Written by Laura Tilindyte,
Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) may form political groups; these are organised not by nationality, but by political affiliation. Since the first direct elections in 1979, the number of political groups has fluctuated between seven and ten. Following the 2019 elections, the number, size and composition of political groups is likely to continue to fluctuate, as a result of the possible dissolution of some political groups and the creation of new ones.
To form a political group, a minimum of 25 MEPs, elected in at least one quarter (currently seven) of the EU’s Member States is required. Those Members 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 relation to the exercise of oversight over other EU institutions, such as the Commission. However, belonging to a political group is of particular relevance when it comes to 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, however, is distinct 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.
This briefing updates an earlier one, of June 2015, by Eva-Maria Poptcheva.
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Read the complete Briefing on ‘Rules on political groups in the EP‘ on the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.