European Elections: Points of Order

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The Independent Online
n There are 298 million potential voters in the European Union.

n The Parliament has 626 members, who serve a five-year term.

n The outgoing Parliament was divided into eight political groups, dominated by the Socialists with 214 seats, and the centre-right European People's Party, with 201 seats.

n The Parliament holds monthly week-long plenary sessions in Strasbourg, France. Most other activities, such as committee meetings and political group meetings, take place in Brussels.

n It was originally set up as a consultative assembly, but its powers have expanded so it now has the right to amend or veto legislation agreed by EU governments.

n It can also reject the EU budget, set up committees of inquiry, sack the EU's executive Commission and veto international agreements or block EU expansions.