European Parliament, legislative assembly located at Strasbourg, France, since 1979 elected directly in the member countries of the European Community/European Union by the citizens of these countries; currently (1999) has 626 members (99 for Germany, 87 each for France, Italy and the United Kingdom, 64 for Spain, 31 for the Netherlands, 25 each for Belgium, Greece and Portugal, 22 for Sweden, 21 for Austria, 16 each for Denmark and Finland, 15 for Ireland and 6 for Luxembourg). Its powers are the following: it scrutinises the work of the European Commission (and can force it to resign by a two-thirds majority vote) and its programme of work (questions in writing), it can set up committees of enquiry and examines petitions filed by citizens. Jointly with the European Council it adopts the annual overall budget and supervises its implementation. Its legislative powers have been broadened on several occasions: Many laws are adopted jointly by the European Council and the European Parliament; on important matters (such as association agreements with third countries, international conventions, admission of new members) the European Council has to seek the approval of Parliament ("co-decision").
The 1999 elections resulted in the following composition of membership: Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrat Group) and European Democrats (EPP): 233 seats (including 7 held by the ÖVP); Group of the Party of European Socialists (PES): 180 (including 7 SPÖ); Group of the Liberal, Democratic and Reformist (ELDR): 50; Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance (Greens/EFA): 48 (including 2 Greens from Austria); Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left: 48 (EUL/NGL): 42; Group of the Union for a Europe of Nations (UEN): 30; Europe of Democracies and Diversities Group (EDU): 16; Independents: 27 (incl. 5 FPÖ).
The Austrian delegations are headed by: U. Stenzel (ÖVP), H. Swoboda (SPÖ), D. Raschhofer (FPÖ) and J. Voggenhuber (Greens).