The Parliament is the only European institution whose members are chosen directly by the voters in democratic election. However in the beginning, the members of the Assembly were delegated by the member states. The history of the EP started in the 50s with the founding treaties.
In the beginning, the Assembly consisted of 78 representatives of the national parliaments delegated by the countries forming the European Coal and Steel Community: France, Federal Republic of Germany, Italy, Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg.
Common European Parliament Assembly for the European Coal and Steel Community, European Economic Community and Euratom were founded in 1958. The name of the EP is in use since 1962.
MEPs have been elected in direct elections across the EU since 1979.
The first historic assembly of the EP elected in democratic elections was held in July 1979. The first president of the new Parliament was French a politician - Simone Veil. She was the first woman to head the EP.
Along with the next widening of the EU, the number of MEPs increased. In 2007, when Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU, the number of MEPs temporarily increased to 785. Currently, there are 750 MEPs plus one – its president, who does not have a vote.
Allocation of MEPs per state cannot be larger than 96 and smaller than 6.
Today, the EP has wide legislative, budgetary and controlling competencies over other EU institutions. The Lisbon Treaty increased them for more than 40 new areas, where the EP makes decisions along with the European Council; one of them is the budget.
New practice in the EP is the MEPs rounds of questions to the president of the European Commission. The first time it happened was in 2009 in Strasbourg, when Emanuel Barroso answered their enquiries.
The EP is a unique institution in the world. There is no other body established in democratic elections with such broad competencies. Deriving from 28 members states, MEPs speak 24 official languages. They represent more than 508 million of citizens.
The list of the Assembly’s and the Parliament’s presidents until now:
Paul Henri Spaak (Belgium) 1952-1953
Alcide De Gasperi (Italy) 1954
Giuseppe Pella (Italy) 1954-1956
Hans Furler (Federal Republic of Germany) 1956-1958
The Parliament Assembly (of the European Coal and Steel Community, European Economic Community and Euratom):
Robert Schuman (France) 1958-1960
Hans Furler (Federal Republic of Germany) 1960-1962
Gaetano Martino (Italy) 1962-1964
Jean Duvieusart (Belgium) 1964-1965
Victor Leemans (Belgium) 1965-1966
Alain Poher (France) 1966-1969
Mario Scelba (Italy) 1969-1971
Walter Behrendt (Federal Republic of Germany) 1971-1973
Cornelis Berkhouwer (the Netherlands) 1973-1975
Georges Spenale (France) 1975-1977
Emilio Colombo (Italy) 1977-1979
The Parliament elected in democratic elections:
Simone Veil (France) 1979-1982
Piet Dankert (the Netherlands) 1982-1984
Pierre Pflimlin (France) 1984-1987
Charles Henry Plumb (Great Britain) 1987-1989
Enrique Baron Crespo (Spain) 1989-1992
Egon Klepsch (Germany) 1992-1994
Klaus Haensch (Germany) 1994-1997
Jose Maria Gil-Robles (Spain) 1997-1999
Nicole Fontaine (France) 1999-2002
Pat Cox (Ireland) 2002-2004
Josep Borrell (Spain) 2004-2007
Hans-Gert Poettering (Germany) 2007-2009
Jerzy Buzek (Poland) 2009-2012
Martin Schulz (Germany) 2012-2014
Gianni Pittella (acting president - Italy) 2014
Martin Schulz (Germany) 2014–2017
Antonio Tajani (Italy) od 2017