Parliament of the European Union (EU), which meets in Strasbourg, France, and Brussels, Belgium. Together with the Council of the European Union (the Council) and the European Commission, it exercises the legislative function of the EU. The Parliament's members are directly elected for a five-year term. The number of seats in the parliament is related to the number of EU members, allocated roughly in proportion to the size of their respective populations. In 2014, after the accession of ten new countries to the EU in 2004, two more in 2007, and one more in 2013, the number of seats stood at 751. Martin Shulz, a German social democrat politician, became president of the European Parliament in 2012 and was re-elected in 2014.
Originally merely consultative, the European Parliament became directly elected in 1979, and later assumed increased powers. Though still not a true legislative body, under a co-decision legislative procedure introduced by the 1992 Maastricht Treaty (and extended by the 1997 Amsterdam Treaty and 2007 Lisbon Treaty), the European Parliament has been placed on an equal footing with the Council of the European Union in the adoption of legislation in many areas, with proposals requiring the agreement of both institutions. It can hold individual members of the European Commission to account and pass a motion of censure on the entire Commission, and it can reject the EU budget. It also has an important role in overseeing EU spending, questioning EU commissioners and national ministers, and approving international agreements. In addition, it appoints an ombudsman to consider complaints from citizens concerning maladministration by EU bodies. It is the only EU institution that meets and deliberates in public.
Full sittings are held one week each month in Strasbourg, to amend and vote on draft legislation and policy. Most of the standing and subcommittees, which prepare the work of full sessions, meet in Brussels, where additional two-day full parliamentary sessions are also held. The seat of the Parliament's secretariat, or civil service, is in Luxembourg, though many of its officials are based in Brussels.
Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) do not sit in national delegations in the Parliament, but in multinational political groups. Prior to 2009, MEPs were paid the same salary as members of their national parliaments, which led to a wide range of salaries. Since the 2009 elections, all MEPs receive a basic yearly salary set at 38.5% of a European Court judge's salary. They also receive allowances and expenses in accordance with established rates.
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