What does the European Parliament do?

The European Parliament represents people living in the 28 member countries of the European Union (EU).

It has powers in a range of areas that affect member countries and can approve, change or reject new European laws.

How is it made up?

The European Parliament is currently made up of 751 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) who are elected by 28 European Union member countries.

European Parliament and the UK

The UK is currently represented by 73 MEPs at the European Parliament.

In the UK, there are currently 12 European electoral regions and each region is represented by between three and 10 MEPs.

Find out who represents you in the European Parliament

How is it elected?

England, Scotland and Wales

You have one vote to elect all of the MEPs for your region.

Each party puts forward a list of candidates – known as a regional list – and you vote for one of these lists or for an individual candidate standing as an independent.

The number of MEPs that are elected from each party to represent a region depends on the overall share of votes that each party receives.

Northern Ireland

There is a different voting system where you vote by ranking the candidates in order of preference. This is called the Single Transferable Vote.

When is it elected?

European Parliament elections are currently scheduled to take place in the UK on 23 May.

The elections will take place in other EU member countries between Thursday 23 May and Sunday 26 May 2019.

Who is eligible to vote?

You must be registered to vote and also be one of the following:

  • 18 years of age or over on polling day
  • a British citizen, a qualifying Commonwealth citizen, or a citizen of the European Union
  • resident in the UK
  • a UK citizen living abroad who has been registered to vote in the UK in the last 15 years
  • not be subject to any legal incapacity to vote

EU citizen living in the UK

If you’re a citizen of a European Union country (other than the UK, Republic of Ireland, Malta and Cyprus), you can either vote in the UK or in your home country. You can’t vote twice.

To vote in the UK, you need to:

  • be registered to vote
  • complete a form stating you wish to vote in the UK and not in your home country

After completing the form, you need to send it to your local authority by the 7 May 2019.

European Union citizens in Northern Ireland should visit the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland website.

Find where to send the forms

If you’re not already registered to vote you can register at gov.uk/register-to-vote. The deadline to register to vote in European Parliament elections is Tuesday 7 May 2019.

The following cannot vote in these elections:

  • anyone other than British, qualifying Commonwealth or European Union citizens
  • convicted persons detained in pursuance of their sentences, excluding contempt of court (though remand prisoners, unconvicted prisoners and civil prisoners can vote if they are on the electoral register)
  • anyone found guilty within the previous five years of corrupt or illegal practices in connection with an election

Find out more information about who is eligible to vote

Last updated: 1 November 2019
Next review: 11 September 2020