President of the European Parliament
Logo of the Parliament
Roberta Metsola
since 18 January 2022
European Parliament
StatusPresiding officer
Member ofEuropean Parliament
ResidenceLouise Weiss building
SeatStrasbourg, France
AppointerEuropean Parliament
Term length2.5 years, renewable once
Inaugural holderPaul Henri Spaak / Robert Schuman[2]
Formation1952 / 1958[2]
DeputyVice-Presidents of the European Parliament

The president of the European Parliament presides over the debates and activities of the European Parliament. They also represent the Parliament within the European Union (EU) and internationally. The president's signature is required for laws initiated under co-decision and the EU budget.

Presidents serve 2.5-year terms, normally divided between the two major political parties. There have been 30 presidents since the Parliament was created in 1952, 17 of whom have served since the first parliamentary election in 1979. Three presidents have been women and most have come from the older member states.

Role in Parliament

The president chairs debates and oversees all the activities of the Parliament and its constituent bodies (ensuring the Parliament's rules of procedure are applied), in this the role is similar to that of a speaker in a national parliament. Below the president, there are 14 vice-presidents who chair debates when the president is not in the chamber. The president also chairs the meetings of the Bureau, which is responsible for budgetary and administration issues, and the Conference of Presidents, which is a governing body composed of the presidents of each of the parliament's political groups.[3][4]

Position in the Union

The president represents Parliament in all legal matters and external relations, particularly international relations. When the European Council meets, the president addresses it to give the Parliament's position on subjects on the council's agenda. The president also takes part in Intergovernmental Conferences on new treaties. The president's signature is also required for the budget of the European Union and Union acts adopted under codecision procedure to be adopted. The president also chairs conciliation committees with the Council under these areas.[3][4]

In most countries, the protocol of the head of state comes before all others. However, in the EU the Parliament is listed as the first institution, and hence the protocol of its president comes before any other European, or national, protocol. The gifts given to numerous visiting dignitaries depends upon the president. President Josep Borrell MEP of Spain gave his counterparts a crystal cup created by an artist from Barcelona which had engraved upon it parts of the Charter of Fundamental Rights among other things.[5]

With the reorganisation of leading EU posts under the Lisbon Treaty, there was some criticism of each post's vague responsibilities. Ukrainian ambassador to the EU Andriy Veselovsky praised the framework and clarified it in his own terms: The President of the European Commission speaks as the EU's "government" while the President of the European Council is a "strategist". The High Representative specialises in "bilateral relations" while the European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy deals in technical matters such as the free trade agreement with Ukraine. The Parliament's president meanwhile articulates the EU's values such as democratic elections in other countries.[6]


Map showing the number of presidents from each state:

The president is elected by the members of Parliament for a two-and-a-half-year term, meaning two elections per parliamentary term, hence two presidents may serve during any one Parliamentary term. Since the 1980s, the two major parties in the Parliament, the European People's Party (EPP) and Party of European Socialists (PES), have had the custom of splitting the two posts between themselves. For example, in the 2004–2009 legislature the EPP supported the PES candidate for president and, when his term expired in 2007, the PES supported the EPP's candidate. This resulted in large majorities for presidents, although there are some exceptions: in the 1999–2004 legislature, under an EPP–Liberal deal, the president for the second half of the term was a Liberal, rather than a Socialist.[7]

Starting from the 2009–2014 session of the Parliament the outgoing president presides over the election of the new president, provided that the outgoing president is re-elected as an MEP. If the outgoing president is not re-elected as an MEP then one of the 14 vice-presidents takes up the role. While the outgoing president or vice-president is in the chair, they hold all the powers of the president, but the only business that may be addressed is the election of the new president.[8]

Before the ballot nominations are handed to the chair who announces them to Parliament. If no member holds an absolute majority after three ballots, a fourth is held with only the two members holding the highest number of votes on the previous ballot. If there is still a tie following this, the eldest candidate is declared elected.[9]

A number of notable figures have been President of the Parliament and its predecessors. The first president was Paul-Henri Spaak, one of the founding fathers of the Union. Other founding fathers include Alcide de Gasperi and Robert Schuman. The first two female presidents were Simone Veil MEP in 1979 (first president of the elected Parliament) and Nicole Fontaine MEP in 1999, both Frenchwomen.[10] Jerzy Buzek, former Prime Minister of Poland and member of Solidarity Electoral Action, was elected as the first president from the central and eastern European countries which joined in the 2000s (more precisely, he is the first person from a country that joined the EU after 1986 to hold the post).

Oldest member

Main article: Oldest Member (European Parliament)

Prior to 2009, the "oldest member", the eldest MEP (similar to the Father of the House), presided over the chamber during the election of the president rather than the previous president. The member had all the duties of president but the only business that could be addressed was the election of the president.[8]

In 2009, the Parliament's rules were changed so that the outgoing president (if re-elected as an MEP) or one of the outgoing vice-presidents would chair the first session of Parliament until a new president was elected.

Seventh European Parliament


The two major factions of the European Parliament, the EPP and the S&D, have reached a formal agreement to share the presidency under the 2009–2014 term. Under the agreement, Jerzy Buzek would be president in the first half of the term and a S&D member would be elected in the second half (2012–2014) of the term.[11] Martin Schulz (SPD, Germany), leader of the S&D group, was speculated as the likely nominee, and in the event he was elected on 17 January 2012.

Buzek's presidency is part of the usual People's Party – Socialist agreement to have one presidency each of the two during each parliament. For the 2009–2014 term Buzek gets the post for the first term of office of two and a half years, and someone from the Socialists will get it for the second.[12] The 2004–2009 parliamentary term saw a great amount of co-operation between the two groups following on from the 1999–2004 term which saw an EPP-ELDR alliance. The Socialist candidate would be Martin Schulz who was unanimously nominated by the group.[13] Diana Wallis (Liberal) and Nirj Deva (Conservative) also announced candidacies.[14][15]

Meanwhile, Graham Watson, the leader of ALDE, stated he wished to challenge this system of carving up the post, and presented himself as a candidate. He made a point of running a public campaign, to contrast against the closed-doors agreement of Peoples Party-Socialists, which he claimed was the first such campaign to be run. Through this, he also stated he hoped to open up a debate on the role of the president and make the figure more dynamic, to counterbalance the growing power of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.[16] However, on 8 July 2009 Watson announced that he withdrew his candidacy thus leaving Buzek with only one opponent. The other official candidate was Eva-Britt Svensson, nominated from EUL-NGL.[17] She campaigned with the slogan "a different voice". She was the first MEP from Sweden to candidate to the position.

In the first vote of the new Parliament Jerzy Buzek (EPP, Poland) was elected Parliament president, winning with 555 votes to 89 votes over his opponent Eva-Britt Svensson (EUL-NGL, Sweden).[18]

Eighth European Parliament


At the end of Martin Schulz's term, the presidency for the remainder of the eighth European Parliament (2014–2019) would have been due by convention to pass to an EPP member. However, the EPP–S&D agreement appeared broken, making it less certain that Antonio Tajani (EPP, Italy) would be elected president. The other contenders were Gianni Pittella (S&D, Italy), Guy Verhofstadt (ALDE, Belgium), Helga Stevens (ECR, Belgium), Eleonora Forenza (GUE/NGL, Italy) and Jean Lambert (Greens/EFA, UK).[19][20] On 17 January 2017, Tajani was elected after four rounds of voting, following the withdrawal of Verhofstadt and declaration of support for the EPP candidate by the ALDE.

Ninth European Parliament


The election of the President for the first half of the term of the Ninth European Parliament took place on 3 July 2019.[21] David Sassoli (S&D, Italy) was elected as President in the 2nd round of voting.[22]

Candidate Group Ballots
1st Ballot 2nd Ballot
David Sassoli  ITA S&D 325 345
Jan Zahradil  CZE ECR 162 160
Ska Keller  GER G/EFA 133 119
Sira Rego  ESP GUE/NGL 42 43
Votes cast 662 667
Votes needed for election 332 334
Blank or void 73 37
Voted 735 704
Source: European Parliament News


Following various periods of hospitalisation, David Sassoli died on 11 January 2022,[23] one week before the expiry of his term. Roberta Metsola, as First Vice-President, became the acting president.[24]

The election to choose Sassoli's successor took place as previously scheduled on 18 January 2022. The candidates were the acting president Roberta Metsola (EPP, Malta),[25] Alice Bah Kuhnke (Greens/EFA, Sweden),[26] Kosma Złotowski (ECR, Poland; withdrew before the vote),[27] and Sira Rego (The Left, Spain).[28] Metsola was elected in the first round of voting, having secured an absolute majority of 458 out of votes cast.[29] On her election, Metsola became the youngest president ever,[30] the first Maltese person to hold the office, and the first female president since 2002 (and only third female president ever).[31]

President of the
European Parliament
Roberta Metsola (EPP)
of Malta Malta
from 18 January 2022
Candidate Group Remote Ballots
1st Ballot
Roberta Metsola  MLT EPP 458
Alice Bah Kuhnke  SWE G/EFA 101
Sira Rego  ESP GUE/NGL 57
Kosma Złotowski  POL ECR Withdrew[* 1]
Votes cast 616
Votes needed for election 309
Blank or void 74
Voted 690
Source: European Parliament News
  1. ^ Kosma Złotowski withdrew his candidacy at the
    beginning of the day's proceedings, prior to the election.

List of officeholders

See also: History of the European Union

The list below includes all presidents as far back as 1952. However official Parliamentary history does not see continuity between the Common Assembly and the post-1958 European Communities Parliamentary Assembly (the 50th anniversary of the European Parliament was celebrated in 2008, not 2002) so Jerzy Buzek would be the 24th president, not the 28th.

Presidents of the Common Assembly

N. Portrait President
State Took office Left office Party Group Electoral mandate Refs
1 Paul-Henri Spaak
 Belgium 11 September 1952 11 May 1954 PSB–BSP Socialists
1 year, 242 days
2 Alcide De Gasperi
 Italy 11 May 1954 19 August 1954[a] DC Christian Democrats
100 days
3 Giuseppe Pella
 Italy 29 November 1954 27 November 1956 DC Christian Democrats
1 year, 364 days
4 Hans Furler
 West Germany 27 November 1956 19 March 1958 CDU Christian Democrats
1 year, 112 days

Presidents of the Parliamentary Assembly

N. Portrait President
State Took office Left office Party Group Electoral mandate Refs
1 Robert Schuman
 France 19 March 1958 18 March 1960 MRP Christian Democrats
1 year, 365 days
2 Hans Furler
 West Germany 18 March 1960 27 March 1962 CDU Christian Democrats
2 years, 9 days

Presidents of the appointed Parliament

N. Portrait President
State Took office Left office Party Group Electoral mandate Refs
1 Gaetano Martino
 Italy 27 March 1962 21 March 1964 PLI Liberals
1 year, 360 days
2 Jean Duvieusart
 Belgium 21 March 1964 24 September 1965 PSC–CVP Christian Democrats
1 year, 187 days
3 Victor Leemans
 Belgium 24 September 1965 7 March 1966 PSC–CVP Christian Democrats
164 days
4 Alain Poher
 France 7 March 1966 11 March 1969 MRP Christian Democrats
3 years, 4 days
5 Mario Scelba
 Italy 11 March 1969 9 March 1971 DC Christian Democrats
1 year, 363 days
6 Walter Behrendt
 West Germany 9 March 1971 13 March 1973 SPD Socialists
2 years, 4 days
7 Cees Berkhouwer
 Netherlands 13 March 1973 11 March 1975 VVD Liberals
1 year, 363 days
8 Georges Spénale
 France 11 March 1975 8 March 1977 PS Socialists
1 year, 362 days
9 Emilio Colombo
 Italy 8 March 1977 17 July 1979 DC Christian Democrats
2 years, 131 days

Presidents of the elected Parliament

N. Portrait President
State Took office Left office Party Group Election Refs
1 Simone Veil
 France 17 July 1979 19 January 1982 UDF Liberal Democrats 1979
2 years, 186 days
2 Piet Dankert
 Netherlands 19 January 1982 24 July 1984 PvdA Socialists
2 years, 187 days
3 Pierre Pflimlin
 France 24 July 1984 20 January 1987 UDF / RPR European People's Party 1984
2 years, 180 days
4 C. Henry Plumb
 United Kingdom 20 January 1987 25 July 1989 Conservative European Democrats
2 years, 186 days
5 Enrique Barón Crespo
(born 1944)
 Spain 25 July 1989 21 January 1992 PSOE Socialists 1989
2 years, 180 days
6 Egon Klepsch
 Germany 21 January 1992 19 July 1994 CDU European People's Party
2 years, 179 days
7 Klaus Hänsch
(born 1938)
 Germany 19 July 1994 14 January 1997 SPD Party of European Socialists 1994
2 years, 186 days
8 José María Gil-Robles
 Spain 14 January 1997 20 July 1999 PP European People's Party
2 years, 187 days
9 Nicole Fontaine
 France 20 July 1999 15 January 2002 UMP European People's Party 1999
2 years, 179 days
10 Pat Cox
(born 1952)
 Ireland 15 January 2002 20 July 2004 Independent Liberal Democrats
2 years, 187 days
11 Josep Borrell
(born 1947)
 Spain 20 July 2004 16 January 2007 PSOE Party of European Socialists 2004
2 years, 180 days
12 Hans-Gert Pöttering
(born 1945)
 Germany 16 January 2007 14 July 2009 CDU European People's Party
2 years, 179 days
13 Jerzy Buzek
(born 1940)
 Poland 14 July 2009 17 January 2012 PO European People's Party 2009
2 years, 187 days
14 Martin Schulz
(born 1955)
 Germany 17 January 2012 17 January 2017 SPD Socialists & Democrats
5 years, 0 days 2014
15 Antonio Tajani
(born 1953)
 Italy 17 January 2017 3 July 2019 FI European People's Party
2 years, 167 days
16 David Sassoli
 Italy 3 July 2019 11 January 2022[a] PD Socialists & Democrats 2019
2 years, 192 days
Roberta Metsola was Interim President from 11 to 18 January 2022.
17 Roberta Metsola
(born 1979)
 Malta 18 January 2022 Incumbent PN European People's Party
2 years, 28 days


  1. ^ a b Died in office


Roberta MetsolaDavid SassoliAntonio TajaniMartin SchulzJerzy BuzekHans-Gert PötteringJosep BorrellPat CoxNicole FontaineJosé María Gil-RoblesKlaus HänschEgon KlepschEnrique Barón CrespoHenry PlumbPierre PflimlinPiet DankertSimone VeilEmilio ColomboGeorge SpénaleCornelis BerkhouwerWalter BehrendtMario ScelbaAlain PoherVictor LeemansJean DuvieusartGaetano MartinoHans FurlerRobert SchumanHans FurlerGiuseppe PellaAlcide De GasperiPaul-Henri Spaak

See also


  1. ^ English Style Guide: A handbook for authors and translators in the European Commission (PDF) (8 ed.). European Commission. October 2019. p. 119. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  2. ^ a b Parliament began either in 1952 with the Common Assembly or 1958 with the Parliamentary Assembly.
  3. ^ a b "The President of the European Parliament". Europa. Archived from the original on 8 June 2008. Retrieved 19 November 2007.
  4. ^ a b "Duties of the President". European Parliament. Retrieved 12 June 2007.
  5. ^ "Parliament's Protocol Service". European Parliament. 28 July 2006. Retrieved 28 October 2007.
  6. ^ Rettman, Andrew (15 March 2010) Ukraine gives positive appraisal of new-model EU, EU Observer
  7. ^ Settembri, Pierpaolo (2 February 2007). "Is the European Parliament competitive or consensual ... "and why bother"?" (PDF). Federal Trust. Retrieved 7 October 2007.
  8. ^ a b "Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament. Rule 11: Oldest member". European Parliament. Retrieved 12 June 2007.
  9. ^ "Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament. Rule 13 : Election of President – opening address". European Parliament. Retrieved 22 November 2007.
  10. ^ "Former E.P. Presidents". European Parliament. Retrieved 15 June 2007.
  11. ^ "Pole takes EU Parliament chair in 'historic' move | EurActiv". Archived from the original on 9 June 2011. Retrieved 17 January 2022.
  12. ^ "Next EP president to be a Pole?". 22 April 2008. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  13. ^ "PES congratulate Martin Schulz on nomination for European Parliament Presidency". Archived from the original on 3 November 2013. Retrieved 3 December 2011.
  14. ^ "Wallis launches bid to be Parliament president". Retrieved 30 November 2011.
  15. ^ "The man to stop Schulz?". Retrieved 3 December 2011.
  16. ^ Watson, Graham (7 January 2009) Make me president: The next president of the European parliament should be a Lib Dem, and prove that not all Brits are anti-Europe, The Guardian
  17. ^ "GUENGL Press Release". Archived from the original on 15 January 2010. Retrieved 15 March 2010.
  18. ^ "News on the Parliament Website". European Parliament. Archived from the original on 22 July 2009. Retrieved 15 March 2010.
  19. ^ "Surprise in the European Parliament: an election campaign". Politico. 12 January 2017.
  20. ^ "All you need to know about the election of the new Parliament president". European Parliament. 13 January 2017.
  21. ^ Barbière, Cécile (2 July 2019). "EU Parliament re-schedules election of its president". Retrieved 2 July 2019.
  22. ^ "MEPs choose David-Maria Sassoli as new European Parliament president". BBC News. 3 July 2019. Retrieved 18 January 2022.
  23. ^ Andy Bounds in Brussels. "European Parliament president David Sassoli dies aged 65". The Irish Times. Retrieved 18 January 2022.
  24. ^ "EU flags at half-mast after death of parliament speaker Sassoli". France 24. 11 January 2022. Retrieved 18 January 2022.
  25. ^ "Metsola elected EPP Group candidate for President of Parliament".
  26. ^ "Greens/EFA Candidate for President of the European Parliament". Greens/EFA.
  27. ^ "Who's running to be the European Parliament's next president?". euronews. 17 January 2022.
  28. ^ "S&Ds mourn David Sassoli, and continue with the negotiations to elect the Parliament's president for the second half of the mandate". Socialists & Democrats. 11 January 2022.
  29. ^ "Roberta Metsola elected new President of the European Parliament | News | European Parliament". 18 January 2022.
  30. ^ "Malta's Roberta Metsola elected EU Parliament's third woman president". France 24. 18 January 2022. Retrieved 18 January 2022.
  31. ^ "Roberta Metsola elected European Parliament president in landslide victory". Times of Malta. 18 January 2022. Retrieved 18 January 2022.