Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Who would have thought that these “mechanics” of the law would be the first to break the law. When it comes to engaging the services of a solicitor they will not move a finger until their very ridiculous fees are paid AND cleared into their account. However when it comes for them to do business and require services the story changes. You are required to wait until their customer pays them. Stupid, right? Especially when you think that they do not move a finger until they get paid.

There is also another type of “beast”: engaging services paid by the LSC. This is better than anything else. You are expected to wait until THEY get paid…and they allegedly do not get paid until the case it’s finished. LIE..LIE..LIE Could not be a bigger lie. Do not believe them for a second. What they are actually trying to do is save admin time because they can apply for interim payments. Therefore why pay YOU on time, when they cannot.

They truly think they are almighty and that nobody will dare messing with them. I mean, really…who would want to sue a solicitor?

Well. It can be done and you CAN succeed.

Over the years we have heard them all: begging, excuses (in the very best circumstances),etc. If you threaten to sue them they will send you intimidating letters stating they will charge their ridiculous fee, accusations of sending fake vat invoices, etc. I mean really? What else can they invent?

Every month we have problems with at least 2 of these specimens

Here is a list of “stay away from” solicitors.

Gray Hooper Holt LLP Solicitors

Taylor Street


Bendles Solicitors

James Pearce&Co


CGM solicitors


Plexus law


AA Mirsons

Thompson & Co

Linder Myers LLP

World Translation


Mary Monson Solicitors Ltd

S. Satha & Co Solicitors

Where did ALS go wrong?

Apart from the fact that it pissed off too many stakeholders from different areas I think they got too gready too. I understand that we live in world with a messed up economy and one needs to make savings in order to stay on top of things, however one needs to note “how much savings” and how these are applied.

Who have they managed to piss off so far? Well…let’s see: interpreters, translation agencies, MP’s (to be fair some of them as majority do not care much about it), chartered bodies, alliances, unions, solicitors, and the list goes on.

The Government/MOJ awarded this contract to ALS in the name of savings creating a monopoly on the market and allowing to one almighty agency to rule the market. This is wrong at so many levels.

Firstly we, the UK people, are supposed to be living in a democratic society and operating a free market. Having one agency rule the market is not the way forward. Maybe in China and other dictatorship countries…but UK is supposed to be “special”.

The MOJ did not think for a second that it might actually be beneficial to attach some strings to this contract such as: use local people for local jobs, give a certain percentage of jobs to other stakeholders and agencies, etc? Oh..no..God forbid!

And what does almighty ALS do? They publish piss taking rates which – note!! – are not for negotiation. These non-negotiable rates are for freelancers such as spanish translators who work as self employed. Hmm…I wonder what does HMRC think about that when one of the tests of establishing if one is self-employed is “who dictates how where and when and how much”. So then if the answer is ALS, then surely these people all of the sudden become PAYE. Or has common and statutory law changed since this contract was awarded? Have we all of the sudden live on Greek or Spanish grounds?

 So their attitude is “take it or leave it” or “take it or leave profession”! What does the Governement do? Well…to put is bluntly N O T H I N G. They don’t care people go out of business – the very business that is suppose to support the fragile economy – and that these very people are thrown back at the system. How are they thrown back? Well “simples”: if one can’t afford to live they claim benefits. Superb!

I ALS would have partnered with a few other agencies and split the pie, they would have had a lot more success.http://www.appliedlanguage.com/

Saturday, May 26, 2012

An introduction to Subtitling

An introduction to Subtitling

        Applies to any text which is transferred through two codes: the visual and the audio.
        Deals with cinema, television, video and multidimensional products. It has its own characteristics: it requires special learning from the professional due to the constraints and the particular techniques being used (Agost, 1999: 24-25)

Types of Screen Translation

Inter-lingual translation
dubbing voice-over
  Intra-lingual (monolingual)
subtitling for the deaf and hard-of-hearing audiodescription
       Live subtitling (e.g. news broadcasts)
       Surtitling (for opera and the theatre)

What are they?
         DUBBING: replacement of the original track of a film for another on which the translated dialogue is recorded
         VOICE-OVER: the translators voice is heard on the top of the original. The volume is reduced to a low level that can be still heard in the background.
         SIMULTANEOUS INTERPRETING: the interpretation occurs when the SL speaker speaks as quick as the interpreter can formulate the message in the TL

Translation mode which consists in displaying usually at the bottom of the screen a text which intends to account for what has been said (or shown in written form) in the audiovisual product (Díaz-Cintas, 2003:32)

        DUBBING: Spain, Italy, Germany, France, Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Turkey, UK (rare)
        VOICE-OVER: Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, some CIS
        SUBTITLING: Greece, Netherlands, Portugal, Scandinavia, Romania, Slovenia, Bulgaria, UK

         Economic: subtitling and voice-over cheaper than dubbing
         Political: dubbing as a form of censorship
         Ideological: form of self-defence or as expression of nationalim (see Catalonia, Quebec, Wales)
         Technical: technologies available
         The force of the habit: preference for the mode everyone is more familiar with

Original dialogue is lost
Dubbing actors voices can become repetitive
Constrained by lip-sync
Does not distract attention from image
Viewer can follow the sense even if distracted from watching
Allows overlapping of dialogues
Suits for poor readers

SUBTITLING Pollutes the image
Requires more reduction of original information Dispersion of attention (2 codes can disorient) Constrained by time and space
Respects integrity of original dialogue
Suits the hearing impairs and helps immigrants
Promotes learning of foreign languages
Quality of original actors voice ensured

Stages of subtitle production
            being offered/accepting the assignment by a production/distribution company
            getting the tape/DVD/etc and the dialogue list (if available and possibly, a post-production list). Time code is essential.
            watching the entire programme
            preparatory work, e.g. checking the accuracy of the dialogue list, linguistic research, background research
            spotting and then translation or translation and then spotting
            sending the work to your client

TCR (Time Code Reader)
Frame = sequence of images on the screen 1 second = 24 frames (in cinema) = 25 frames (in TV)

Noting in the dialogue list when the
subtitles should start and stop (usually
done by a technician)

         No more than 2 lines on screen
         Each line an avarage of 35 characters including blanks and punctuation marks (max 40 in cinema, max 37 in VHS/DVD, max 35 in television)
         6 seconds rule: an avarage viewer can read a two-line subtitle of 70 characters in 6 seconds
         Each subtitle must be a coherent, logical and syntactical unit.
         Each subtitle must appear at the same time that characters start speaking and be removed when they stop speaking


               Total reduction (elimination) of original information
               Partial reduction (condensation) through:

1.         reformulation, adaptation
2.         simplification of syntax

2a. Deletion of false starts, interjections, (some) repetitions, (some) interpersonal markers
No: Er, it was unexpected. They dont speak that way.
Yes: It was unexpected.
They dont speak that way.

Bibliography (I)
Bernal Merino, Miguel (2002) La traducción audiovisual, Alicante: Universidad de Alicante.
Buckland, W. (1998) Film Studies, London: Hodder & Stoughton.
Carroll, Mary (2004) “Subtitling: changing standards for new media”. Lisa XIII, 3.3
Creeber, G. (ed.) (2001) The Television Genre Book, London: The British Film Institute.
Díaz-Cintas, Jorge (2001a) “Striving for quality in subtitling: the role of a good dialogue list”. In Gambier, Yeves & Henrik Gottlieb(eds) (Multi)Media Translation: Concepts, Practices and Research. Amsterdam & Phildalephia: John Benjamins, 199-211.
(2001b) La traducción audiovisual: el subtitulado. Salamanca: Almar.

Bibliography (II)
(2001c) “The value of the semiotic dimension in the subtitling
of humour”.
In Desblache, Lucile (ed) Aspects of Specialised
Translation. Paris: La maison du dictionaire, 181-191.
(2003) Teoría y práctica de la subtitulación: inglés/español.
Barcelona: Ariel.
Díaz-Cintas, Jorge & Aline Remael (2006) Audiovisual Translation: Subtitling. Manchester and Kinderhook, NY: St Jerome.
Egoyan, Atom & Ian Balfour (eds) (2004) Subtitles: on the Foreigness of Film. Cambridge, Massachussetts: MIT Press.
Frensham, R. G. (1996) Screenwriting, London: Hodder.
Fuentes Luque, Adrián (2003) “An empirical approach to the reception of AV translated humour”. The Translator 9(2): 293-306.
Gottlieb, Henrik (2001) [2000] Screen Translation. Six Studies in Subtitling, Dubbing and Voice-Over. Copenhagen: University of Copenhagen.

Bibliography (III)

Hatim, Basil & Ian, Mason (1997) “Politeness in screen translating”. In The Translator as Communicator. London & New York: Longman Group.

Ivarsson, Jan (1995) “The history of subtitles”. Translatio, Nouvelles de la FIT-FIT Newsletter XIV(3-4): 294-302.

Karamitroglou, Fotios (1998) “A proposed set of subtitling standards in Europe”. Translation Journal 2(2).

Linde, Zoé de (1995) “‘Read my lips’: subtitling principles, practices and problems”. Perspectives: Studies in Translatology 3(1): 9-20.

Mailhac, J.P. (2000) ‘Subtitling and dubbing, for better or worse? The English video versions of Gazon Maudit’. In M. Salama-Carr (ed.) On Translating French Literature and Film, Amsterdam: Rodopi, 129-54.

O’Connell, E.M.T. (2003) Minority Language Dubbing for

Children, Oxford: Peter Lang.


How much do you really know about the EU?

Try our quick quiz challenge to test your EU knowledge. The correct answers will be shown after you complete each question. Scroll to the bottom of the page to check your score.

1. The EU’s roots lie in the Treaty of Rome. What year did the treaty come into force?


The correct answer is 1958. Britain joined in 1973, while the EU name was formally established by the Maastricht Treaty in 1993.

2. Which of the following countries is not a member of the EU?



The correct answer is Norway. Estonia and Malta joined in 2004, but Norway has only an affiliate status as a member of the European Economic Area.

3. How many states are now members of the EU?



The correct answer is 25, raised from 15 with the accession of East European and Mediterranean island states in 2004. The accession process continues, with Bulgaria and Romania expected to join shortly, and negotiations started with Turkey and Croatia.

4. Who is the current president of the European Commission?

Romano Prodi
Jose Manuel Barroso

Jacques Delors

The correct answer is Jose Manuel Barroso, ex-prime minister of Portugal. Romano Prodi and Jacques Delors were both past presidents of the Commission.

5. Which country currently holds the Presidency of the European Union?


The correct answer is Finland. The EU Presidency is occupied by a member state rather than an individual. It rotates between member states on a pre-arranged basis every six months. The UK held the Presidency in the second half in 2005. For information about the Finnish Presidency, visit http://www.eu2006.fi/en_GB/ For informtion on the UK Presidency in 2005 visit www.eu2005.gov.uk

6. Which is the EU’s primary legislative body?

The European Commission
The European Parliament

The Council of Ministers

The correct answer is the Council of Ministers, made up of directly elected ministers from each member state. The European Commission develops proposals which must be considered by the Council of Ministers, and only the latter can pass proposals into law. The European Parliament is the co-legislator for some, but not all, European legislation.

7. How many UK MEPs are there in the European Parliament?



The correct answer is 78. The members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are elected directly for a five year term by the populations of the member states. There are currently 732 MEPS in total. The elected MEPs sit in seven political groups and not as national delegations. For more information about your MEP visit the UK Office of the European Parliament

8. What is the annual net budgetary cost of EU membership per head of the UK population?



The correct answer is about £50*. However it’s estimated that EU membership brings an economic benefit to the UK worth about £300** per head of the population.

9. How many people are in the Single European market?

320 million
450 million

250 million

The correct answer is over 450 million. 320 million was the figure before the 2004 enlargement. The EU is now the largest single market in the developed world, dwarfing the US home market of 250 million (though the large size of that home market has been very significant in supporting the economic prosperity of the USA).

10. Which of these countries has not adopted the Euro?


The correct answer is Denmark, which along with the UK and Sweden chose to stay out of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) when it was launched in 1999. The Greek economy at the time did not meet EMU criteria, though it has since joined. The UK has said that it will only join in EMU when five economic tests are met. Visit www.euro.gov.uk for more information.


The European Union was originally called the European Community. It was established under the Treaty of Rome in 1957/8. There were five major goals of its establishment. These are:

1. The removal of barriers to trade among other nations.

2. The establishment of a single commercial policy towards non-member countries.

3. The eventual coordination of members' transportation systems, agricultural policies, and general economic policies.

4. The removal of private and public measures restricting free competition.

5. The assurance of the mobility of labor, capital and entrepreneurship among the members.

The original members (6) are Belgium, France, Germany (FRD), Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. They are joined by the United Kingdom, Denmark and Ireland in 1973. In 1981, Greece joined the EEC. Portugal and Spain joined in 1986; while Greenland (a dependent state of Denmark) withdrew in 1985. The Treaty of Rome outlined the methods for integration:

Any European State may apply to become a Member of the Union. It shall address its application to the Council, which shall act unanimously after consulting the Commission and after receiving the assent of the European Parliament, which shall act by an absolute majority of its component members. The conditions of admission and the adjustments to the Treaties on which the Union is founded, which such admission entails, shall be the subject of an agreement between Member States and the applicant State. This agreement shall be submitted for ratification by all the contracting States, in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements. (2)

The establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in 1952 was the first step towards formal economic cooperation among Western states. This "formed a common market for iron, coal and steel products among Belgium, the Federal Republic of Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands." The dual creation, in 1957, of the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) and the European Economic Community (EEC) further developed unity in economic and political arenas. The EEC was successful in eliminating tariffs on industrial goods between member countries, and it also created a common agricultural policy.

These three communities - the ECSC, EURATOM, and the EEC - were supervised by a single commission. This became known as the European Community. In 1993, the Maastricht Treaty forged all three communities into one organ under the aegis of the European Union (EU). There are three "common foci" of the EU: the European Community, a promotion of common foreign and security policy, and a cooperation on justice and home affairs.

1952: Creation of the European Coal and Steel Community.

1957: The Treaty of Rome establishes the European Economic Community.

1957: The creation of the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM)

1967: The executive bodies merged together to form a single Council of Ministers and a single commission.

1991: The signing of the Maastricht Treaty by the 12 European Community Heads resulted in an expansion of the Treaty of Rome. The EU then evolved to be called the European Union (EU).

1994: Creation of the European Monetary Institute; would later become the central bank of the international organization.

1995: Sweden, Austria and Finland join the EU.

 Norway is the only country to have twice rejected membership into the European Union. It is unlikely that the new Norwegian government, a minority coalition of the Christian Democratic Party, the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party, with Kjell Magne Bondevik as the Prime Minister. Norway collaborates with the EU on economic ventures, but still remains outside it. Perhaps Norway's stance towards the EU will change once the unified currency is introduced in 2002.

The European Central Bank (ECB) is one of the world's largest central banks, being in charge of monetary policy for the European Union's official currency, the euro, which is used by over 300 million Europeans in 12 EU countries.

The ECB was established on June 1, 1998. The headquarters are located in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

The Union currently has a common single market consisting of a customs union, a single currency managed by the European Central Bank (so far adopted by 12 of the 25 member states), a Common Agricultural Policy, a common trade policy, and a Common Fisheries Policy.[2] A Common Foreign and Security Policy was also established as the second of the three pillars of the European Union. The Schengen Agreement abolished passport control, and customs checks were also abolished at many of the EU's internal borders, creating a single space of mobility for EU citizens to live, travel, work and invest.

The European Parliament's origins go back to the 1950s and the founding treaties, and since 1979 its members have been elected by the people they represent. Every five years elections are held in which registered EU citizens may vote.

The European Union's activities cover all areas of public policy, from health and economic policy to foreign affairs and defence. However, the extent of its powers differs greatly between areas. Depending on the area in question, the EU may therefore resemble a federation (e.g. on monetary affairs, agricultural, trade and environmental policy, economic and social policy), a confederation (e.g. on home affairs) or an international organisation (e.g. in foreign affairs).

The Council of the European Union (French: Le Conseil de l'Union Européenne, German: Rat der Europäischen Union) forms, along with the European Parliament, the legislative arm of the European Union (EU).

The Council of the European Union contains ministers of the governments of each of the European Union member states. It is sometimes referred to in official European Union documents simply as the Council or the Council of Ministers.

The Council has a President and a Secretary-General. The President of the Council is a Minister of the state currently holding the Presidency of the Council of the European Union; while the Secretary-General is the head of the Council Secretariat, chosen by the member states by unanimity. The Secretary-General also serves as the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). The Council is assisted by the Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) , which consists of the ambassadors or their deputies from the diplomatic representations of the Member States to the European Communities. COREPER generally prepares the Council agenda, and negotiates minor and non-controversial matters, leaving controversial issues for discussion, and other issues for formal agreement, by the Council. Below COREPER, civil servants from the member states negotiate in Council working groups, often reaching de facto agreement which is formalised through COREPER and the Council of Ministers. The Council and its preparatory bodies are supported by European career civil servants (approximately three thousand as of July 2005) providing general advice, qualified legal advice, translation services and impartial negotiation assistance.

The Council of the European Union should be distinguished from the European Council, which meets four times a year in what is informally known as the 'European Summit' (EU summit), and is a closely related but separate body, made up with the heads of state and government of the member states, whose mission is to provide guidance and high level policy to the Council. It is also to be distinguished from the Council of Europe which is a completely separate international organisation (at present 46 states), not a European Union institution.


The Council of the European Union is the main legislative institution of the EU. According to Article 202 of the Maastricht Treaty: to ensure that the objectives set out in this Treaty are attained the Council shall, in accordance with the provisions of this Treaty:.

  • ensure coordination of the general economic policies of the Member States,
  • have power to take decisions,
  • confer on the Commission, in the acts which the Council adopts, powers for the implementation of the rules which the Council lays down. The Council may impose certain requirements in respect of the exercise of these powers. The Council may also reserve the right, in specific cases, to exercise directly implementing powers itself. The procedures referred to above must be consonant with principles and rules to be laid down in advance by the Council, acting unanimously on a proposal from the Commission and after obtaining the opinion of the European Parliament.

In effect, the Council performs the following functions:

  • Legislation - the Council passes EU law on the recommendations of the European Commission and the European Parliament.
  • Approval of the EU budget - the Council and the Parliament must agree on the budget.
  • Foreign and defence policy - while each member state is free to develop its own foreign and defence policy, the Council seeks to achieve a common foreign and defence policy for the member states.
  • Economic policy - the Council also seeks to achieve a common economic policy for the member states.
  • Justice - the Council seeks to co-ordinate the justice system of the member states, especially in areas such as terrorism.

The European Parliament (formerly European Parliamentary Assembly) is the parliamentary body of the European Union (EU), directly elected by EU citizens once every five years. Together with the Council of Ministers, it composes the legislative branch of the institutions of the Union. It meets in two locations: Strasbourg and Brussels.

The European Parliament cannot initiate legislation, but it can amend or veto it in many policy areas. In certain other policy areas, it has the right only to be consulted. Parliament also supervises the European Commission; it must approve all appointments to it, and can dismiss it with a vote of censure. It also has the right to control the EU budget.

Other organisations of European countries, such as the OSCE, the Council of Europe, and the Western European Union have parliamentary assemblies as well, but the members of these assemblies are appointed by national parliaments. The European Parliament is directly elected by the people of the European Union and has some restricted legislative power.


The European Parliament represents around 450 million citizens of the European Union. Its members are known as Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). Since 13 June 2004, there have been 732 MEPs. (It was agreed that the maximum number of MEPs should be fixed at 750, with a minimum threshold of six per member state and no member state being allocated more than 96 seats.) Elections occur once in every five years, on the basis of universal adult suffrage. There is not a uniform voting system for the election of MEPs; rather, each member state is free to choose its own system subject to three restrictions1:

·                     The system must be a form of proportional representation, under either the party list or Single Transferable Vote system.

·                     The electoral area may be subdivided if this will not generally affect the proportional nature of the voting system.

·                     Any election threshold on the national level must not exceed five percent.

The allocation of seats to each member state is based on the principle of degressive proportionality, so that, while the size of the population of each country is taken into account, smaller states elect more MEPs than would be strictly justified by their populations alone. As the number of MEPs granted to each country has arisen from treaty negotiations, there is no precise formula for the apportionment of seats among member states. No change in this configuration can occur without the unanimous consent of all governments.

The most recent elections to the European Parliament were the European elections of 2004, held in June of that year. These elections were the largest simultaneous transnational elections ever held anywhere in the world, since nearly 400 million citizens were eligible to vote.

Member state

Member state















1. Includes Gibraltar, but not any other BOT or Crown dependency


It is conventional for countries acceding to the European Union to send a number of observers to Parliament in advance. The number of observers and their method of appointment (usually by national parliaments) is laid down in the joining countries' Treaties of Accession.

Observers may attend debates and take part by invitation, but they may not vote or exercise other official duties. When the countries then become full member states, these observers become full MEPs for the interim period between accession and the next European elections.

In this way, the agreed maximum of 750 parliamentary seats may temporarily be exceeded. For instance, in 2004, the number of seats in the European Parliament was temporarily raised to 788 to accommodate representatives from the ten states that joined the EU on 1st May, but it was subsequently reduced to 732 following the elections in June.

Since September 26, 2005, Bulgaria has 18 observers in Parliament and Romania has 35. These are selected from government and opposition parties as agreed by the countries' national parliaments. In 2007 these observers will become MEPs, but their number is expected to decrease when the number of seats assigned to each country is reassessed, according to the Treaty of Nice.


In five European Union Member States (Belgium, France, Ireland, Italy and the United Kingdom), the national territory is divided into a number of constituencies for European elections. In the remaining 20 Member States the whole country forms a single electoral area. In Germany political parties are entitled to present lists of candidates either at Land (state) or national level. In Finland they may do so either at electoral district or national level. In Poland they may do so only at a constituency level, but seats are allocated nationally.

Powers and functions

In some respects, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers resemble the upper and lower houses of a bicameral legislature. Neither the European Parliament nor the Council of Ministers may initiate EU legislation, this power being reserved by the Commission, and the fact that the European Parliament cannot itself propose laws makes it different from most national legislative assemblies.

However, once a proposal for an EU law or directive has been introduced by the Commission, it must usually receive the approval of both Parliament and Council in order to come into force. Parliament may amend and block legislation in those policy areas that fall under the codecision procedure, which currently make up about three-quarters of EU legislative acts. Remaining policy areas fall under either the assent procedure or (in a very few cases) the consultation procedure; under the former Parliament has power to veto but not formally amend proposals, while under the latter it has only a formal right to be consulted. The European Parliament controls the EU budget, which must be approved by the Council in order to become law.

The President of the European Commission is chosen by the European Council, but must be approved by Parliament before she or he can assume office. The remaining members of the Commission are then appointed by the President, subject to approval of Parliament. Other than its president, members of the Commission are not confirmed by the European Parliament individually; rather, Parliament must either accept or reject the whole Commission en bloc.

The European Parliament exerts a function of democratic supervision over all of the EU's activities, particularly those of the Commission. In the event that Parliament adopts a motion of censure, the entire Commission must resign (formally, Commissioners cannot be censored individually). However, a motion of censure must be approved by at least a two-thirds majority in order to have effect.

Parliament also appoints the European Ombudsman.

Under the proposed new Constitution for Europe, Parliament's powers would be enhanced, with almost all policy areas coming under co-decision, greater powers of democratic scrutiny for Parliament, and control over the whole EU budget.


Although Brussels is generally treated as the 'capital' of the European Union, and the two institutions of the EU's executive, the European Commission and the Council of Ministers, both have their seats there, a protocol attached to the Treaty of Amsterdam requires that the European Parliament have monthly sessions in Strasbourg. Thus the European Parliament is sometimes informally referred to as the 'Strasbourg Parliament' and Strasbourg as the democratic (opposed to bureaucratic) capital of Europe. For practical reasons, however, preparatory legislative work and committee meetings take place in Brussels. Moreover, the European Parliament´s secretariat (administration), which employs the majority of its staff, is located in Luxembourg, which itself used to host plenary sessions of the parliament.

Parliament only spends four days of each month in Strasbourg in order to take its final, plenary votes. Additional plenary meetings are held in Brussels. On several occasions, the European Parliament has expressed a wish to be granted the right to choose for itself the location of its seat, and eliminate the two-seat system, but in the successive treaties, EU member state governments have continued to reserve this right for themselves. While they did abandon the third seat of Parliament, Luxembourg, two decades ago, the rival demands of Belgium (Brussels) and France (Strasbourg) to base parliament in their state has prevented a final agreement as to which city would become the sole seat of parliament.

Moving various files and equipment between the two cities takes 10 large trucks and the costs for two locations are estimated at € 200 million a year. A force of 30 men loads the trucks for the 400 km journey between the two locations. Around 5,000 people attached to the European Parliament, such as parlamentarians, advisors, clerks and journalists, also move between Brussels and Strasbourg. Most of the parlamentarians are against using Strasbourg and various initiatives have been taken over the years to have Brussels as the sole location. The latest of these initiatives is a EU wide online petition which can be signed on oneseat.eu.


The European Parliament has a number of governing bodies and committees, and a number of delegations from external bodies.

The main offices and governing bodies are:

·                     President - duties

·                     Vice-Presidents - duties

·                     Bureau - duties

·                     Conference of Presidents - duties

·                     Quaestors - duties

·                     Conference of Committee Chairmen - description

·                     Conference of Delegation Chairmen - description

List of committees

External affairs

·                     AFET - Committee on Foreign Affairs

o                  DROI - Subcommittee on Human Rights

o                  SEDE - Subcommittee on Security and Defence

·                     DEVE - Committee on Development

INTA - Committee on International Trade




Internal affairs

·                     BUDG - Committee on Budgets

·                     CONT - Committee on Budgetary Control

·                     ECON - Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs

·                     EMPL - Committee on Employment and Social Affairs

·                     ENVI - Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety

·                     ITRE - Committee on Industry, Research and Energy

·                     IMCO - Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection

·                     TRAN - Committee on Transport and Tourism

·                     REGI - Committee on Regional Development

·                     AGRI - Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development

·                     PECH - Committee on Fisheries

·                     CULT - Committee on Culture and Education

·                     JURI - Committee on Legal Affairs

·                     LIBE - Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs

·                     AFCO - Committee on Constitutional Affairs

·                     FEMM - Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality

·                     PETI - Committee on Petitions 

Political groups and parties

The EP groups as of April 8, 2006

The political parties in the European Parliament are organised into a number of political groupings as well as a number of registered European political parties. However most continue to be members of separate national political parties and discipline within European parties and groupings is not rigid. The makeup of the parliament's groups is fluid, and both national delegations and individual MEPs are free to switch allegiances as they see fit.

European Parliament party groups are distinct from the corresponding European political parties, although they are intimately linked. Usually, the European parties also have member parties from European countries which are not members of the European Union. At the start of Parliament's sixth term in 2004 there were seven groups, as well as a number of non-aligned members, known as non-inscrits.

European Parliament seats by political groups, from 1979 to 2004

As of April 8, 2006 the composition of the European Parliament is:

Component parties/subgroups
Party of the European Left
Nordic Green Left Alliance (NGLA)
other unaffiliated leftist parties
Alliance of Independent Democrats in Europe
other unaffiliated rightist Euroskeptic parties


Entrance to the European Parliament in Brussels

The European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) established a 'Common Assembly' in September, 1952, its 78 members drawn from the six national Parliaments of the ECSC's constituent nations. This was expanded in March 1958 to also cover the European Economic Community and Euratom, and the name European Parliamentary Assembly was adopted. The body was renamed to the European Parliament in 1962. In 1979 the parliament's membership was expanded again and its members began to be directly elected for the first time. Thereafter the membership of the European Parliament has simply expanded whenever new nations have joined; the membership was adjusted upwards in 1994 after German reunification. Recent treaties, including the Treaty of Nice and the proposed Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, set a cap on membership at 750.


The European Commission (formally the Commission of the European Communities) is the executive body of the European Union. Alongside the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union, it is one of the three main institutions governing the Union.

Its primary roles are to propose and implement legislation, and to act as 'guardian of the treaties' which provide the legal basis for the EU. The role of the European Commission has many parallels with the executive body of a national government, but also differences (see below for details).

The Commission consists of 25 Commissioners, one from each member state of the EU, supported by an administrative body of several thousand European civil servants divided into departments called Directorate-General. The term "the Commission" is generally used to refer both to the administrative body in its entirety, and to the team of Commissioners who lead it.

Unlike the Council of the European Union, the Commission is intended to be a body independent of member states. Commissioners are therefore not permitted to take instructions from the government of the country that appointed them, but are supposed to represent the interests of the citizens of the EU as a whole.

The Commission is headed by a President (currently José Manuel Durão Barroso). Its headquarters are located in Brussels and its working languages are English, French and German.

Responsibilities of the Commission

The Commission differs from other institutions in the EU system through its power of initiative. This means that only the Commission has the authority to initiate legislation in the areas known as the "first pillar". However, the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament are both able to formally request that the Commission legislate on a particular topic. In the areas that fall within the "second pillar" (foreign policy and defence) and "third pillar" (criminal law), the Commission shares the power of initiating legislation with the European Council.

The Commission also takes the role of guardian of the treaties, which includes taking responsibility for initiating infringement proceedings at the European Court of Justice against member states and others who it considers to have breached the EU treaties and other community law.

The Commission negotiates international trade agreements (in the World Trade Organization) and other international agreements on behalf of the EU. It closely co-operates in this with the Council of the European Union.

The Commission is responsible for adopting technical measures to implement legislation adopted by the Council and, in most cases, the Parliament. This legislation is subject to the approval of committees made up of representatives of member states. This process is sometimes known by the jargon term of comitology.

The Commission also regulates competition in the Union, vetting all mergers with Community-wide effects and initiating proceedings against companies which violate EU competition laws.


The European Commission is led by Commissioners who are proposed by national governments and approved by the European Parliament, rather than being directly elected by citizens. Although the Commission has no legislative power, it is essentially the executive of the European Union and is the only body empowered to draft legislative proposals.