European Foreign Policy and the European Parliament
This chapter looks at the largely sui generis Europarliamentary environment, its configuration and organization with particular regard to its international activities. In order to express its opinion in foreign policy, the European Parliament (EP) often requires an in-depth study on a specific subject, a task which is imparted to competent committees. Certain foreign policy objectives can be pursued by dealing directly with the people of foreign countries, rather than with their governments. The number and the size of the political groups within the EP have varied also to reflect the changes within the European Community/Union, in particular following the accession of new member states. Stemming from ideological schisms, the extreme left wing of the EP was split into two groups the Left Unity and the European Unitarian Left. The EP configuration extends to 626 members from 15 countries gathered in 8 political groups, except for the Independent members.