Our campaign NEXT STATION – BRUSSELS is in its full swing. We managed to tell our friend #Sashko the most important for:
• European Union
• European Institutions
• European Parliament → read again :^)
But Who in fact is the Member of the European Parliament ?
What are their functions, activities and responsibilities? Do they resemble the members of the national parliaments?
There are many differences and similarities between the member of the European Parliament and the member of a National Parliament, which we will now look through very closely.
The Mandate of the MEPs has a duration of 5 years unlike their colleagues that enjoy the plenary for only 4 years (or a year less).
Bulgaria’s 240 members of the parliament and their European counterparts are selected in the same manner– through pre-defined constituencies. For the 751 MEPs however the constituencies are the 28 separate Member States of the European Union.
In the Bulgarian National Assembly, the members are divided by means of their party preferences. It is similar in the European Parliament, but the mechanism of separation of the 7 parties is based on the votes of the MEPs, which have to be equivalent. In other words, they need to have the same weight as the other votes, regardless of the country they represent. If MEPs are divided along national lines in the European Parliament that can produce a situation where large countries like Germany /with 98 MEPs/ or France /with 73 MEPs/ determine the direction of development of EU policies.
The number of MEPs from every member-state is prorated according to the number of the population. For example, the maximum number of members is 98 /for Germany/ and only 6 for countries such as Malta and Luxembourg. In comparison the Bulgarian MEPs are now 18. But in the upcoming elections 15 countries will reduce the number of their MEPs, including Germany, because after Croatia’s accession the MEPs are 765, when according to the Lisbon Treaty they must be 751.
The members of the European Parliament have the power to approve, amend or reject almost all the laws of the European Union. The European Commission can be held accountable by the European Parliament which can also force its members to resign. Another important obligation of the MEPs is the formation of the European budget and how the money of the EU should be allocated to individual departments.
Although the work of the MEPs is related to the activity of the European Union it is often under the influence of events in their electoral districts. MEPs meet for one week every month in Strasbourg where they debate current political issues and approve the ratification of treaties and agreements important for the development of the EU.
MEPs have the right to participate in various committees on various issues related to the European Union – such as the Budget Committee, The Commission on Human Rights and many others. Every single MEP can participate in more than one committee. If we make another comparison to Bulgarian members we will see that there are similarities. They also participate in committees on specific issues, which are related to their area of expertise.
In 2009, the MEPs received a salary from their own country with the same value as the salary of a member of their National Parliament. As a result there is a big difference in remuneration of the separate members of the European Parliament. In 2002, the Italian MEPs received 130 000 euro each, while Spanish MEPs received 32 000 euro, which is less than a quarter of the salaries of the Italians.
So in 2005 a common status is established for the salaries of all Members of the European Parliament. After the elections in 2009 all MEPs receive a basic annual salary of 38,7 % of the salary of a judge of the European Court, which is approximately 84 000 euro. This means a cut in wages for some Members from countries such as Italy, Germany and Austria, but also an increase in wages of the low-paid Members of the countries in Eastern Europe.
Currently, a member of the Bulgarian Parliament receives between 2000 – 2500 BGN per month and for a single Bulgarian Member of the European Parliament that salary is about 13 800 BGN per month. Quite a difference! However, if the work of a member of the parliament affects the policies of a country, the work of a Member of the European Parliament influences the policies of all 28 member-states of the European Union.
Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of a MEP for a day. Before that however we must explain the schedule on which the MEPs work. This schedule is determined each year by the Parliament at the proposal of the Council of the Presidents and it is divided into sessions and meetings. The schedule is as follows :
• 12 monthly sessions of four days in Strasbourg and six additional monthly sessions of two days in Brussels
• 2 weeks a month for meetings of parliamentary committees and inter-parliamentary delegations
• one week a month for meetings of political groups
• and four weeks a year, exclusively devoted to the work and presence of MEPs in their constituency.
Therefore, the work of a MEP depends on the day in which he is working and which part of the schedule is set for that day. Each MEP has accredited and local collaborators appointed to him, which are about 6 people for every Member and whose task is to facilitate the work of MEPs.
Do you feel more Smarti now about the big glass building and the ladies and gentlemen working in it? Maybe there still are unsolved mysteries but Sashko wants to know more and that is why he will read our next article. But what will it be about … coming soon
Did you know that …
The controversial French MEP Daniel Cohn-Bendit is one of the protagonists of the student protests in Paris in 1968. We could say that he is one of the fathers of the student occupation.
Autor: Stanislava Simeonova,
Design: Tsvetelina Kalcheva
Vladimir Vasilev (senior designer)
Translation: Silviya Naydenova