Find out more about who's representing you at the European Parliament...
Malta is represented by 6 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), elected by Maltese and EU citizens for each legislature. The European elections are held once every 5 years in each member state.
These are the Maltese MEPs currently in office, elected in May 2019. The upcoming MEP elections will be held in June 2024.
The European Parliament elected Maltese EPP (European People's Party) member Roberta Metsola as its new President in January 2022. Dr Metsola replaced the late David Sassoli, former President of the European Parliament from July 2019.
Where is Parliament based?
The European Parliament has three places of work: Brussels (Belgium), Luxembourg and Strasbourg (France).
Luxembourg is home to the administrative offices (the 'General Secretariat'). Meetings of the whole Parliament, known as "plenary sessions", take place in Strasbourg and sometimes in Brussels. Committee meetings are also held in Brussels.
What does Parliament do?
1. Debates Legislation
The EP jointly adopts EU law with the Council in many policy areas. The fact that the EP is directly elected by citizens helps to ensure the democratic legitimacy of European law.
The most common procedure for adopting EU legislation is the "co-decision" procedure. Under this procedure, the European Parliament and the Council have equal rights, and it applies to legislation in a wide range of areas.
In some areas (for example agriculture, economic policy, visas, and immigration), the Council legislates alone but must consult the Parliament. In addition, Parliament's approval is required for certain important decisions, such as admitting new countries to the EU.
Parliament also provides impetus for new legislation by reviewing the Commission's annual work programme, considering what new legislation would be appropriate, and inviting the Commission to submit proposals.
2. Democratic Supervision
Parliament exercises democratic control over the other EU institutions and, in particular, over the Commission. It has the power to approve or reject the appointment of Commissioners and the right to censure the Commission as a whole. Parliament exercises democratic control over the other European institutions. It does so in several ways.
When a new Commission takes office, its members are nominated by the governments of the EU member states, but they cannot be appointed without Parliament's consent. Parliament holds interviews with each of them, including the incoming Commission president, and then votes on whether to approve the Commission as a whole.
Throughout its term, the Commission is politically accountable to the Parliament, which can pass a "motion of censure", calling for the Commission's resignation.
More generally, Parliament exercises its control by regularly examining the reports sent to it by the Commission (the annual report, reports on the implementation of the budget, etc.). In addition, MEPs regularly pose questions to the Commission, which the Commissioners are legally obliged to answer.
Parliament also monitors the work of the Council: MEPs regularly ask questions of the Council, and the President of the Council attends plenary sessions of the EP and participates in important debates. Parliament can exercise further democratic control by considering petitions from citizens and setting up committees of inquiry.
Finally, the Parliament provides input to each EU summit (the meetings of the European Council). At the opening of each summit, the President of the Parliament is invited to present the Parliament's views and concerns on current issues and European Council agenda items.
3. Power of the Purse
The Parliament shares competence for the EU budget with the Council and can therefore influence EU spending. The EU's annual budget is adopted jointly by the Parliament and the Council. Parliament debates it in two successive readings and adopts or rejects the budget in its entirety at the end of the procedure. The budget enters into force only after it has been signed by the President of the European Parliament.
The Parliament's Committee on Budgetary Control (COCOBU) monitors the use of budgetary funds, and the Parliament decides each year whether to approve the Commission's budgetary management for the previous financial year. This approval process is technically referred to as the "granting of discharge".
How is Parliament's work organised?
The work of the EP can be divided into two main phases:
1. The preparation of the plenary session. This is done by MEPs in the various parliamentary committees, which specialise in certain areas of EU activity. The topics up for debate are also discussed in the political groups.
2. The plenary session itself. The plenary sessions are usually held in Strasbourg (one week per month) and sometimes in Brussels (only two days). At these sessions, Parliament considers proposed legislation and votes on amendments before deciding on the text as a whole.
Other items on the agenda may include communications from the Council or the Commission or questions about what is happening in the EU or in the world.
How is it elected?
Elections for the EP are held every 5 years, and MEPs are elected for a 5-year parliamentary term.
The elections are run according to national electoral laws and systems. This means that some countries apply a constituency system like in the UK, while in other states there is a system of proportional representation, such as The Netherlands or Malta.
Voting in the European elections is compulsory in countries such as Greece, Belgium and Luxembourg. However, the national electoral systems have much more in common when it comes to the rights of the voters, like the right to vote from age 18.
Since the Maastricht Treaty, each EU citizen can vote or stand for election in the country where he or she resides.