Written by Eva-Maria Poptcheva
Updated in June 2015
Members of the European Parliament may form political groups; these are not organised by nationality, but by political affiliation. At the start of the current parliamentary term there were seven political groups in the Parliament, as there were throughout the 2009-14 period. The formation of a new, eighth, political group, to be called Europe of Nations and Freedoms, has been announced recently.
To form a political group, a minimum of 25 MEPs, elected from at least one quarter (currently seven) of the EU’s Member States is required. Those Members (MEPs) who do not belong to any political group are known as ‘non-attached’ (non-inscrits) Members.
Although the political groups play a very prominent role in Parliament’s life, individual MEPs and/or several MEPs acting together also have many rights, including in respect of the exercise of oversight over other EU institutions, such as the Commission. However, belonging to a political group is of a particular relevance for the allocation of key positions in Parliament’s political and organisational structures, such as committee and delegation chairs and rapporteurships on important dossiers. Moreover, political groups receive higher funding for their collective staff and parliamentary activities than the non-attached MEPs.
Political-group funding is however to be distinguished from funding granted to European political parties and foundations, which, if they comply with the requirements to register as such, may apply for funding from the European Parliament if they are represented in Parliament by at least one Member.
This briefing updates an earlier one of June 2014.