What is the European Parliament?
THE European Parliament was founded in 1951 under the name of the Parliamentary Assembly and renamed in 1962. Its original purpose was to reconcile France and Germany after the Second World War, as well as pooling the coal and steel industries from six European countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxemburg and the Netherlands. The first three countries to join after the inception of the Parliament were the United Kingdom, Denmark and Ireland. The European Union flag hasn’t been changed since 1955 and it represents the Union’s ideals of solidarity, unity and harmony throughout the peoples of Europe.
In 2018, the Parliament houses twenty-eight countries of the enlarged European Union. There are 751 representatives elected by the people of their country and the number of the officials in a country correspond to the country’s population. These officials are divided into eight parties, the biggest of which is the Christian Democrats, with several members belonging to no party. The Parliament’s function is split into three divisions – legislative, supervisory and budgetary. While the legislative deals with passing of the EU laws and international agreements and budgetary regulates the money that goes into the EU projects.
The current president of the Parliament is Antonio Tajani, elected by the members of the Parliament, and the first one was Paul-Henri Spaak, one of the founding fathers of the Union. Simone Veil is another notable figure from the Parliament, the first female to ever become a president. She now has a planetarium dedicated to her, where visitors to the Parliament can roleplay being its members. The planetarium is situated in Strasbourg, which is the official residence of the Parliament, chosen for its geographical position of being near the French-German border.
With recent years, the Parliament has shifted its focus to the European youth, now organizing special educational visits for students. They also have active social media targeting millennials and Gen Z, as well as the European Youth Parliament, which allows young people to participate in the law-making and prepares them for a possible future as the members of the European Parliament.