(July 20, 2009) A new European Parliament (EP), with 736 Members, opened its first session in Strasbourg for the 2009-2014 term. Approximately half of the EP Members were elected for the first time. Women constitute a little more than a third of the membership.
There are 160 national groups within the EP, the majority of which belong to seven groups: the center-right European People's Party (Christian Democrats), with 265 Members; the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, with 184; the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, with 84; the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance with 55; the European Conservatives and Reformists Group with 55; the Confederal Group of the European United Left-Nordic Green Left, with 35; the Europe of Freedom and Democracy Group, with 32; there are 26 Members who are not attached. As of July 2009, all political groups are obliged to include Members from at least seven EU Member States. A political group needs 25 Members to be established. (Results of the 2009 European Elections, European Election Results 2009 website,http://www.elections2009-results.eu/en/new_parliament_en.html (last visited July 14, 2009).)
The new EP elected its new president, 14 vice-presidents, and chairs of the Parliament's committees. The Polish center-right member Jerzy Buzek, who was elected to the EP for the first time in 2004 and who had served on energy, industry, and research committees, was elected EP president through a secret ballot. He received a total of 555 of the 644 valid votes cast. Buzek stated that dealing with the financial crisis and bringing the European citizens closer to the European Union are among his top priorities. He also commented on how he had dreamed of a free Poland in the past and that his election as president “is a sign of how things can change.” (Andrew Willis, Buzek Election Hailed as 'Historic,' EU OBSERVER, July 14, 2009, available at http://euobserver.com/9/28454/?rk=1.)
Pursuant to the EC Treaty on Establishing the European Community, the Parliament gives its approval to the President of the European Commission. The three largest parties in the newly-formed Parliament, the center right, the Socialists, and the Liberals, have reached an agreement to establish a date in September 2009 to vote on Jose Manuel Barroso's second bid to be the President of the European Commission. Barroso enjoys the full support of the center right party. (MEPS to Vote on Barroso in September, EU OBSERVER, July 15, 2009, available at http://euobserver.com/9/28460/?rk=1.)