Groups in the European Parliament

MEPs in the chamber in Strasbourg

In the European Parliament, MEPs sit in political groups that cross national boundaries.

Groups can and do change their formation or name from time to time, but following the 2014 European Parliament elections, there are currently seven groups.

And there are rules to adhere to: each group must have at least 25 MEPs from a minimum of seven member states.

There are also a number of MEPs who do not belong to any group, known as non-attached members (or the non inscrits in EU jargon).

In total, 186 national parties are currently represented within the European Parliament, a slight increase on the previous term.

European People's Party (EPP) - 221 MEPs

EPP group logo

This is the biggest group in the European Parliament, yet one from which British MEPs are absent. This used to be the home of the British Conservatives before they left to set-up a more Eurosceptic group.

Along with the Socialist group, the EPP has traditionally been one of the two powerhouses of the Parliament, providing most of the Presidents, Vice-Presidents and Committee chairs.

It is broadly centre-right and enthusiastic about deeper EU integration.

The chair of the group is Germany's Manfred Weber.

Progressive Alliance of Socialist & Democrats (S&D) - 191 MEPs

S&D group logo

Formerly known simply as the Socialist group, the group is the home of Labour party MEPs from the UK.

It is the main centre-left group in the Parliament, and for many years was the biggest group in Brussels, although that crown has since been taken the by the EPP.

Along with the EPP it tends to provide the lion's share of top jobs in the Parliament.

The chair of the group is the Italian MEP Gianni Pittella.

European Conservatives and Reformists - 70 MEPs

ECR group logo

One of the big winners of the 2014 elections, the group rose to third place, despite a drop in support for one of its biggest components, the British Conservatives.

The origin of this group can be found in David Cameron's desire for the Conservatives to leave the federalist European People's Party and set up a new right of centre and Eurosceptic group at the time of the 2009 elections.

Alongside the Conservatives, the biggest delegation is Poland's Law and Justice Party, and the group also contains - among others - the Ulster Unionists and Alternative for Germany.

Broadly centre-right and eurosceptic it contains a mixture of groups that are more social conservative and those that promote economic liberalism.

British Conservative MEP Syed Kamall is the group's leader.

Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) - 67 MEPs

ALDE group logo

The main centrist group in the Parliament, ALDE saw its overall numbers take a hit at the 2014 elections, mainly due to the sharp fall in support for its two biggest components, the British Liberal Democrats and the German Free Democrats.

One of the most Euro-enthusiastic groups in the Parliament, it has often held the balance of power in key votes and has been courted by both the Socialists and the EPP when majorities are sought.

Former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt is the group's leader.

European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE) - 52 MEPs

GUE group logo

As its name suggests, this is the group that can be found on the far left of the political spectrum, containing members from a number of Communist and traditional Socialist parties.

Sinn Fein provides the sole UK representative in this group.

It is broadly Eurosceptic, but from an anti-austerity or anti-capitalist point of view, rather than specifically on issues of national sovereignty.

The group's full name represents the fact that it traditionally it has contained left-wing environmentalist groups from Scandinavia.

It is chaired by the German MEP Gabriele Zimmer.

European Greens/European Free Alliance - 50 MEPs

Green group logo

As its name suggests, this group is an alliance of two parties - the European greens, and the European Free Alliance, which primarily represents parties focused on regional interests such as the SNP, Plaid Cymru, and Catalan parties.

The group generally takes a left of centre position on most issues, and - naturally - this is the home of the UK's three Green Party MEPs.

It is co-chaired by Rebecca Harms from Germany and Philippe Lamberts from Belgium.

Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFD) - 48 MEPs

EFDD group

Traditionally the most Eurosceptic group, the EFDD contains MEPs who attack the idea of European integration from a broadly - but not exclusively - right wing perspective.

The UK provides the largest number of MEPs in this group, containing as it does the 24 MEPs from the UK Independence Party, with the 17 MEPs from Italy's Five Star Movement in second place.

Often a thorn in the side of the "Brussels establishment", the EFD group has two co-presidents, UKIP's Nigel Farage, and David Borrelli from the Five Star Movement.

Non-attached (NI) - 52 MEPs

And so to those MEPs who have not been able to find enough friends or allies to form a group of their own, or who have been rejected by other groups.

Many non-attached members come from right-wing parties such France's Front National, and Hungary's Jobbik.

However it also contains MEPs who feel they do not fit into any of the other groups, such as the Democratic Unionst Party's sole MEP. Being unattached means that members have much less access to speaking time in the chamber, as well as fewer administrative and secretarial resources.

Numbers correct as at 26 June 2014

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