At the present stage of development, in the absence of a real European party statute, the political groups of the European Parliament are mainly coalitions of representatives from different national political parties, but they are still vital to the conduct of political business.
Those who want an overview of the history until the present situation can read the Wikipedia article Political groups of the European Parliament (latest modification 27 February 2009):
The 785 members of the European Parliament are spread across seven political groups, but some MEPs are non-attached. The membership numbers of the groups are from the Wikipedia article. I have added the web addresses.
The lengthy names are an indication that the political groups (and the political parties) at European level are still mainly coalitions of more or less likeminded national political parties.
The Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats (EPP-ED) is the largest political group with 288 members of the European Parliament:
With 215 MEPs the Socialist Group in the European Parliament (PSE) is the second largest:
Third in size is the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) with 101 MEPs:
Union for Europe of the Nations (UEN) has the fourth largest group, with 44 members:
The Group of Greens─European Free Alliance (Greens─EFA) has a group of 42 MEPs:
The Confederal Group of the European United Left─Nordic Green Left (GUE─NGL) has 41 members:
Independence/Democracy (I/D) houses 24 MEPs:
There are now 30 MEPs outside the political groups, classified as Non-Inscrits (NI).
In the following post we look at how the EP’s Rules of Procedure make the political groups the lifeblood of parliamentary business.