It’s during plenary sessions that committees and political groups present the results of their work. It is also where the MEPs, the only EU representatives directly elected by citizens of the 28 Member States, participate in decision making.
There are 12 plenary sessions per year held in Strasbourg and each session lasts four days. In addition, the MEPs meet for two days ‘mini sessions’ in Brussels.
During the sessions, MEPs debate and vote on the texts submitted. There are several types of procedures for examining legislative reports but only the co-decision procedure puts the Parliament’s legislative role on an equal footing with the Council of the European Union. To challenge the other institutions, the European Parliament is able to adopt non-legislative reports that are drafted in the committees. What’s more, if they consider it necessary, MEPs can raise any subject they deem important at plenary. They can also ask the European Commission to submit a proposal on any issue that they think requires community legislation. MEPs also have a role in budgetary matters.
Plenary debates can be followed live on the plenary webpage. For forthcoming debates, estimated timing and lists of speakers are published and updated in real time.
You can find a comprehensive guide to plenary here.