The European Parliament is the legislative branch of the European Union. It has its seat in Strasbourg (F) and is composed of 705 representatives from the 27 EU Member States. The Parliament decides, together with the Council of the European Union, on the EU budget and legislation. It also exercises democratic control over all EU institutions and elects the President of the Commission. The Parliament is directly elected by EU citizens every five years, most recently in 2019. The Italian social democrat David Sassoli has been elected President of the European Parliament for the first half of the current legislative period. Compared to the previous legislative period, the political composition following the 2019 elections is more fragmented: for the first time in the history of the European Parliament, Christian Democrats and Social Democrats will no longer be able to form a majority.
The Treaty of Lisbon, in force since 1 December 2009, significantly strengthened the powers and responsibilities of the European Parliament, making it an essential part of the institutional and political landscape of Europe. Its increased influence also has an impact on relations with countries that are not members of the EU, including Switzerland.
Switzerland therefore monitors the work of the European Parliament, in particular the plenary sessions that take place in Strasbourg as well as the sessions of its 20 Brussels-based committees. The Mission pays particular attention to the institutional dynamics of the Parliament and their implications on the decision-making processes of the EU and its relations with non-EU states, especially Switzerland. One of the main aims is to monitor legislative developments that are relevant to Switzerland.
Delegation for relations with Switzerland
The European Parliament conducts dialogue with countries outside of the EU through delegations. One delegation is in charge of relations with Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and the European Economic Area. The Swiss Federal Assembly also has a delegation that deals with relations with EFTA and the European Parliament. These two institutional bodies are responsible for the official contacts between the parliaments and hold regular meetings organized alternately in Switzerland and Strasbourg/Brussels.
The cooperation with the European Parliament takes, in particular, place through:
- working sessions of the Delegations;
- meetings between the presidents of the Swiss and European Parliaments;
- study visits of the respective parliamentary committees;
- meetings and exchanges on topical issues and shared concerns.