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The European Parliament (abbreviated as Europarl or the EP) is the directly elected parliamentary institution of the European Union (EU). Together with the Council of the European Union (the Council) and the Commission, it exercises the legislative function of the EU and it has been described as one of the most powerful legislatures in the world.Dell Studio XPS 1640 Battery

The Parliament is composed of 736 MEPs (Members of the European Parliament), who serve the second largest democratic electorate in the world (after India) and the largest trans-national democratic electorate in the world (375 million eligible voters in 2009).Dell Latitude D830 Battery

It has been directly elected every five years by universal suffrage since 1979. Although the European Parliament has legislative power that such bodies as those above do not possess, it does not formally possess legislative initiative, as most state parliaments within the Union do.Toshiba Satellite M65 battery

Parliament is the "first institution" of the EU (mentioned first in the treaties, having ceremonial precedence over all authority at European level), and shares equal legislative and budgetary powers with the Council (except a few areas where the special legislative procedures apply). Toshiba NB100 Battery

It likewise has equal control over the EU budget. Finally, the European Commission, the executive body of the EU, is accountable to Parliament: in particular Parliament can veto it and its President and can force the body to resign.

The President of the European Parliament (Parliament's speaker) is currently Jerzy Buzek (EPP), elected in July 2009. Toshiba Satellite P10 Battery

He presides over a multi-party chamber, the two largest groups being the EPP and the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D). The last Union-wide elections were the2009 Parliamentary Elections. Parliament has two meeting places, namely the Louise Weiss building in Strasbourg, France, Sony VGP-BPS13B/B Battery

which serves for twelve four-day plenary sessions per year and is the official seat, and the Espace Léopold (Dutch: Leopoldruimte) complex in Brussels, Belgium, the larger of the two, which serves for committee meetings, political groups and complementary plenary sessions. Sony VGN-FW11S Battery

The Secretariat of the European Parliament, the Parliament's administrative body, is based in Luxembourg.

History

The Parliament, like the other institutions, was not designed in its current form when it first met on 10 September 1952. Hp pavilion dv6000 battery

One of the oldest common institutions, it began as the "Common Assembly" of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). It was a consultative assembly of 78parliamentarians drawn from the national parliaments of member states (see dual mandate), having no legislative powers.Sony Vaio VGN-FZ31S battery

This change since its foundation was highlighted by Professor David Farrell of the University of Manchester;

For much of its life, the European Parliament could have been justly labelled a 'multi-lingual talking shop'. But this is no longer the case: the EP is now one of the most powerful legislatures in the world both in terms of its legislative and executive oversight powers.Sony Vaio VGN-FZ31S battery

Its development since its foundation is a testament to the evolution of the Union's structures without one clear "master plan". Some such as Tom Reid of the Washington Post said of the Union, "nobody would have deliberately designed a government as complex and as redundant as the EU".HP NX8200 battery

Even the Parliament's two seats, which have switched several times, are a result of various agreements or lack of agreements.

Consultative assembly

The body was not mentioned in the original Schuman Declaration. It was assumed or hoped that difficulties with the British would be resolved to allow the Council of Europe's Assembly to perform the task. HP NX7400 battery

A separate Assembly was introduced during negotiations on the Treaty as an institution which would counterbalance and monitor the executive while providing democratic legitimacy.The wording of the ECSC Treaty demonstrated the leaders desire for more than a normal consultative assembly by using the term "representatives of the people" and allowed for direct election.HP NW8440 battery

Its early importance was highlighted when the Assembly was given the task of drawing up the draft treaty to establish a European Political Community. In this, the Ad Hoc Assembly was established on 13 September 1952 with extra members but after the failure of the proposed European Defence Community the project was dropped. HP NW8200 battery

Despite this the European Economic Community and Euratom were established in 1958 by the Treaties of Rome. The Common Assembly was shared by all three communities (which had separate executives) and it renamed itself the "European Parliamentary Assembly."HP NC6400 battery

The first meeting was held on 19 March 1958 having been set up in Luxembourg, it elected Schuman as its president and on 13 May it rearranged itself to set according to political ideology rather than nationality.This is seen as the birth of the modern European Parliament, with Parliament's 50 years celebrations being held in March 2008 rather than 2002.HP NC6200 battery

The three communities merged their remaining organs as the European Communities in 1967 and the body was renamed to the current "European Parliament" in 1962. In 1970 the Parliament was granted power over areas of the Community's budget, which were expanded to the whole budget in 1975.HP NC6100 battery

Under the Rome Treaties, the Parliament should have become elected. However the Council was required to agree a uniform voting system before hand, which it failed to do. The Parliament threatened to take the Council to the European Court of Justice leading to a compromise whereby the Council would agree to elections, but the issue of voting systems would be put off till a later date.HP NC6000 battery

Elected Parliament

In 1979, its members were directly elected for the first time. This sets it apart from similar institutions such as those of theParliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe or Pan-African Parliament which are appointed.HP NC4400 battery

After that first election, the parliament held its first session on 11 July 1979, electing Simone Veil MEP as its President. Veil was also the first female President of the Parliament since it was formed as the Common Assembly.

As an elected body, the Parliament began to draft proposals addressing the functioning of the EU. HP 6710B battery

For example in 1984, inspired by its previous work on the Political Community, it drafted the "draft Treaty establishing the European Union" (also known as the 'Spinelli Plan' after its rapporteur Altiero Spinelli MEP). Although it was not adopted, many ideas were later implemented by other treaties.HP 6530B battery

Furthermore the Parliament began holding votes on proposed Commission Presidents from the 1980s, before it was given any formal right to veto.

Since the election the membership of the European Parliament has simply expanded whenever new nations have joined (the membership was also adjusted upwards in 1994 after German reunification). HP 6510B battery

Following this the Treaty of Nice imposed a cap on the number of members to be elected, 732.

Like the other institutions, the Parliament's seat was not yet fixed. The provisional arrangements placed Parliament inStrasbourg, while the Commission and Council had their seats in Brussels. HP Pavilion DV6-1020ED Battery

In 1985 the Parliament, wishing to be closer to these institutions, built a second chamber in Brussels and moved some of its work there despite protests from some states. A final agreement was eventually reached by the European Council in 1992. It stated the Parliament would retain its formal seat in Strasbourg, Dell Latitude E6400 battery

where twelve sessions a year would be held, but with all other parliamentary activity in Brussels. This two seat arrangement was contested by Parliament but was later enshrined in the Treaty of Amsterdam. To this day the institution's locations are a source of contention.Apple A1281 battery

The Parliament gained more powers from successive treaties, namely through the extension of the ordinary legislative procedure(then called the codecision procedure), and in 1999, the Parliament forced the resignation of the Santer Commission.Apple A1280 battery

The Parliament had refused to approve the Community budget over allegations of fraud and mis-management in the Commission. The two main parties took on a government-opposition dynamic for the first time during the crisis which ended in the Commission resigning en masse, the first of any forced resignation, in the face of an impending censure from the Parliament. Dell LATITUDE D800 battery

Barroso I

In 2004, following the largest trans-national election in history, despite the European Council choosing a President from the largest political group (the EPP), the Parliament again exerted pressure on the Commission.Dell Inspiron 6400 AC Adapter

During the Parliament's hearings of the proposed Commissioners MEPs raised doubts about some nominees with the Civil liberties committee rejecting Rocco Buttiglione from the post of Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Securityover his views on homosexuality. Sony Vaio VGN-CR190E/L Battery

That was the first time the Parliament had ever voted against an incoming Commissioner and despite Barroso's insistence upon Buttiglione the Parliament forced Buttiglione to be withdrawn. A number of other Commissioners also had to be withdrawn or reassigned before Parliament allowed the Barroso Commission to take office.HP 448007-001 battery

The European parliament has suddenly flourished. It marks another shift in power between the three central EU institutions. Last week's vote suggests that the directly elected MEPs, in spite of their multitude of ideological, national and historical allegiances, have started to coalesce as a serious and effective EU institution, just as enlargement has greatly complicated negotiations inside both the Council and Commission.Sony VGP-BPS11 battery

The Lisbon Treaty finally came into force on 1 December 2009, granting Parliament powers over the entire of the EU budget, making Parliament's legislative powers equal to the Council's in nearly all areas and linking the appointment of the Commission President to Parliament's own elections.HP Pavilion DV6-1223EO Battery

Despite some calls for the parties to put forward candidates before hand, only the People's Party (who had re-secured their position as largest party) had one in re-endorsing Barroso.

Barroso gained the support of the European Council for a second term and secured majority support from the Parliament in September 2009.Compaq CQ35-100 battery

Parliament voted 382 votes in favour and 219 votes against (117 abstentions ) with support from the People's Party, Conservative & Reformists and the Liberals & Democrats. The liberals gave support after Barroso gave them a number of concessions; the liberals previously joined the socialists' call for a delayed vote (the EPP had wanted to approve Barroso in July of that year).HP DV9700 battery

Once Barroso put forward the candidates for his next Commission, another opportunity to gain concessions arose. Bulgarian nominee Rumiana Jeleva was forced to step down by Parliament due to concerns over her experience and financial interests. Sony VGP-BPS13 battery

She only had the support of the People's Party who began to retaliate on left wing candidates before Jeleva gave in and was replaced (setting back the final vote further).

Before the final vote, Parliament demanded a number of concessions as part of a future working agreement under the new Lisbon Treaty.HP Pavilion DV8 battery

The deal includes that Parliament's President will attend high level Commission meetings. Parliament will have a seat in the EU's Commission-lead international negotiations and have a right to information on agreements. However Parliament secured only an observer seat.Compaq CQ50 battery

Parliament also did not secure a say over the appointment of delegation heads andspecial representatives for foreign policy. Although they will be appear before parliament after they have been appointed by the High Representative. HP Pavilion DV7 battery

One major internal power was that Parliament wanted a pledge from the Commission that it would put forward legislation when parliament requests. Barroso considered this an infringement on the Commission's powers but did agree to respond within three months. Most requests are already responded to positively.Ibm THINKPAD X200 Battery

Powers and functions

The Parliament and Council can be regarded as two chambers in a bicameral legislative branch of the European Union, with law-making power being officially distributed equally between both parliamentary chambers. However there are some differences from national legislatures; Ibm THINKPAD X200 Battery

for example, neither the Parliament nor the Council have the power of legislative initiative (except for the fact that the Council has the power in some intergovernmental matters). In Community matters, this is a power uniquely reserved for the European Commission (the executive). Ibm THINKPAD X200 Battery

Therefore, while Parliament can amend and reject legislation, to make a proposal for legislation, it needs the Commission to draft a bill before anything can become law.However, the value of such a power is questioned, noting that only 15% of such initiatives in national parliaments become law due to the lack of executive support.SONY VAIO VGN-FW21E Battery

Yet it has been argued by former Parliament president Hans-Gert Pöttering that as the Parliament does have the right to ask the Commission to draft such legislation, and as the Commission is following Parliament's proposals more and more Parliament does have a de facto right of legislative initiative.Asus M52N Battery

The Parliament also has a great deal of indirect influence, through non-binding resolutions and committee hearings, as a "pan-European soapbox" with the ear of thousands of Brussels-based journalists. There is also an indirect effect on foreign policy; the Parliament must approve all development grants, including those overseas. Dell Latitude E6400 ATG Battery

For example, the support for post-war Iraq reconstruction, or incentives for the cessation of Iranian nuclear development, must be supported by the Parliament. Parliamentary support was also required for the transatlantic passenger data-sharing deal with the United States.SONY VAIO VGN-FW21L Battery

Legislative procedure

With each new treaty, the powers of the Parliament, in terms of its role in the Union's legislative procedures, have expanded. The procedure which has slowly become dominant is the "ordinary legislative procedure" (previously named "codecision procedure"), which provides an equal footing between Parliament and Council. SONY VAIO VGN-FW21M Battery

In particular, under the procedure, the Commission presents a proposal to Parliament and the Council which can only become law if both agree on a text, which they do (or not) through successive readings up to a maximum of three. In its first reading, Parliament may send amendments to the Council which can either adopt the text with those amendments or send back a "common position".SONY VAIO VGN-FW21Z Battery

That position may either be approved by Parliament, or it may reject the text by an absolute majority, causing it to fail, or it may adopt further amendments, also by an absolute majority. If the Council does not approve these, then a "Conciliation Committee" is formed. SONY VAIO VGN-FW33GW Battery

The Committee is composed of the Council members plus an equal number of MEPs who seek to agree a compromise. Once a position is agreed, it has to be approved by Parliament, by a simple majority.This is also aided by Parliament's mandate as the only directly democratic institution,Dell XPS M1210 Battery

which has given it leeway to have greater control over legislation than other institutions, for example over its changes to the Bolkestein directive in 2006.

The few other areas that operate the special legislative procedures are justice & home affairs, budget and taxation and certain aspects of other policy areas: such as the fiscal aspects of environmental policy.Dell KM958 battery

In these areas, the Council or Parliament decide law alone.The procedure also depends upon which type of institutional act is being used.The strongest act is a regulation, an act or lawwhich is directly applicable in its entirety. Then there are directives which bind member states to certain goals which they must achieve. Dell Studio 1555 battery

They do this through their own laws and hence have room to manoeuvre in deciding upon them. A decision is an instrument which is focused at a particular person or group and is directly applicable. Institutions may also issue recommendations and opinionswhich are merely non-binding, declarations.Sony VGP-BPS13 battery

There is a further document which does not follow normal procedures, this is a "written declaration" which is similar to an early day motion used in theWestminster system. It is a document proposed by up to five MEPs on a matter within the EU's activities used to launch a debate on that subject.Sony VGP-BPS13/S battery

Having been posted outside the entrance to the hemicycle, members can sign the declaration and if a majority do so it is forwarded to the President and announced to the plenary before being forwarded to the other institutions and formally noted in the minutes. Sony VGP-BPS13A/B battery

Budget

The legislative branch officially holds the Union's budgetary authority with powers gained through the Budgetary Treaties of the 1970s and the Lisbon Treaty. Sony VGP-BPS13B/B battery

The EU budget is subject to a form of the ordinary legislative procedure with a single reading giving Parliament power over the entire budget (before 2009, its influence was limited to certain areas) on an equal footing to the Council. If there is a disagreement between them, it is taken to a conciliation committee as it is for legislative proposals. Sony VGP-BPL9 battery

If the joint conciliation text is not approved, the Parliament may adopt it budget definitively.

The Parliament is also responsible for discharging the implementation of previous budgets based on the annual report of the European Court of Auditors. Sony VGP-BPS13B/B battery

It has refused to approve the budget only twice, in 1984 and in 1998. On the latter occasion it led to the resignation of the Santer Commission; highlighting how the budgetary power gives Parliament a great deal of power over the Commission. Parliament also makes extensive use of its budgetary, and other powers, elsewhere;Sony VGP-BPL15 battery

for example in the setting up of the European External Action Service, Parliament has a defacto veto over its design as it has to approve the budgetary and staff changes.

Control of the executive

Unlike most EU states, which usually operate parliamentary systems, HP Pavilion dv6000 Battery

there is a separation of powers between the executive and legislative which makes the European Parliament more akin to theUnited States Congress than an EU state legislature.The President of the European Commission is proposed by the European Council on the basis of the European elections to Parliament.HP Pavilion dv8000 battery

That proposal has to be approved by the Parliament (by a simple majority) who "elect" the President according to the treaties. Following the approval of the Commission President, the members of the Commission are proposed by the President in accord with the member-states. HP PAVILION DV6000 Battery

Each Commissioner comes before a relevant parliamentary committee hearing covering the proposed portfolio. They are then, as a body, approved or rejected by the Parliament.In practice, the Parliament has never voted against a President or his Commission, but it did seem likely when the Barroso Commission was put forward. HP PAVILION DV8000 Battery

The resulting pressure forced the proposal to be withdrawn and changed to be more acceptable to parliament.[27] That pressure was seen as an important sign by some of the evolving nature of the Parliament and its ability to make the Commission accountable, rather than being a rubber stamp for candidates.SONY VAIO VGN-FZ Battery

Furthermore, in voting on the Commission, MEPs also voted along party lines, rather than national lines, despite frequent pressure from national governments on their MEPs. This cohesion and willingness to use the Parliament's power ensured greater attention from national leaders, other institutions and the public—who previously gave the lowest ever turnout for the Parliament's elections.HP Pavilion DV6000 battery

The Parliament also has the power to censure the Commission if they have a two-thirds majority which will force the resignation of the entire Commission from office. As with approval, this power has never been used but it was threatened to the Santer Commission, who subsequently resigned of their own accord. HP Pavilion DV8000 battery

There are a few other controls, such as: the requirement of Commission to submit reports to the Parliament and answer questions from MEPs; the requirement of the President-in-office of the European Council to present their programme at the start of their presidency; the right of MEPs to make proposals for legislation and policy to the Commission and Council; HP Pavilion DV6000 battery

and the right to question members of those institutions (e.g. "Commission Question Time" every Tuesday).At present, MEPs may ask a question on any topic whatsoever, but in July 2008 MEPs voted to limit questions to those within the EU's mandate and ban offensive or personal questions.HP Pavilion DV8000 battery

Supervisory powers

The Parliament also has other powers of general supervision, mainly granted by the Maastricht Treaty. The Parliament has the power to set up a Committee of Inquiry, for example over mad cow disease or CIA detention flights—the former led to the creation of the European veterinary agency. SONY VAIO VGN-FZ18 Battery

The Parliament can call other institutions to answer questions and if necessary to take them to court if they break EU law or treaties.Furthermore it has powers over the appointment of the members of the Court of Auditors and the president and executive board of the European Central Bank. SONY VAIO VGN-FZ21E Battery

TheECB president is also obliged to present an annual report to the parliament.

The European Ombudsman is elected by the Parliament, who deals with public complaints against all institutions. Petitions can also be brought forward by any EU citizen on a matter within the EU's sphere of activities.SONY VAIO VGN-FW31J Battery

The Committee on Petitions hears cases, some 1500 each year, sometimes presented by the citizen themselves at the Parliament. While the Parliament attempts to resolve the issue as a mediator they do resort to legal proceedings if it is necessary to resolve the citizens dispute.SONY VAIO VGN-FW31J Battery

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The parliamentarians are known in English as Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). They are elected every five years by universal adult suffrage and sit according to political allegiance; about a third are women. Before 1979 they were appointed by their national parliaments.SONY VAIO VGN-FW21E Battery

As states are allocated seats according to population, the maximum number of MEPs is 736. However, enlargements may lead to this number being exceeded until the following election, for example between 2007 and 2009 due to the accession of Romania and Bulgaria however the rules are due to be changed under the Treaty of Lisbon.SONY VAIO VGN-NR11S/S Battery

Under Lisbon, there will be 751 members (however, as the President cannot vote while in the chair there will only be 750 voting members at any one time).In addition, the maximum number of seats allocated to a state will be lowered to ninety-six, from the current ninety-nine, and the minimum number of seats will be raised to six, from the current five. SONY VAIO VGN-NR11M/S Battery

These seats are distributed according to "degressive proportionality", meaning that the larger the state, the more citizens that are represented per MEP. It is intended that the new system, including revising the seating well before elections, can avoid political horse trading when the numbers have to be revised.SONY VAIO VGN-NR11Z/S Battery

Due to the delay in ratifying the Lisbon Treaty the seventh parliament was elected under the lower Nice Treaty cap. Parliament wishes to get the new higher number of members elected although this may require a treaty adjustment to allow for an extra election.Sony VAIO VGN-FW21E Battery

Germany would be the only state to lose members, these extra seats would not be removed until the 2014 election.

Before 2009, members received the same salary as members of their national parliament. However as of 2009 a new members statute came into force, after years of attempts, Sony VAIO VGN-NR11S/S Battery

which gives all members an equal monthly pay of 7,000 euro each, subject to a community tax and can also be taxed nationally. MEPs would retire at 63 and receive the whole of their pension from the Parliament. Travelling expenses would also be given based on actual cost rather than a flat rate as happens now.Sony VAIO VGN-NR11Z/S Battery

Besides their pay, members are granted a number of privileges and immunities. To ensure their free movement to and from the Parliament, they are accorded by their own states the facilities accorded to senior officials travelling abroad and by other state governments the facilities of visiting foreign representatives. Sony VAIO VGN-NR11M/S Battery

When in their own state they have all the immunities accorded to national parliamentarians, and in other states they have immunity from detention and legal proceedings. However immunity cannot be claimed when a member is found committing a criminal offence and the Parliament also has the right to strip a member of their immunity.Sony VAIO VGN-NR11Z/T Battery

Political groups

MEPs in Parliament are organised into seven different parliamentary groups, including over thirty non-attached members known as non-inscrits. The two largest groups are the European People's Party (EPP) and the Socialists & Democrats (S&D). SONY VAIO VGN-FZ180E Battery

These two groups have dominated the Parliament for much of its life, continuously holding between 50 and 70 percent of the seats together. No single group has ever held a majority in Parliament.As a result of being broad alliances of national parties,SONY VAIO VGN-FZ220E Battery

European groups parties are very decentralised and hence have more in common with parties in federal states like Germany or the United States than unitary states like the majority of the EU states. Although, the European groups, between 2004 and 2009, were actually more cohesive than their US counterparts.SONY VAIO VGN-FZ340E Battery

Groups are often based on a single European political party such as the socialist group (before 2009). However they can, like theliberal group, include more than one European party as well as national parties and independents. For a group to be recognised, it needs 25 MEPs from seven different countries.SONY VAIO VGN-FZ460E Battery

Once recognised, groups receive financial subsidies from the parliament and guaranteed seats on Committees, creating an incentive for the formation of groups. However some controversy occurred with the establishment of the Identity, Tradition, Sovereignty (ITS) due to its ideology; SONY VAIO VGN-FZ480E Battery

the members of the group are far-right, so there were concerns about public funds going towards such a group.There were attempts to change the rules to block the formation of ITS, but that never came to fruition. They were, however, blocked from gaining leading positions on committees—a right that is meant to be afforded to all parties.SONY VAIO VGN-FZ31E Battery

When this group engaged in infighting, causing the withdrawal of some members, its size fell below the recognisable limit causing its collapse.

Grand coalition

Given that the Parliament does not form the government in the traditional sense of a Parliamentary system,SONY VAIO VGN-FZ31B Battery

its politics have developed along more consensual lines rather than majority rule of competing parties and coalitions, again being more similar to the German Bundestag or Austrian Nationalrat than to a Westminster or French style Parliamentary system.SONY VAIO VGN-FZ31J Battery

Indeed for much of its life it has been dominated by a grand coalition of the People's Party and Socialist Party. The two major parties tend to co-operate to find a compromise between their two groups leading to proposals endorsed by huge majorities. However there have been some occasions where real party politics have emerged, for example over the resignation of the Santer Commission;SONY VAIO VGN-FZ31M Battery

When the initial allegations against the Commission emerged, they were directed primarily against Édith Cresson and Manuel Marín, both socialist members. When the parliament was considering refusing to discharge the Community budget, President Jacques Santer stated that a no vote would be tantamount to a vote of no confidence.SONY VAIO VGN-FZ31Z Battery

The Socialist group supported the Commission and saw the issue as an attempt by the EPP to discredit their party ahead of the 1999 elections. Socialist leader, Pauline Green MEP, attempted a vote of confidence and the EPP put forward counter motions. During this period the two parties took on similar roles to a government-opposition dynamic, SONY VAIO VGN-FZ38M Battery

with the Socialists supporting the executive and EPP renouncing its previous coalition support and voting it down. Politicisation such as this has been increasing, in 2007 Simon Hix of the London School of Economics noted that:

Our work also shows that politics in the European Parliament is becoming increasingly based around party and ideology. SONY VGP-BPS8 Battery

Voting is increasingly split along left-right lines, and the cohesion of the party groups has risen dramatically, particularly in the fourth and fifth parliaments. So there are likely to be policy implications here too.

During the fifth term, 1999 to 2004, there was a break in the grand coalition resulting in a centre-right coalition between the Liberal and People's parties.SONY VGP-BPS13/S Battery

This was reflected in the Presidency of the Parliament with the terms being shared between the EPP and the ELDR, rather than the EPP and Socialists. In the following term the liberal group grew to hold 88 seats, the largest number of seats held by any third party in Parliament. SONY VGP-BPS13A/B Battery

Elections

Elections have taken place, directly in every member-state, every five years since 1979. As of 2009 there have been seven. Occasionally, when a nation joins mid-term, a by-election will be held to elect their representatives. SONY VGP-BPS13B/B Battery

This has happened four times, most recently when Romania and Bulgaria joined in 2007 (see below). Elections take place across several days according to local custom and, besides having to be proportional, the electoral system is chosen by the member-state.SONY VGP-BPS13A/S Battery

This includes allocation of sub-national constituencies; while most members have a national list, some, like the UK and France, divide their allocation between regions. Seats are allocated to member-states according to their population, with no state having more than 99, but no fewer than 5, to maintain proportionality.SONY VGP-BPS13AS Battery

The most recent Union-wide elections to the European Parliament were the European elections of 2009, held in June of that year. They were the largest simultaneous transnational elections ever held anywhere in the world, since nearly 380 million citizens were eligible to vote. Dell Inspiron 1320n Battery

The proportion of MEPs elected in 2004 who were female was 30.2%; in 1979 it was just 16.5%. There are a number of proposals to "dress up" the elections to attract greater public attention to them. These include most notably the idea of linking them more closely to the Commission presidency. SONY VGP-BPS13AS Battery

This would be by having political parties running with candidates for the job, so the largest party would essentially be forming the government, as in the parliamentary system of government. This was attempted in 2004, however only the European Green Party, which was the first true pan-European party to be established with a common campaign,Dell Inspiron 1320n Battery

proposed a candidate for the post of President: Daniel Cohn-Bendit. Meanwhile, the closest any other party had come in that election was when the People's Party mentioned four or five people they'd like to be President. In 2009, the incumbent President Barroso was formally nominated by the EPP,Dell Studio 1450 Battery

yet the Socialists were unable to agree on a candidate, in part due to national socialist leaders backing Barroso, leading to there only being one declared candidate (whose party formed the largest group regardless).

It is hoped such changes would add legitimacy and counter the falling turnout which has dropped consistently every year since the first election, and from 1999 it has been below 50%.Dell Studio 1457 Battery

In 2007 both Bulgaria and Romania elected their MEPs in by-elections, having joined at the beginning of 2007. The Bulgarian and Romanian elections saw two of the lowest turnouts for European elections, just 28.6% and 28.3% respectively. Dell Latitude D610 Battery

Proceedings

Each year the activities of the Parliament cycle between committee weeks where reports are discussed in committees and interparliamentary delegations meet, political group weeks for members to discuss work within their political groups and session weeks where members spend 3½ days in Strasbourg for part-sessions. Dell Studio 1457 Battery

In addition six 2-day part-sessions are organised in Brussels throughout the year. Four weeks are allocated as constituency week to allow members to do exclusively constituency work. Finally there are no meetings planned during the summer weeks. The Parliament has the power to meet without being convened by another authority. Toshiba Satellite M60 battery

Its meetings are partly controlled by the treaties but are otherwise up to Parliament according to its own "Rules of Procedure" (the regulations governing the parliament).

During sessions, members may speak after being called on by the President, with a time limit of one minute. Dell Latitude D830 Battery

Members of the Council or Commission may also attend and speak in debates. Partly due to the need for translation, and the politics of consensus in the chamber, debates tend to be calmer and more polite than, say, the Westminster system. Voting is conducted primarily by a show of hands, that may be checked on request by electronic voting.Dell Latitude D620 Battery

Votes of MEPs are not recorded in either case however, that only occurs when there is a roll-call ballot. That is when each MEP in turn is called by name, in alphabetical order, to state their support or opposition: it is only used for certain important votes or when a political group of approximately one fifth of all MEPs requests it,Dell Inspiron Mini 10 Battery

but the number of roll-call votes has increased with time. Votes can also be a completely secret ballot (for example when the President is elected). All recorded votes, along with minutes and legislation, are recorded in the Official Journal of the European Union and can be accessed online.Sony VGN-FW11S Battery

Votes usually do not follow a debate, but rather they are grouped with other due votes on specific occasions, usually at noon on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays. This is because the length of the vote is unpredictable and if it continues for longer than allocated it can disrupt other debates and meetings later in the day.Sony VGN-FW11M Battery

Members are arranged in a hemicycle according to their political groups (in the Common Assembly, prior to 1958, members sat alphabetically ) who are ordered mainly by left to right, but some smaller groups are placed towards the outer ring of the Parliament. All desks are equipped with microphones, headphones for translation and electronic voting equipment.Sony VGN-FW139E/H battery

The leaders of the groups sit on the front benches at the centre, and in the very centre is a podium for guest speakers. The remaining half of the circular chamber is primarily composed of the raised area where the President and staff sit. Further benches are provided between the sides of this area and the MEPs, Dell Latitude E5400 Battery

these are taken up by the Council on the far left and the Commission on the far right. Both the Brussels and Strasbourg hemicycle roughly follow this layout with only minor differences. The hemicycle design is a compromise between the different Parliamentary systems. Dell Latitude E4200 Battery

The British-based system has the different groups directly facing each other while the French-based system is a semicircle (and the traditional German system had all members in rows facing a rostrum for speeches). Although the design is mainly based on a semicircle, the opposite ends of the spectrum do still face each other.Dell Inspiron 300M Battery

With access to the chamber limited, entrance is controlled by ushers who aid MEPs in the chamber (for example in delivering documents). The ushers also act as a form of police in enforcing the President, for example in ejecting an MEP who is disrupting the session (although this is rare). Dell Studio 1737 battery

The first head of protocol in the Parliament was French, so many of the duties in the Parliament are based on the French model first developed following the French Revolution. The 180 ushers are highly visible in the Parliament, dressed in black tails and wearing a silver chain, and are recruited in the same manner as theEuropean civil service.Dell Inspiron E1505 battery

The President is allocated a personal usher.

President and organisation

The President, currently Jerzy Buzek MEP of the EPP, is essentially the speaker of the Parliament. He or she presides over the plenary when it is in session and the President's signature is required for all acts adopted by co-decision, including the EU budget. Dell RM791 battery

The President is also responsible for representing the Parliament externally, including in legal matters, and for the application of the rules of procedure. He or she is elected for two-and-a-half-year terms, meaning two elections per parliamentary term. Acer Aspire One battery 10400mAh

In most countries, the protocol of the head of state comes before all others, however in the EU the Parliament is listed as the first institution, and hence the protocol of its President comes before any other European, or national, protocol. The gifts given to numerous visiting dignitaries depend upon the Presi

dent. Dell Precision M70 Battery

President Josep Borrell MEP of Spain gave his counterparts a crystal cup created by an artist from Barcelona who had engraved upon it parts of the Charter of Fundamental Rights among other things.

A number of notable figures have been President of the Parliament and its predecessors. SONY VGN -FZ210CE Battery

The first President was Paul-Henri Spaak MEP, one of thefounding fathers of the Union. Other founding fathers include Alcide de Gasperi MEP and Robert Schuman MEP. The two female Presidents were Simone VeilMEP in 1979 (first President of the elected Parliament) and Nicole Fontaine MEP in 1999, both Frenchwomen.Toshiba Satellite L305 Battery

The current president, Jerzy Buzek is the first East-Central European to lead an EU institution, a former Prime Minister of Poland who rose out of the Solidarity movement in Poland that helped overthrow communism in the Eastern Bloc.

During the election of a President, the previous President (or, if unable to, one of the previous Vice-Presidents) presides over the chamber.Toshiba Satellite T4900 Battery

Prior to 2009, the oldest member fulfilled this role but the rule was changed to prevent far-right French MEP Jean-Marie Le Pen taking the chair.

Below the President, there are 14 Vice-Presidents who chair debates when the President is not in the chamber.Toshiba PA3399U-2BRS battery

There are a number of other bodies and posts responsible for the running of parliament besides these speakers. The two main bodies are the Bureau, which is responsible for budgetary and administration issues, and the Conference of Presidents which is a governing body composed of the presidents of each of the parliament's political groups. Sony VGP-BPS10 battery

Looking after the financial and administrative interests of members are six Quaestors.

As of 2011, the European Parliament budget was EUR 1,686 billion.

Committees and delegations

The Parliament has 20 Standing Committees consisting of 28 to 86 MEPs each (reflecting the political makeup of the whole Parliament) including a Chairman, a bureau and secretariat. Sony VGP-BPS9 battery

They meet twice a month in public to draw up, amend to adopt legislative proposals and reports to be presented to the plenary.The rapporteurs for a committee are supposed to present the view of the committee, although notably this has not always been the case. Sony VGP-BPS11 battery

In the events leading to the resignation of the Santer Commission, the rapporteur went against the Budgetary Control Committee's narrow vote to discharge the budget, and urged the Parliament to reject it.

Committees can also set up sub-committees (e.g. the Subcommittee on Human Rights) and temporary committees to deal with a specific topic (e.g. onextraordinary rendition).Sony VGP-BPS22 battery

The chairs of the Committees co-ordinate their work through the "Conference of Committee Chairmen". When co-decision was introduced it increased the Parliaments powers in a number of areas, but most notably those covered by the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety. Sony VGP-BPL8 battery

Previously this committee was considered by MEPs as a "Cinderella committee", however as it gained a new importance, it became more professional and rigorous attracting increasing attention to its work.

The nature of the committees differ from their national counterparts as, although smaller in comparison to those of the United States Congress, Sony VGP-BPS14 battery

the European Parliament's committees are unusually large by European standards with between eight and twelve dedicated members of staff and three to four support staff. Considerable administration, archives and research resources are also at the disposal of the whole Parliament when needed. Sony VGP-BPS21 battery

Delegations of the Parliament are formed in a similar manner and are responsible for relations with Parliaments outside the EU. There are 34 delegations made up of around 15 MEPs, chairpersons of the delegations also cooperate in a conference like the committee chairs do.Toshiba Satellite A200 Battery

They include "Interparliamentary delegations" (maintain relations with Parliament outside the EU), "joint parliamentary committees" (maintaining relations with parliaments of states which are candidates or associates of the EU), the delegation to the ACP EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly and the delegation to the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly.Toshiba Satellite M300 Battery

MEPs also participate in other international activities such as the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly, theTransatlantic Legislators' Dialogue and through election observation in third countries.

Translation and interpreting

Speakers in the European Parliament are entitled to speak in any of the EU's 23 official languages, ranging from English and German to Maltese and Irish. Toshiba Satellite 1200 Battery

Simultaneous interpreting is offered in all plenary sessions, and all final texts of legislation are translated. With twenty-three languages, the European Parliament is the most multilingual parliament in the world and the biggest employer of interpreters in the world (employing 350 full time and 400 free-lancers when there is higher demand).SONY VGP-BPS13A/Q Battery

Citizens may also address the Parliament in Basque, Catalan/Valencian andGalician.

Usually a language is translated from a foreign tongue into a translator's native tongue. Due to the large number of languages, some being minor ones, since 1995 translation is sometimes done the opposite way, out of a translator's native tongue (the "retour" system). SONY VGP-BPS13A/Q Battery

In addition, a speech in a minor language may be translated through a third language for lack of interpreters ("relay" interpreting) —for example, when translating Estonian into Maltese. Interpreters need to be proficient in two other Union languages besides their native language.SONY VGP-BPS13/Q Battery

Due to the complexity of the issues, translation is not word for word. Instead, interpreters have to convey the political meaning of a speech, regardless of their own views. This requires detailed understanding of the politics and terms of the Parliament, involving a great deal of preparation beforehand (e.g. reading the documents in question). SONY VGP-BPS13/Q Battery

Difficulty can often arise when MEPs use colourful language, jokes and word play or speak too fast.

While some see speaking their native language as an important part of their identity, and can speak more fluently in debates, the translation and the cost of it has been criticised by some. SONY VGP-BPS21A/B Battery

A 2006 report by Alexander Stubb MEP highlighted that by only using English, French and German costs could be reduced from €118,000 per day (for 21 languages then—Romanian and Bulgarian having not yet been included) to €8,900 per day. SONY VGP-BPS21/S Battery

Although many see the ideal single language as being English due to its widespread usage, there is a campaign to make French the single tongue for all legal texts, due to the view that it is more clear and precise for legal purposes. Although this would not directly affect translation in the plenary, it would shift the balance towards French when discussing draft legislation.SONY VGP-BPS21B Battery

Because the proceedings are translated into all of the official EU languages, they have been used to make a multilingual corpus known as Europarl. It is widely used to train statistical machine translation systems.

Seat

The Parliament is based in three different cities with numerous buildings. SONY VGP-BPS21A Battery

A protocol attached to the Treaty of Amsterdam requires that 12 plenary sessions be held in Strasbourg (none in August but two in September), which is the Parliament's official seat, while extra part sessions as well as committee meetings are held in Brussels. Luxembourg hosts the Secretariat of the European Parliament.SONY VGP-BPS21 Battery

The European Parliament is the only assembly in the world with more than one meeting place and one of the few that cannot decide its own location.

The Strasbourg seat is seen as a symbol of reconciliation between France and Germany, the Strasbourg region having been fought over by the two countries in the past. Sony VGP-BPS21A/B Battery

However it is questioned over the cost of having two seats for the parliament. While Strasbourg is the official seat, and sits alongside the Council of Europe (with which the "mutual cooperation" is being continuously "fostered"), Brussels is home to nearly all other major EU institutions, with the majority of Parliament's work already being carried out there. Sony VGP-BPS21/S Battery

Therefore despite Strasbourg being the main seat, it is the one most questioned, although some do believe Strasbourg should be the single capital.

Critics have described the two-seat arrangement as a "travelling circus", and there is a strong movement to establish Brussels as the sole seat.Sony VGP-BPS21A Battery

This is because the other political institutions (the Commission, Council and European Council) are located there, and hence Brussels is treated as the 'capital' of the EU. This movement has received strong backing through numerous figures, including the Commission First-Vice President who stated that "Sony VGP-BPS21 Battery

something that was once a very positive symbol of the EU reuniting France and Germany has now become a negative symbol—of wasting money, bureaucracy and the insanity of the Brussels institutions". The Green party has also noted the environmental cost in a study led by Jean Lambert MEP and Caroline Lucas MEP;SONY VAIO VGN-FW31J Battery

in addition to the extra 200 million euro spent on the extra seat, there are over 20,268 tonnes of additional carbon dioxide, undermining any environmental stance of the institution and the Union. The campaign is further backed by a million-strong online petition started by Cecilia Malmström MEP.SONY VAIO VGN-FW31E Battery

In 2006 there were allegations of irregularity in the charges made by the city of Strasbourg on buildings the Parliament rented which harmed the city's image further. A poll of MEPs also found 89% of the respondents (39%) wanting a single seat, and 81% preferring Brussels.SONY VAIO VGN-FW31B Battery

Another, more academic, survey found 68% support. However, as Parliament's seat is fixed by the treaties, it can only be changed by the Council unanimously, meaning it could be vetoed by a single country: notably, France. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has stated that its seat is "non-negotiable", having no intention of surrendering the French based seat.SONY VAIO VGN-FW31M Battery

In early 2011, the Parliament voted to scrap one of the Strasbourg sessions by holding two within a single week. The mayor of Strasbourg officially reacted by stating "we will counter-attack by upturning the adversary's strength to our own profit, as a judoka would do."SONY VAIO VGN-FW31Z Battery

The Council of Europe (French: Conseil de l'Europe) is an international organisation promoting co-operation between all countries of Europe in the areas of legal standards, human rights, democratic development, the rule of law and cultural co-operation.Dell Inspiron 6400 AC Adapter

It was founded in 1949, has 47 member states with some 800 million citizens, and is an entirely separate body from the European Union (EU), which has only 27 member states. Unlike the EU, the Council of Europe cannot make binding laws. The two do however share certain symbols such as the flag of Europe. Dell LATITUDE D800 battery

The Council of Europe has nothing to do with either the Council of the European Union or the European Council, which are both EU bodies.

The best known bodies of the Council of Europe are the European Court of Human Rights, which enforces the European Convention on Human Rights, Dell Inspiron Mini 12 battery

and the European Pharmacopoeia Commission, which sets the quality standards for pharmaceutical products in Europe. The Council of Europe's work has resulted in standards, charters and conventions to facilitate cooperation between European countries.Dell Inspiron 1720 battery

Its statutory institutions are the Committee of Ministers comprising the foreign ministers of each member state, the Parliamentary Assembly composed ofMPs from the Parliament of each member state, and the Secretary General heading the secretariat of the Council of Europe. Dell Inspiron 1564 battery

The Commissioner for Human Rights is an independent institution within the Council of Europe, mandated to promote awareness of and respect for human rights in the member states.

The headquarters of the Council of Europe are in Strasbourg, France, with English and French as its two official languages. Dell Inspiron 1464 battery

The Committee of Ministers, the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress also use German, Italian, and Russian for some of their work.

History

In 1945, at the end of the Second World War, Europe was marked by unprecedented devastation and human suffering. Dell XPS 1340 battery

It faced new political challenges, in particular reconciliation among the peoples of Europe. This situation favoured the long-held idea of European integration through the creation of common institutions.

In a speech at the University of Zurich on 19 September 1946, Sir Winston Churchill called for a "kind of United States of Europe" and the creation of a Council of Europe.Dell INSPIRON 9100 battery

He had spoken of a Council of Europe as early as 1943 in a radio broadcast.

The future structure of the Council of Europe was discussed at a specific congress of several hundred leading politicians, government representatives and civil society in The Hague, Netherlands, in 1948. Dell Inspiron N4010 battery

There were two schools of thought competing: some favoured a classical international organisation with representatives of governments, while others preferred a political forum with parliamentarians. Both approaches were finally combined through the creation of the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly under the Statute of the Council of Europe. Dell N3010 battery

This dual intergovernmental and inter-parliamentary structure was later copied for the European Communities, NATO and the OSCE.

The Council of Europe was founded on 5 May 1949 by the Treaty of London. The Treaty of London or the Statute of the Council of Europe was signed in London on that day by ten states: HP Pavilion DV6-1210SA battery

Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Many other states followed, especially after the democratic transitions in central and eastern Europe during the early 1990s, and the Council of Europe now includes all European states exceptBelarus, Kazakhstan, Vatican City and the states with limited recognition. HP Pavilion DM4 battery

Aims and achievements

Article 1(a) of the Statute states that "The aim of the Council of Europe is to achieve a greater unity between its members for the purpose of safeguarding and realising the ideals and principles which are their common heritage and facilitating their economic and social progress." HP Pavilion DM3 battery

Therefore, membership is open to all European states which seek European integration, accept the principle of the rule of law and are able and willing to guarantee democracy, fundamental human rights andfreedoms.

While the member states of the European Union transfer national legislative and executive powers to the European Commission and the European Parliament in specific areas under European Community law,Compaq CQ35-100 battery

Council of Europe member states maintain their sovereignty but commit themselves through conventions (i.e. public international law) and co-operate on the basis of common values and common political decisions. Those conventions and decisions are developed by the member states working together at the Council of Europe, HP DV9700 battery

whereas secondary European Community law is set by the organs of the European Union. Both organisations function as concentric circles around the common foundations for European integration, with the Council of Europe being the geographically wider circle.HP Compaq 491278-001 battery

The European Union could be seen as the smaller circle with a much higher level of integration through the transfer of powers from the national to the EU level. Being part of public international law, Council of Europe conventions could also be opened for signature to non-member states thus facilitating equal co-operation with countries outside Europe (see chapter below).HP Compaq HSTNN-LB51 battery

The Council of Europe's most famous achievement is the European Convention on Human Rights, which was adopted in 1950 following a report by the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly. The Convention created the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.HP Pavilion ZD8227 battery

The Court supervises compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights and thus functions as the highest European court for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It is to this court that Europeans can bring cases if they believe that a member country has violated their fundamental rights.HP Compaq Business Notebook TC4400 battery

The wide activities and achievements of the Council of Europe can be found in detail on its official website. In a nutshell, the Council of Europe works in the following areas:

  • Protection of the rule of law and fostering legal co-operation through some 200 conventions and other treaties, including such leading instruments as theConvention on Cybercrime, HP Pavilion DV7-2085EL battery
  • the Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism, the Conventions against Corruption and Organised Crime, the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, and the Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine.
  • CODEXTER, designed to co-ordinate counter-terrorism measures Compaq Presario 300 battery
  • The European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ)
  • Protection of human rights, notably through:
    • the European Convention on Human Rights
    • the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture HP Compaq Business Notebook 6735S battery
    • the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings
    • the Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse
    • social rights under the European Social Charter
    • linguistic rights under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages HP Pavilion DV2820EA battery
    • minority rights under the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities
    • Media freedom under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Convention on Transfrontier Television HP Pavilion DV6373EA battery
  • Protection of democracy through parliamentary scrutiny and election monitoring by its Parliamentary Assembly as well as assistance in democratic reforms, in particular by the Venice Commission. HP Compaq 572190-001 battery
  • Promotion of cultural co-operation and diversity under the Council of Europe's Cultural Convention of 1954 and several conventions on the protection of cultural heritage as well as through its Centre for Modern Languages in Graz, Austria, and its North-South Centre in Lisbon, Portugal.Compaq Presario CQ50-105EL battery
  • Promotion of the right to education under Article 2 of the first Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights and several conventions on the recognition of university studies and diplomas (see also Bologna Process and Lisbon Recognition Convention).HP Pavilion DV7-1290EO battery
  • Promotion of fair sport through the Anti-Doping Convention and the Convention against Spectator Violence.
  • Promotion of European youth exchanges and co-operation through European Youth Centres in Strasbourg and Budapest, Hungary.Compaq Presario CQ71 battery
  • Promotion of the quality of medicines throughout Europe by the European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines and its European Pharmacopoeia.

Institutions

The institutions of the Council of Europe are: HP Pavilion DV6000 battery

  • The Secretary General, who is elected for a term of five years by the Parliamentary Assembly and heads the Secretariat of the Council of Europe. The current Secretary General is the former Prime Minister of Norway, Thorbjørn Jagland, who took office on 1 October 2009.Compaq Presario CQ70 battery
  • The Committee of Ministers, comprising the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of all 47 member states who are represented by their Permanent Representatives and Ambassadors accredited to the Council of Europe. Committee of Ministers' presidencies are held in alphabetical order for six months following the English alphabet:HP Compaq 491278-001 battery
  •  Turkey 11/2010-05/2011, Ukraine 05/2011-11/2011, the United Kingdom 11/2011-05/2012, Albania 05/2012-11/2012, Andorra 11/2012-05/2013, Armenia 05/2013-11/2013, Austria 11/2013-05/2014, and so on.HP TouchSmart TX2-1150EG battery
  • The Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), which comprises national parliamentarians from all member states and elects its President for a year with the possibility of being re-elected for another year. In January 2010, Mevlüt Çavu?o?lu from Turkey was elected President of the Parliamentary Assembly. HP 520 battery
  • National parliamentary delegations to the Assembly must reflect the political spectrum of their national parliament, i.e. comprise government and opposition parties. The Assembly appoints members as rapporteurs with the mandate to prepare parliamentary reports on specific subjects. Asus ADP-36EH C Adapter
  • The British MP Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe was rapporteur for the drafting of the European Convention on Human Rights. Dick Marty's reports on secret CIA detentions and rendition flights in Europe became quite famous in 2007. Other Assembly rapporteurs were instrumental in, for example, Dell PA-10 Adapter
  • the abolition of the death penalty in Europe, the political and human rights situation in Chechnya, disappeared persons in Belarus, freedom of expression in the media and many other subjects.
  • The Congress of the Council of Europe (Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe), which was created in 1994 and comprises political representatives from local and regional authorities in all member states.Delta ADP-90FB Adapter
  •  The most influential instruments of the Council of Europe in this field are the European Charter of Local Self-Government of 1985 and the European Outline Convention on Transfrontier Co-operation between Territorial Communities or Authorities of 1980.http://www.battery-pack.co.uk/
  • The European Court of Human Rights, created under the European Convention on Human Rights of 1950, is composed of a judge from each member state elected for a renewable term of six years by the Parliamentary Assembly and is headed by the elected President of the Court. Delta ADP-90FB Adapter
  • Since 2007, Jean-Paul Costa from France is the President of the Court. Under the new Protocol No. 14 to theEuropean Convention on Human Rights, the terms of office of judges shall be nine years but non-renewable. Ratification of Protocol No. 14 was delayed by Russia for a number of years, but won support to be passed in January 2010.Dell PA-10 Adapter
  • The Commissioner for Human Rights, who is elected by the Parliamentary Assembly for a non-renewable term of six years since the creation of this position in 1999. This position is held since 2006 by Thomas Hammarberg from Sweden.Dell PA-12 Adapter
  • The Conference of INGOs. NGOs (NGOs) can participate in the INGOs Conference of the Council of Europe. Since the [Resolution (2003)8] adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 19 November 2003, they are given a "participatory status".
  • Information Offices of the Council of Europe in many member states.Asus ADP-36EH C Adapter

The CoE system also includes a number of semi-autonomous structures known as "Partial Agreements", some of which are also open to non-member states:

  • The Council of Europe Development Bank in Paris Dell Inspiron 6400 Adapter
  • The European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines with its European Pharmacopoeia
  • The European Audiovisual Observatory
  • The European Support Fund Eurimages for the co-production and distribution of films Dell Inspiron 1520 Adapter
  • The Pompidou Group - Cooperation Group to Combat Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking in Drugs
  • The European Commission for Democracy through Law, better known as the Venice Commission
  • The Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO) Dell Inspiron 1525 Charger
  • The European and Mediterranean Major Hazards Agreement (EUR-OPA) which is a platform for co-operation between European and Southern Mediterranean countries in the field of major natural and technological disasters.
  • The Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport, which is open to accession by states and sport associations. HP Pavilion DV6000 Adapter
  • The North-South Centre of the Council of Europe in Lisbon (Portugal)
  • The Centre for Modern Languages is in Graz (Austria)  Dell Latitude D820 Charger

Headquarters and buildings

The seat of the Council of Europe is in Strasbourg, France. First meetings were held in Strasbourg's University Palace in 1949, but the Council of Europe soon moved into its own buildings.  HP Pavilion DV9000 AC Adapter

The Council of Europe's eight main buildings are situated in the Quartier européen, an area in the north-east of Strasbourg spread over the three districts of Le Wacken, La Robertsau and Quartier de l'Orangerie, where are also located the four buildings of the seat of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, the Arte headquarters and the seat of the International Institute of Human Rights.Sony VGP-BPS8 Battery

Building in the area started in 1949 with the predecessor of the Palais de l'Europe, the House of Europe (demolished in 1977), and came to a provisional end in 2007 with the opening of the New General Office Building in 2008. The Palais de l'Europe (Palace of Europe) and the Art Nouveau Villa Schutzenberger Sony VGP-BPS9 Battery

(seat of the European Audiovisual Observatory) are in the Orangerie district, and the European Court of Human Rights, the European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines and the Agora Building are in the Robertsau district. The Agora building has been voted "best international business center real estate project of 2007" on 13 March 2008, at the MIPIM 2008.Sony VGP-BPS12 Battery

The European Youth Centre is located in the Wacken district.

Besides its headquarters in Strasbourg, the Council of Europe is also present in other cities and countries. The Council of Europe Development Bank has its seat in Paris, the North-South Centre of the Council of Europe is established in Lisbon,Dell Inspiron 6400 Battery

Portugal, and the Centre for Modern Languages is in Graz, Austria. There are European Youth Centres in Budapest, Hungary, and in Strasbourg. The European Wergeland Centre, a new Resource Centre on education for intercultural dialogue, human rights and democratic citizenship, operated in cooperation with the Norwegian Government, opened in Oslo, Norway, in February 2009.Dell Inspiron 1525 Battery

The Council of Europe has offices in Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, and Ukraine; information offices in Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan,Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Dell XPS M1530 Battery

Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Republic of Macedonia, and Ukraine; and a projects office in Turkey. All these offices are establishments of the Council of Europe and they share its juridical personality with privileges and immunities.Dell Inspiron 6000 Battery

Due to persistent budgetary shortages, the Council of Europe is expected to cut down significantly the number of its activities, and thus the number of its employees, from 2011 on. This will notably affect the economy of the city of Strasbourg, where a total of 2,321 people (on 1 January 2010) are doing salary work for the CoE. Dell Inspiron 9400 Battery

Most offices in foreign countries are expected to be closed as well.

Symbols

The Council of Europe created and uses as its official symbols the famous European Flag with 12 golden stars arranged in a circle on a blue background since 1955, and the European Anthem based on the Ode to Joy in the final movement of Ludwig van Beethoven's Ninth symphony since 1972.Dell latitude D600 Battery

On 5 May 1964, the 15th anniversary of its founding, the Council of Europe established 5 May as Europe Day.

Although protected by copyright, the wide private and public use of the European Flag is encouraged to symbolise a European dimension. Dell Inspiron 8600 Battery

To avoid confusion with the European Union which subsequently adopted the same flag in the 1980s, as well as other European institutions, the Council of Europe often uses a modified version with a lower-case 'e' in the centre of the stars which is referred to as the "Council of Europe Logo". Dell Latitude D610 Battery

Membership, observers, partners

The Council of Europe was founded on 5 May 1949 by Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Greece and Turkey joined three months later, and Iceland and Germany the next year. It now has 47 member states, with Montenegro being the latest to join.Dell Inspiron 1520 Battery

Article 4 of the Council of Europe Statute specifies that membership is open to any "European" State. This has been interpreted liberally from the beginning (when Turkey was admitted) to include anyEurasian state with a toe-hold in Europe.Dell XPS M1710 Battery

As a result, nearly all European states have acceded to the Council of Europe, with the exception of Belarus (human rights concerns), Kazakhstan (human rights concerns/not sufficient democratization ), Vatican City (a theocracy) and the states with limited recognition.Dell XPS M1330 Battery

Besides the status of full member the Council of Europe has established other instruments for cooperation and participation of non-member states: observer, applicant, special guest, partner for democracy.

Non-member states

The Council of Europe works mainly through conventions.Dell XPS M1210 Battery

By drafting conventions or international treaties, common legal standards are set for its member states. However, several conventions have also been opened for signature to non-member states. Important examples are the Convention on Cybercrime (signed for example, by Canada, Japan, South Africa and the United States), Apple A1185 Battery

the Lisbon Recognition Convention on the recognition of study periods and degrees (signed for example, by Australia, Belarus, Canada, the Holy See, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, New Zealand and the USA), the Anti-doping Convention (signed for example, by Australia, Belarus, Canada and Tunisia)Apple Powerbook G4 Battery

and the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (signed for example, by Burkina Faso, Morocco, Tunisia and Senegal as well as the European Community). Non-member states also participate in several partial agreements, such as the Venice Commission,Apple MacBook Pro 17 inch Battery

the Group of States Against Corruption GRECO, the European Pharmacopoeia Commission and the North-South Centre.

Invitations to sign and ratify relevant conventions of the Council of Europe on a case-by-case basis are sent to three groups of non-member entities :Asus EEE PC Battery

  • Non-European states: Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, SouthCompaq V6000 BatteryKorea, Kyrgystan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mauritius, Morocco, New Zealand, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Senegal, South Africa, Syria, Tajikistan,Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Uruguay, Venezuela and the observers Canada, Israel, Japan, Mexico, United States.HP 6715B Battery
  • European states: Kazakhstan, Belarus and the observer Vatican City.
  • the European Community and later the European Union after its legal personality was established by the ratification of the EU's Lisbon Treaty.HP 6910P Battery

As mentioned in the introduction, it is important to realise that the Council of Europe is not to be mistaken with the Council of the European Union (the "Council of Ministers") or the European Council. These belong to the European Union, which is separate from the Council of Europe, HP NX6325 Battery

although they have shared the same European flag and anthem since the 1980s because they also work for European integration.

Cooperation between the European Union and the Council of Europe has recently been reinforced, notably on culture and education as well as on the international enforcement of justice and Human Rights.HP NC6400 Battery

The European Union is expected to accede to the European Convention on Human Rights (the Convention). There are also concerns about consistency in case law - the European Court of Justice (the EU's court inLuxembourg) is treating the Convention as part of the legal system of all EU member states in order to prevent conflict between its judgements and those of the European Court of Human Rights (the court inStrasbourg interpreting the Convention).HP NX6110 Battery

Protocol No.14 of the Convention is designed to allow the EU to accede to it and the EU Treaty of Lisbon contains a protocol binding the EU to join. The EU would thus be subject to its human rights law and external monitoring as its member states currently are.HP DV6000 Battery

United Nations

The Council of Europe holds observer status with the United Nations and is regularly represented in the UN General Assembly. It has organised the regional UN conferences against racism and on women and co-operates with the United Nations at many levels, in particular in the areas of human rights, minorities, migration and counter-terrorism.HP DV9000 Battery

Non-governmental Organisations

Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) can participate in the INGOs Conference of the Council of Europe and become observers to inter-governmental committees of experts. HP Pavilion ZE4400 Battery

The Council of Europe drafted the European Convention on the Recognition of the Legal Personality of International Non-Governmental Organisations in 1986, which sets the legal basis for the existence and work of NGOs in Europe. Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights protects the right to freedom of association, ibm x60s battery

which is also a fundamental norm for NGOs. The rules for Consultative Status for INGOs appended to the resolution (93)38 "On relation between the Council of Europe and non-governmental organisations", adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 18 October 1993 at the 500th meeting of the Ministers' Deputies. ibm t60 battery

On 19 November 2003 the Committee of Ministers changed the consultative status into a participatory status (Resolution Res (2003)8)“considering that it is indispensable that the rules governing the relations between the Council of Europe and NGOs evolve to reflect the active participation of international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) in the Organisation's policy and work programme”.ibm z60t battery

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (French: Comité des ministres du Conseil de l'Europe) or commonly the Committee of Ministers (French: Comité des ministres) is theCouncil of Europe's decision-making body. It comprises the Foreign Affairs Ministers of all the member states, or their permanent diplomatic representatives in Strasbourg. Sony VGP-BPS2 Battery

It is both a governmental body, where national approaches to problems facing European society can be discussed on an equal footing, and a collective forum, where Europe-wide responses to such challenges are formulated. In collaboration with the Parliamentary Assembly,Sony VGP-BPS5 Battery

it is the guardian of the Council's fundamental values, and monitors member states' compliance with their undertakings.

Members of the Committee of Ministers

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of each Council of Europe member state sits on the Committee of Ministers. Sony VGP-BPS3 Battery

In May 1951 the Committee of Ministers invited each member state to appoint a Permanent Representative who would be in constant touch with the organisation. All Permanent Representatives reside in Strasbourg. They are usually senior diplomats with ambassadorial rank, occasionally chargés d'affaires.Toshiba PA3465U-1BRS Battery

In 1952 the Committee of Ministers decided that each Minister could appoint a Deputy. The Ministers' Deputies have the same decision-making powers as the Ministers. A Deputy is usually also thePermanent Representative of the member State.

The second in rank in a delegation usually has the title "Deputy Permanent Representative", not to be confused with "Ministers' Deputy".Toshiba PA3331U-1BRS Battery

Meetings of the Committee of Ministers

The Committee meets at ministerial level once a year, in May or in November. The meetings, known as "sessions", are normally held in Strasbourg and usually last one full day or two half days. Toshiba PA3399U-1BRS Battery

While the greater part of each session is usually devoted to political dialogue, the Ministers may discuss all matters of mutual interest with the exception of national defence. Although the records of the sessions are confidential, a final communiqué is issued at the end of each meeting. The Ministers may also issue one or more declarations.Toshiba PA3166U-1BRS Battery

"Meetings of the Ministers' Deputies" are usually held in the Committee of Ministers' meeting room once a week. The Deputies also meet several times a week in subsidiary groups.

The role of the Committee of Ministers

The Committee of Ministers performs a triple role:Toshiba PA3479U-1BRS Battery

  • as the emanation of the governments which enables them to express on equal terms their national approaches to the problems confronting Europe's societies;
  • as the collective forum where European responses to these challenges are worked out, alongside the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe;Canon LP-E5 Battery
  • as guardian of the values for which the Council of Europe exists.

The work and activities of the Committee of Ministers include: Canon EOS 450D Battery

  • Political dialogue
  • Developing public international law through Council of Europe conventions
  • Interacting with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Canon MV700 Battery
  • Interacting with the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe
  • Admitting new member States, after a positive vote in the Parliamentary Assembly:

The Committee of Ministers has the authority to invite European States to become members of the Council of Europe (Articles 4, 5 and 6 of the Statute). It may also suspend or terminate membership.Sony NP-BD1 Battery

The process of admission begins when the Committee of Ministers, having received an official application for membership, consults the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (under Statutory Resolution (51) 30). The Assembly adopts an opinion which is published in the Assembly's texts adopted.Sony NP-BG1 Battery

If the Committee decides that a state can be admitted, it adopts a resolution inviting that state to become a member. The invitation specifies the number of seats that the state will have in the Assembly as well as its contribution to the budget. Recently the invitations have included a number of conditions concerning the implementation of democratic reforms in the applicant state.Sony DSC-P7 Battery

Once invited, a state becomes a member by depositing, normally by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, an instrument of accession with the Secretary General of the Council of Europe.

The only European states which are not members of the Council of Europe and thus could in principle be admitted are Belarus,DSC-P5 battery Battery

Kazakhstan and the Vatican as well as Kosovo pending clarification of its international legal status. Once the European Union has attained full legal personality, it could also accede to the Council of Europe. So far, the European Community has only signed Council of Europe treaties.Nikon EN-EL8 Battery

Concluding Conventions and agreements

Article 15.a of the Statute states that the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe "shall consider the action required to further the aim of the Council of Europe, including the conclusion of conventions and agreements".Nikon Coolpix 4300 Battery

Over 190 treaties have now been opened for signature. The European Convention of Human Rights of 1950 is one of the best known Council of Europe treaties and the one with the strongest supervision mechanism by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and the Committee of Ministers.d80.html">Nikon d80 Battery Battery

The text of any treaty is finalised when it is adopted by the Committee. Under Article 20 of the Statute adoption of a treaty requires:

  • a two-thirds majority of the representatives casting a vote;

The same majorities are required to authorise the publication of any explanatory report. The Committee also fixes the date that the treaty will be opened for signature. Conventions are legally binding for those States which ratify them.Sony NP-FS21 Battery

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