iranian nuclear development, must be supported by the Parliament. Parliamentary support was also required for the transatlantic passenger data-sharing deal with the United States. [49] Finally, Parliament holds a non-binding vote on new EU treaties but cannot veto it. However, when Parliament threatened to vote down the Nice Treaty, the Belgian and Italian Parliaments said they would veto the treaty on the European Parliament’s behalf. [50]

Legislative procedure

With each new treaty, the powers of the Parliament, in terms of its role in the Union’s legislative procedures, have expanded. The procedure which has slowly become dominant is the “ordinary legislative procedure” (previously named “codecision procedure”), which provides an equal footing between Parliament and Council. In particular, under the procedure, the Commission presents a proposal to Parliament and the Council which can only become law if both agree on a text, which they do (or not) through successive readings up to a maximum of three. In its first reading, Parliament may send amendments to the Council which can either adopt the text with those amendments or send back a “common position”. That position may either be approved by Parliament, or it may reject the text by an absolute majority, causing it to fail, or it may adopt further amendments, also by an absolute majority. If the Council does not approve these, then a “Conciliation Committee” is formed. The Committee is composed of the Council members plus an equal number of MEPs who seek to agree a compromise. Once a position is agreed, it has to be approved by Parliament, by a simple majority. [7][51] This is also aided by Parliament’s mandate as the only directly democratic institution, which has given it leeway to have greater control over legislation than other institutions, for example over its changes to the Bolkestein directive in 2006. [34]

The few other areas that operate the special legislative procedures are justice & home affairs, budget and taxation and certain aspects of other policy areas: such as the fiscal aspects of environmental policy. In these areas, the Council or Parliament decide law alone. [52] The procedure also depends upon which type of institutional act is being used. [7] The strongest act is a regulation, an act or law which is directly applicable in its entirety. Then there are directives which bind member states to certain goals which they must achieve. They do this through their own laws and hence have room to manoeuvre in deciding upon them. A decision is an instrument which is focused at a particular person or group and is directly applicable. Institutions may also issue recommendations and opinions which are merely non-binding, declarations. [53] There is a further document which does not follow normal procedures, this is a “written declaration” which is similar to an early day motion used in the Westminster system. It is a document proposed by up to five MEPs on a matter within the EU’s activities used to launch a debate on that subject. Having been posted outside the entrance to the hemicycle, members can sign the declaration and if a majority do so it is forwarded to the President and announced to the plenary before being forwarded to the other institutions and formally noted in the minutes. [54]


The legislative branch officially holds the Union’s budgetary authority with powers gained through the Budgetary Treaties of the 1970s and the Lisbon Treaty. The EU budget is subject to a form of the ordinary legislative procedure with a single reading giving Parliament power over the entire budget (before 2009, its influence was limited to certain areas) on an equal footing to the Council. If there is a disagreement between them, it is taken to a conciliation committee as it is for legislative proposals. If the joint conciliation text is not approved, the Parliament may adopt the budget definitively. [52]

The Parliament is also responsible for discharging the implementation of previous budgets based on the annual report of the European Court of Auditors. It has refused to approve the budget only twice, in 1984 and in 1998. On the latter occasion it led to the resignation of the Santer Commission; highlighting how the budgetary power gives Parliament a great deal of power over the Commission. [23][31][55]

Parliament also makes extensive use of its budgetary, and other powers, elsewhere; for example in the setting up of the European External Action Service, Parliament has a de facto veto over its design as it has to approve the budgetary and staff changes. [44]

Control of the executive

Unlike most EU states, which usually operate parliamentary systems, there is a separation of powers between the executive and legislative which makes the European Parliament more akin to the United States Congress than an EU state legislature. [48] The President of the European Commission is proposed by the European Council on the basis of the European elections to Parliament. [38]

That proposal has to be approved by the Parliament (by a simple majority) who “elect” the President according to the treaties. Following the approval of the Commission President, the members of the Commission are proposed by the President in accord with the member-states. Each Commissioner comes before a relevant parliamentary committee hearing covering the proposed portfolio. They are then, as a body, approved or rejected by the Parliament. [56][57] In practice, the Parliament has never voted against a President or his Commission, but it did seem likely when the Barroso Commission was put forward. The resulting pressure forced the proposal to be withdrawn and changed to be more acceptable to parliament. [32] That pressure was seen as an important sign by some of the evolving nature of the Parliament and its ability to make the Commission accountable, rather than being a rubber stamp for candidates. Furthermore, in voting on the Commission, MEPs also voted along party lines, rather than national lines, despite frequent pressure from national governments on their MEPs. This cohesion and willingness to use the Parliament’s power ensured greater attention from national leaders, other institutions and the public—who previously gave the lowest ever turnout for the Parliament’s elections. [58]

The Parliament also has the power to censure the Commission if they have a two-thirds majority which will force the resignation of the entire Commission from office. As with approval, this power has never been used but it was threatened to the Santer Commission, who subsequently resigned of their own accord. There are a few other controls, such as: the requirement of Commission to submit reports to the Parliament and answer questions from MEPs; the requirement of the President-in-office of the Council to present its programme at the start of their presidency; the obligation on the President of the European Council to report to Parliament after each of its meetings; the right of MEPs to make requests for legislation and policy to the Commission; and the right to question members of those institutions (e.g. “Commission Question Time” every Tuesday). [27][57] At present, MEPs may ask a question on any topic whatsoever, but in July 2008 MEPs voted to limit questions to those within the EU’s mandate and ban offensive or personal questions. [59]

Supervisory powers

The Parliament also has other powers of general supervision, mainly granted by the Maastricht Treaty. [60] The Parliament has the power to set up a Committee of Inquiry, for example over mad cow disease or CIA detention flights—the former led to the creation of the European veterinary agency. The Parliament can call other institutions to answer questions and if necessary to take them to court if they break EU law or treaties. [61] Furthermore, it has powers over the appointment of the members of the Court of Auditors [62]

and the president and executive board of the European Central Bank. The ECB president is also obliged to present an annual report to the parliament. [61]

The European Ombudsman is elected by the Parliament, who deals with public complaints against all institutions. [61]

Petitions can also be brought forward by any EU citizen on a matter within the EU’s sphere of activities. The Committee on Petitions hears cases, some 1500 each year, sometimes presented by the citizen themselves at the Parliament. While the Parliament attempts to resolve the issue as a mediator they do resort to legal proceedings if it is necessary to resolve the citizens dispute. [63]

National apportionment of MEP seats (total 751)

Germany 96 (12.8%)

France 74 (9.9%)

Italy 73 (9.7%) United Kingdom 73 (9.7%)

Spain 54 (7.2%)

Poland 51 (6.8%)

Romania 32 (4.3%)

Netherlands 26 (3.5%)

Belgium 21 (2.8%) Czech Republic 21 (2.8%)

Greece 21 (2.8%)

Hungary 21 (2.8%)

Portugal 21 (2.8%)

Sweden 20 (2.7%)

Austria 18 (2.4%)

Bulgaria 17 (2.3%)

Denmark 13 (1.7%)

Finland 13 (1.7%)

Slovakia 13 (1.7%)

Croatia 11 (1.5%)

Ireland 11 (1.5%)

Lithuania 11 (1.5%)

Latvia 8 (1.1%)

Slovenia 8 (1.1%)

Cyprus 6 (0.8%)

Estonia 6 (0.8%)

Luxembourg 6 (0.8%)

Malta 6 (0.8%)

Main article: Member of the European Parliament

The parliamentarians are known in English as Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). They are elected every five years by universal adult suffrage and sit according to political allegiance; about a third are women. Before 1979 they were appointed by their national parliaments. [19][64]

Under the Lisbon Treaty, seats are allocated to each state according to population and the maximum number of members is set at 751 (however, as the President cannot vote while in the chair there will only be 750 voting members at any one time). [65]

The seats are distributed according to “degressive proportionality”, i.e., the larger the state, the more citizens are represented per MEP. As a result, Maltese and Luxembourgish voters have roughly 10x more influence per voter than citizens of the six large countries.

As of 2014, Germany (80.9 million inhabitants) has 96 seats (previously 99 seats), i.e. one seat for 843,000 inhabitants. Malta (0.4 million inhabitants) has 6 seats, i.e. one seat for 70,000 inhabitants.

The new system implemented under the Lisbon Treaty, including revising the seating well before elections, was intended to avoid political horse trading when the allocations have to be revised to reflect demographic changes. [66]

Pursuant to this apportionment, the constituencies are formed. In six EU member states (Belgium, France, Ireland, Italy, Poland, and the United Kingdom), the national territory is divided into a number of constituencies. In the remaining member states, the whole country forms a single constituency. All member states hold elections to the European Parliament using various forms of proportional representation.

Transitional arrangements

Due to the delay in ratifying the Lisbon Treaty, the seventh parliament was elected under the lower Nice Treaty cap. A small scale treaty amendment was ratified on 29 November 2011. [67] This amendment brought in transitional provisions to allow the 18 additional MEPs created under the Lisbon Treaty to be elected or appointed before the 2014 election. [68] Under the Lisbon Treaty reforms, Germany was the only state to lose members from 99 to 96. However, these seats were not removed until the 2014 election. [69]

Salaries and expenses

Before 2009, members received the same salary as members of their national parliament. However, from 2009 a new members statute came into force, after years of attempts, which gave all members an equal monthly pay, of 8,020.53 euro each in 2014, subject to a European Union tax and which can also be taxed nationally. MEPs are entitled to a pension, paid by Parliament, from the age of 63. Members are also entitled to allowances for office costs and subsistence, and travelling expenses, based on actual cost. [70] Besides their pay, members are granted a number of privileges and immunities. To ensure their free movement to and from the Parliament, they are accorded by their own states the facilities accorded to senior officials travelling abroad and, by other state governments, the status of visiting foreign representatives. When in their own state, they have all the immunities accorded to national parliamentarians, and, in other states, they have immunity from detention and legal proceedings. However, immunity cannot be claimed when a member is found committing a criminal offence and the Parliament also has the right to strip a member of his immunity. [71]

Political groups

Main article: Political groups of the European Parliament

MEPs in Parliament are organised into seven different parliamentary groups, including thirty non-attached members known as non-inscrits. The two largest groups are the European People’s Party (EPP) and the Socialists & Democrats (S&D). These two groups have dominated the Parliament for much of its life, continuously holding between 50 and 70 percent of the seats between them. No single group has ever held a majority in Parliament. [72] As a result of being broad alliances of national parties, European group parties are very decentralised and hence have more in common with parties in federal states like Germany or the United States than unitary states like the majority of the EU states. [48] Nevertheless, the European groups were actually more cohesive than their US counterparts between 2004 and 2009. [73][74]

Groups are often based on a single European political party such as the socialist group (before 2009). However, they can, like the liberal group, include more than one European party as well as national parties and independents. [75] For a group to be recognised, it needs 25 MEPs from seven different countries. [76] Once recognised, groups receive financial subsidies from the parliament and guaranteed seats on committees, creating an incentive for the formation of groups. However, some controversy occurred with the establishment of the short-lived Identity, Tradition, Sovereignty (ITS) due to its ideology; the members of the group were far-right, so there were concerns about public funds going towards such a group. [77] There were attempts to change the rules to block the formation of ITS, but they never came to fruition. The group was, however, blocked from gaining leading positions on committees — traditionally (by agreement, not a rule) shared among all parties. [78] When this group engaged in infighting, leading to the withdrawal of some members, its size fell below the threshold for recognition causing its collapse. [79]

Grand coalition

Given that the Parliament does not form the government in the traditional sense of a Parliamentary system, its politics have developed along more consensual lines rather than majority rule of competing parties and coalitions. Indeed, for much of its life it has been dominated by a grand coalition of the European People’s Party and the Party of European Socialists. The two major parties tend to co-operate to find a compromise between their two groups leading to proposals endorsed by huge majorities. [80] However, this does not always produce agreement, and each may instead try to build other alliances, the EPP normally with other centre-right or right wing Groups and the PES with centre-left or left wing Groups. Sometimes, the Liberal Group is then in the pivotal position. There are also occasions where very sharp party political divisions have emerged, for example over the resignation of the Santer Commission. [31]

When the initial allegations against the Commission emerged, they were directed primarily against Édith Cresson and Manuel Marín, both socialist members. When the parliament was considering refusing to discharge the Community budget, President Jacques Santer stated that a no vote would be tantamount to a vote of no confidence. The Socialist group supported the Commission and saw the issue as an attempt by the EPP to discredit their party ahead of the 1999 elections. Socialist leader, Pauline Green MEP, attempted a vote of confidence and the EPP put forward counter motions. During this period the two parties took on similar roles to a government-opposition dynamic, with the Socialists supporting the executive and EPP renouncing its previous coalition support and voting it down. [31]

Politicisation such as this has been increasing, in 2007 Simon Hix of the London School of Economics noted that: [15]

During the fifth term, 1999 to 2004, there was a break in the grand coalition resulting in a centre-right coalition between the Liberal and People’s parties. [81] This was reflected in the Presidency of the Parliament with the terms being shared between the EPP and the ELDR, rather than the EPP and Socialists. [82] In the following term the liberal group grew to hold 88 seats, the largest number of seats held by any third party in Parliament. [83]


Main article: Elections to the European Parliament



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