The European Parliament (EP) is formally the legislative branch of the European Union, although legislative powers are shared with other institutions. It is composed of 705 members (MEPs) elected every five years.
The MEPs are grouped into different loosely organized political groups. The political groups are usually the formal representation of a European Union-regulated "European political party". In other cases, political groups are political coalitions of a number of European parties, national parties, and independent politicians.