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The European Parliament

briefly explained...

The European Parliament (EP) is generally referred to as the “most democratic” of the

many EU institutions because it has been elected directly since the year 1979. The

elections for the European Parliament are held every five years. Every country organizes

its own elections and sends a certain number of representatives, depending on the


The smallest countries currently send a minimum of six representatives, while the largest

send a maximum of 96. However, the EP is to be reduced after the next election from

751 to 705 seats due to Brexit. Austria’s seats in the EP would then increase from a

current 18 to 19. In view of the fact that Great Britain has not yet left the Union, it is

unclear whether these changes will take effect already for the European election in May


Similar to the Austrian National Assembly, the members of the European Parliament

organize into political factions and not on the basis of member states, although in the

ideal case they should represent the interests of their home country and its citizens. 

Nevertheless, in contrast to national parliaments, the EU Parliament has no right of

initiative. The proposed legislation comes from the Commission and must be approved

by both the EP and the Council of the European Union. The EP can only request the

Commission to engage with a certain issue.

Plenary sittings of the EP are held twelve times per year in Strasbourg, while the

committees meet in Brussels, and the administration is primarily located in Luxembourg.

The head of the Freedom Party delegation, Harald Vilimsky, and many other

representatives refer to this situation as a “traveling circus that costs the taxpayers

roughly 125 million euros per year”. They call for the parliamentary sites to be merged.

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