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What are political groups in the European Parliament and how are they formed?

The European Parliament regularly receives questions from citizens about its political groups.

Open Day 2017 in Brussels - Stands political groups

© European Union 2017 – Source : EP

In the European Parliament, Members do not act on the basis of nationality, but rather on the basis of political affinity. The Members, and the many political parties they represent, therefore form political groups that share similar values and agendas. These groups occupy specified seating zones in the European Parliament Chamber. Following the European elections in May 2019, seven political groups were formed in the European Parliament. Members who are not part of a political group are known as ‘non-attached’ Members.

This organisation into political groups contributes to the European Parliament’s operational capability and efficiency by preventing fragmentation and by facilitating the decision-making process; however, these groups do not operate as strong a system of group discipline as that found in most national parliaments.

The political groups in the European Parliament are not identical to European political parties. Although most of the national parties represented within a given political group are also members of the corresponding political party at EU level, some political groups bring together more than one European political party.

How are they formed?

Under the European Parliament’s rules of procedure, a political group is made up of a minimum of 25 Members elected from at least one quarter of EU countries (currently seven). A Member may not belong to more than one political group.

Members can form or dissolve a political group at any time during the parliamentary term. If the number of Members falls below the required threshold, the President, with the agreement of the heads of political groups, may allow it to continue to exist until the next sitting, provided that the members of the group continue to represent at least one fifth of EU countries (six) and the group has been in existence for longer than a year.

How are they funded?

Political groups (as well as non-attached Members) are provided with a secretariat funded from the budget of the European Parliament. 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).

Further information

Keep sending your questions to the Citizens’ Enquiries Unit (Ask EP)! We reply in the EU language that you use to write to us!

About Ask EP

The Citizens' Enquiries Unit provides information on the activities, powers and organisation of the European Parliament. You ask, we answer.

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The content of all documents (and articles) contained in this blog is the sole responsibility of the author and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily represent the official position of the European Parliament. It is addressed to the Members and staff of the EP for their parliamentary work. Reproduction and translation for non-commercial purposes are authorised, provided the source is acknowledged and the European Parliament is given prior notice and sent a copy.

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