On this page you can find out about the European Parliament, including:
- What does it do?
- How and when is it elected?
- How is it made up?
What does the European Parliament do?
The European Parliament represents people living in the 28 member countries of the European Union (EU).
It has powers in a range of areas that affect member countries and can approve, change or reject new European laws.
How is it made up?
The European Parliament is currently made up of 751 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) who are elected by 28 European Union member countries.
European Parliament and the UK
The UK is represented by 73 MEPs at the European Parliament.
In the UK, there are 12 European electoral regions and each region is represented by between three and 10 MEPs.
How is it elected?
England, Scotland and Wales
In a European Parliamentary election in England, Scotland and Wales, you have one vote to elect all of the MEPs for your region.
Each party puts forward a list of candidates – known as a regional list – and you vote for one of these lists or for an individual candidate standing as an independent.
The number of MEPs that are elected from each party to represent a region depends on the overall share of votes that each party receives.
In Northern Ireland, there is a different voting system where you vote by ranking the candidates in order of preference. This is called the Single Transferable Vote.
When is it elected?
Elections for the European Parliament take place every five years. The next election will be in 2019.
Who is eligible to vote?
To vote in a European Parliament election a person must be registered to vote and also be one of the following:
- 18 years of age or over on polling day
- a British citizen, a qualifying Commonwealth citizen, or a citizen of the European Union
- resident in the UK
- not be subject to any legal incapacity to vote
Citizens of European Union countries (other than the UK, Republic of Ireland, Malta and Cyprus) must complete a form stating that they wish to vote in the UK and not in their home country.
The following cannot vote in a local council election:
- anyone other than British, qualifying Commonwealth or European Union citizens
- convicted persons detained in pursuance of their sentences, excluding contempt of court (though remand prisoners, unconvicted prisoners and civil prisoners can vote if they are on the electoral register)
- anyone found guilty within the previous five years of corrupt or illegal practices in connection with an election