Political groups in the European Parliament
Learn more about how the European Parliament is organised by political group
Funded by the European Parliament
The European Parliament is an important institution within the European Union (EU). It is made up of 751 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from 28 Member States. The European Parliament is the only EU institution whose members are directly elected by European citizens. European Parliament elections are held every five years, most recently on 23-26 May 2019..
Seating in the European Parliament is organised not by nationality but by political group.
Why are there political groups in the European Parliament?
The 751 MEPs come from 28 countries across Europe, and each member has their own set of views, opinions, and beliefs. Many MEPs are members of political parties in their home states, while some are independents.
Instead of organising the Parliament based on where an MEP is from, it is organised based on political beliefs. Members are divided into political groups based on their political affiliation, and these Members will sit together in the Parliament chamber.
A political group must have at least 25 Members, and its membership must represent at least 25% of Member States.
What do the political groups do?
Before a parliamentary vote, the groups will examine the issue and any reports coming from parliamentary committees, and suggest any changes they think should be made. The issue will be discussed by the Members and the group will decide their position. Members in the political groups generally vote together on certain issues, although they don’t have to.
What is the difference between a European party and a political group?
Usually, a political party is a national party, operating in only one country. Many national political parties in the EU choose to join European political parties, sometimes known as Europarties. These Europarties are transnational, meaning they operate across Europe, and they can campaign during European elections.
The political groups are the formal representation of the Europarties in the European Parliament. Sometimes political groups represent just one Europarty, while other political groups represent a mix of Europarties, national parties, and Independents.
You do not need to be a member of a Europarty in order to be part of a political group.
What are the political groups in the European Parliament?
There are currently eight political groups in the European Parliament. MEPs can only be a member of one political group at a time. Some Members choose not to join a political group, and they are known as ‘non-attached Members’.
European People’s Party Group (EPP)
The European People’s Party Group are the largest political group in the European Parliament. They are a centre-right group supporting European integration and pro-business policies.
The European People’s Party group represent the European People’s Party.
Fine Gael are a member of the EPP. Some prominent European politicians associated with the EPP include Germany’s Angela Merkel and Luxembourg’s Jean-Claude Juncker.
Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D)
The Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats are the second-largest political group in the European Parliament. They are a centre-left group who aim to address issues such as inequality, bringing an end to austerity, and introducing a fair tax system.
The S&D represent the Party of European Socialists.
The Labour Party are members of the S&D. Some well-known European politicians who are in this group include the UK’s Jeremy Corbyn and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.
Renew Europe (RE)
Renew Europe are the third-largest political group in the European Parliament. They are a liberal-centrist group who believe in individual freedoms, protection of democracy, and upholding the rule of law.
Fianna Fáil are members of Renew Europe. Prominent European politicians in Renew Europe include Margrethe Vestager of Denmark, known for taking Ireland to Europe’s highest court over delays in collecting €13 billion in taxes from Apple. French President Emmanuel Macron’s party are also members of this group.
Greens/European Free Alliance (Greens/EFA)
The Greens/European Free Alliance is one of the big four political groups in the European Parliament, made up of members from green parties and independents. The Greens saw a big boost in MEPs from across Europe in the 2019 European Parliament elections, making them the fourth-largest party. Issues such as environmental protection, peace and social justice, fair globalisation, and human rights are at the core of their values.
The Green Party are members of the Greens/EFA. Well-known European politicians associated with this group include Ska Keller of Germany and the Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
Identity and Democracy (ID)
Identity and Democracy are a right-wing extremist group, currently the fifth largest political group in the European Parliament. They are another Eurosceptic group, whose members are anti-immigration, anti-EU, and often far-right.
ID represent two Europarties, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party and the European Democratic Party.
There are currently no Irish parties or MEPs in ID. Some well-known European politicians associated with this group are Marine Le Pen of France and Italy’s Matteo Salvini.
European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR)
The European Conservatives and Reformists Group are the sixth-largest political group in the European Parliament. They argue for more decentralisation (fewer decisions being made at an EU level), free trade, and increasing security in Europe.
The ECR represent the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe.
There are currently no parties from the Republic of Ireland in the ECR, though former Fianna Fáil MEP Brian Crowley was a member from 2014-19. Some of the best-known European politicians involved in this group are the UK’s Theresa May and Jarosław Kaczyński of Poland.
Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD)
Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy are a populist Eurosceptic group. This means that they are critical of the EU, and in some cases believe their country should leave the EU entirely, while in other cases believe the EU should be reformed.
The group’s chair is Nigel Farage, the founder of the UK Brexit Party.
There are currently no Irish parties or MEPs in EFDD.
European United Left - Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL)
European United Left - Nordic Green Left are the smallest political group in the European Parliament. The group aims to bring together left-wing MEPs in the European Parliament to support anti-capitalist policies, higher taxes on the wealthy, and lower military spending.
GUE/NGL represent the Party of the European Left.
Solidarity-People Before Profit and Sinn Féin are both members of GUE/NGL, as are Independent MEPs Luke “Ming” Flanagan, Mick Wallace, and Clare Daly. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is one of the most well-known members of GUE/NGL.