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Member of the European Parliament

Member of the European Parliament is abbreviated MEP in English-language, mirroring the British MP abbreviation. The name Euro-MP is also used colloquially to mean the same thing.

Members were originally appointed to the European Parliament. Later, a system of elections was introduced. The electoral rules differ widely from member-state to member-state. The salaries also differ, being based in most cases on the salaries of national parliamentarians in the states that elect the Members, but there are plans to change this and to introduce a uniform salary for all MEPs.

In the United Kingdom, since 1999 elections to the [European Parliament have used the party list system of proportional representation. Before then, the UK's characteristic first-past-the-post system was used (as with elections to the House of Commons, but with larger electoral districts or constituencies). There is a separate party list in each region, e.g. East Midlands, South East England, etc. One effect of the PR elections was that some minor-party MEPs, including Green Party and UK Independence Party (UKIP) members were elected for the first time in a UK Euro-election - whereas in 1989, Greens had won 15% of the vote in the UK Euro-election but not gained a single seat. The list system remains controversial because electors must vote for a party instead of an individual, which is counter to the UK's traditions.

One prominent MEP has been Daniel Cohn-Bendit, the former German Green, now a French Green member and leader of the Green Group in the European Parliament. Cohn-Bendit was a student radical in the 60s and still holds strong views - though by no means an orthodox leftist.

In most countries, MEPs have a lower public profile than national parliamentarians. They sit in a parliament whose powers are much less extensive than those of national parliaments. Some argue that the European Union suffers a democratic deficit because the European Parliament remains weak compared with the influence wielded by the European Commission and Council of Ministers, which are perceived as less open and less democratic (although the Council consists of appointees, usually Cabinet members, of elected national governments).