THE European Parliament works in conjunction with other European bodies, including the European Commission, which is a body that proposes new European legislation.
Members of the European Parliament also work with the Council of the European Union which both have to agree with proposed policy before it is adopted.
The Council of the European Union is made up of department ministers from the 28 European Union countries, so if a health policy is being debated, the health minister from the Government will attend.
The key role of a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) is to be your voice in Europe.
They assist in the scrutiny of policy and they can do this by speaking in debates as an “official” spokesperson for their group or under a procedure which allows any MEP to speak freely.
A group of MEPs sit on 17 committees that compile reports on EU policies and issues, and members from all 28 countries then meet for one week per month, in Strasbourg, to discuss the reports.
MEPs are mainly based at the European Parliament offices in Strasbourg, but committee meetings are held in their offices in Brussels.
Instead of sitting in countries, members sit in political parties and the European Parliament is home to seven groups. However, they are a number of MEPs who do not belong to any group, who are known as non-attached members.
The seven groups within the European Parliament are the European People’s Party (270 MEPs), Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (190 MEPs), Alliance of Liberal and Democrats for Europe (85 MEPs), the Greens/European Free Alliance (59 MEPs), the European Conservatives and Reformists (53 MEPs), Europe of Freedom and Democracy (36 MEPs), European United Left/Nordic Green Left (34 MEPs) and the non-attached members (27 MEPs).
The south east constituency is represented by members from five parties. Conservative MEPs sit in the European Conservatives and Reformists group, Labour in the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats group, Liberal Democrats in the Alliance of Liberal and Democrats for Europe group, UKIP in the Europe of Freedom and Democracy group and the MEP from the Green party sits in the Greens/European Free Alliance.
Along with their work in Strasbourg, MEPs usually spend one week a month in their constituency, covering wide areas within the UK.
In return for serving their electorate, MEPs get a daily allowance of approximately £256 to cover the costs of meals and accommodation, as well as receiving reimbursements for travel to and from Brussels and Strasbourg.
They receive a flat rate of £3,600 a month to cover the cost of running an office in their constituency, plus an £83,000 annual salary.