Prior to these elections, the Lisbon Treaty laid down the following rules regarding the European Parliament:
- The maximum number of MEPs is 751
- The minimum number of MEPs per country is 6
- The maximum number of MEPs per country is 96
- The division of seats should be proportional, meaning the more citizens a Member State has, the more MEPs it has.
After Croatia joined the EU in July 2013, these rules meant that Ireland lost one MEP and our European constituencies had to be re-drawn with Ireland now having 11 MEPs in 3 constituencies:
Dublin: Lynn Boylan (Sinn Féin); Nessa Childers (Independent); Brian Hayes (Fine Gael).
Midlands North-West: Matt Carthy (SF); Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan (Ind); Marian Harkin (Ind); Mairead McGuinness (FG).
South: Deirdre Clune (FG); Brian Crowley (Elected for Fianna Fail, now Independent); Sean Kelly (FG); Liadh Ni Riadha (SF).
When MEPs gather in the European Parliament, they do not sit in national delegations but rather in pan-European political groupings which are divided along ideological lines. In order for a political grouping to be formed in the European Parliament, there needs to be a minimum of 25 MEPs from at least seven Member States. MEPs are expected to vote with their grouping and by and large they do. In the current Parliament, there are 8 such groupings:
The European People’s Party (EPP) is a European political party founded in 1976 by Christian Democratic parties. The EPP has been the largest political grouping since 1999. The Fine Gael party was a founder member of the EPP, and Ireland’s four Fine Gael MEPs sit with this grouping in the Parliament.
The Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) is the political of the Party of European Socialists (PES). The Irish Labour Party is a member of S&D but returned no MEPs for the first time in its history in the 2014 European Parliament elections. However, former Irish Labour Party MEP Nessa Childers (Dublin), now an Independent, sits in this group.
Founded after the 2009 elections, the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) is the parliamentary group of the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists, a pan-European political party. The largest parties in the group include the UK’s Conservative Party. Irish MEP Brian Crowley is now a member of the ECR.
The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) is a transnational alliance between two European political parties, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party and the European Democratic Party. Well-known former Commissioner and newly elected Finnish MEP Olli Rehn is a member of this grouping. Fianna Fáil is affiliated with ALDE, as is Independent MEP Marian Harkin. However, as noted, following the 2014 European Parliament elections Brian Crowley, the only Fianna Fáil MEP to be elected, decided to leave ALDE and join the ECR.
European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) is a left-wing political grouping in the European Parliament established in 1995. The group comprises political parties of mostly socialist and communist orientation. Sinn Féin MEPs from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are members of GUE/NGL, as is Independent Irish MEP for Midlands North-West, Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan.
The other three groupings in the European Parliament are: The Greens/European Free Alliance (Greens/EFA); Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) and so-called ‘Non-Attached Members’. No Irish MEPs sit in any of these three groupings.
If you would like more information about the European Parliament, or other EU institutions, please contact email@example.com for a free copy of ‘Just the Facts: Guide to the EU, 2014-19’.