Who sits in the European Parliament? Age & gender

Who sits in the European Parliament? Division by age and gender

With 751 Members of European Parliament (MEPs) from 28 countries, the European Parliament hosts a diverse group of lawmakers. But how diverse is this group exactly? How are they divided by age, gender and their educational and occupational background?

During the On Our Watch hackathon (October 2017), we looked at precisely this question. We collected data from the CV’s of MEPs and on the basis of this, we visualise the composition of the European Parliament. You will find the results for age/gender division below!

Read more about their educational background and occupational background.


How old are our representatives in the European Parliament?

Age groups per country

When looking at the different countries and age groups, there are several countries that bring a young (20-39) group of legislators in the European Parliament, the highest being Bulgaria, Romania and Denmark.

A few countries that do not have a single lawmaker currently aged 39 or less in their national delegations: Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Luxembourg and Poland bring the oldest delegations to the European Parliament, with the largest share of parliamentarians over 60.

Age groups per political group

When looking at the different countries and political groups, the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy Group (EFDD) has the youngest group of lawmakers, with the largest <39 group and the smallest >60 group.

Following EFDD, the European United Left – Nordic Green Left Group (GUE/NGL) and the Greens – European Free Alliance Group (Verts/ALE) have the largest share of parliamentarians under 39.

However, the difference between political groups is less clear than the difference between countries, as shown above.

Only the Non-Attached Members (shown as NA/NI) have no colleagues under 39 amongst them, and most members above the age of 60. Non-Attached Members are members of the European Parliament who do not sit in one of the recognised political groups.

Age groups per parliamentary committee

With regard to the different parliamentary committees, the youngest age groups is distributed fairly evenly across the committees.

The biggest difference is in the age group over 60. They tend to be overrepresented in two key parliamentary committees: Constitutional Affairs (AFCO) and Foreign Affairs (AFET), as well as the committees on Development (DEVE) and Human Rights (DROI).

The ‘youngest’ committee by far is the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM).

* Want to know what all these abbreviations mean? Have a look at the different committees here!



What about gender representation in the European Parliament?

Gender division per country

A few of the 28 EU Member States bring a very gender-balanced group of lawmakers to the European Parliament, in particular Finland, Croatia, Ireland, Austria, Estonia, Malta, Latvia and Sweden, who do not exceed a share of 50 percent of male parliamentarians.

On the other side of the spectrum, with less than 25 percent of female parliamentarians, one finds Cyprus, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Hungary.

Gender division per political group

As with age, the gender division is less profound when compared by group than per country. However, the Greens – European Free Alliance Group (Verts/ALE) is the only group where men do not outnumber women.

On the other side, the Non-Attached Members are predominantly male (remember, they were also the oldest group of members!), followed by the European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR) and European People’s Party Group (PPE).

A clear division is visible between the groups on the progressive / left side of the political spectrum, which are more gender-balanced, and the groups on the conservative / right side of the political spectrum, which seem to be more male-dominated.

Gender division per parliamentary committee

One clear take-away: when it comes to Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM), this clearly gets more attention from female lawmakers (more than 75 percent!) than male lawmakers.

The other three parliamentary committees that can a majority of female lawmakers are the committees on Petitions (PETI), Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), and Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL).

The committees that have the largest number of male representatives – even over 75 percent – are those on Budgetary Control, Economic and Monetary Affairs, Foreign Affairs and Constitutional Affairs (those latter two, again, where also characterised by the highest age groups!).

Without taking those ‘in the middle’ into account, this graph seems to indicate a link between gender balance and so-called ‘soft’ or ‘hard’ subjects when it comes to lawmaking.