The European Parliament (EP) adopts its positions by voting in plenary session on legislative and budgetary texts, as well as on own-initiative reports and other resolutions.
Voting in the plenary
During the vote on a parliamentary report or a resolution, the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) can change the text submitted to them by adopting amendments, which may seek to delete, reformulate, replace or add to the content of the text under consideration. MEPs first vote on each amendment individually and then on the whole text as amended.
In general, Members vote by show of hands in the plenary sessions, and the President of the sitting determines the majorities in each case. If the show of hands is unclear, the President calls for an electronic vote to secure a more precise result.
The Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament (in particular Rules 168-184) define the different voting operations (e.g. show of hands, electronic voting, roll call, secret ballot) and when they shall be applied.
The voting system used for roll-call votes records the name of each MEP who votes and whether he or she voted for or against, or abstained. As defined in the Rules of Procedure, roll-call votes are obligatory for the final vote on legislation and non-binding resolutions based on reports from EP’s committees. For other votes, a political group or at least 40 MEPs may request a roll-call vote the evening before the scheduled vote in the plenary session.
Publication of results of votes
The available “results of votes” and the “results of roll-call votes” are published as annexes to the minutes of the plenary sittings.
Explanations of votes in the plenary
At the end of voting time, Members who so request may take the floor again to give an explanation of vote and to make their analysis and explain their choice or that of their group. These explanations of votes are published in the plenary debates section of the European Parliament website under the date of the respective sitting.
General information about the functioning of the plenary is available on EP’s webpage “How plenary works“. EP’s “Guide to the plenary” provides detailed answers to practical and organisational questions concerning the operation of Parliament’s plenary sittings, including the organisation of voting, voting procedures and types of votes.
The European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) has published an infographic “The European Parliament 2009-14. Five years’ work in figures” aiming to give a succinct picture of some of the activities undertaken by the European Parliament over the most recent term, from July 2009 to May 2014.
Information on European Parliament’s voting results and the votes of individual MEPs are also available on external websites, such as VoteWatch Europe, which offers advanced search options and additional information. VoteWatch Europe is an independent website, so the European Parliament cannot assume any responsibility for its content.