The European Parliament represents approximately 500 million people and is the only EU institution directly elected by European citizens. Its main role is to ensure the democratic legitimacy of the European law. It is composed of representatives of the Union’s citizens elected by direct universal suffrage for a five-year period. The EU Parliament’s members ensure the democratic functioning of the EU institutions and represent the citizens’ interests in the European legislative process.
All EU citizens have the right to vote and stand as candidates in their Member State of residence .
The EU Parliament has three main functions:
- adopting and amending legislation on an equal footing with the Council of the EU;
- supervising the functioning of all EU institutions, bodies and organisms, in particular the Commission. It has the power to approve or reject the appointment of European Commissioners and to collectively censure the Commission;
- exercising the EU budgetary power together with the Council of the EU and therefore adjusting the EU expenditure .
At present, the European Parliament is made up of 751 members ( 750 plus the President) of which 73 from Italy . Next European elections will take place on 26 May 2019. In the future European Parliament the number of members will be reduced from 751 to 705 and the seats currently allocated to British members will be redistributed as a consequence of Brexit . Italy will increase the number of its representatives to 76 .
Members of the European Parliament are organized in pan-European political groups composed of representatives coming from all Member countries and not on basis of national coalitions. Such groups represent mainly their different points of view about the European integration process, from the most federalist to the openly euro-skeptic one .
The monthly plenary sessions take place in Strasbourg, which is the official seat of the Parliament while the meetings of parliamentary committees and extraordinary plenary sessions take place in Brussels. The administrative offices are in Luxembourg.
The current President of the European Parliament is Antonio Tajani, Italy, in office until July 2019.