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Source Texts

As was mentioned in the corpus description page, EPIC is being compiled by recording, digitising, editing and trascribing European Parliament plenary sessions. In this section we give general information on the characteristics of these speeches.

The plenary sessions
The European Parliament normally meets once a month in Strasbourg for a few days: this is called a part-session and daily plenary meetings are called sittings. Additional part-sessions may be convened at the request of any parliamentary committee and may take place either in Strasbourg or in Brussels.
Please note that currently only one part-session (February 2004) is available for querying in EPIC, corresponding to about 18 hours of spoken material (click on Corpus information in the left hand-side bar for precise data, including number of words). Other part-sessions (two in March, April and July) are being processed and will be added to the corpus as they become available.
Before each part-session a draft agenda is prepared, indicating the topics of the debate and voting times for certain items. At the beginning of each part-session, the draft agenda is adopted or amended, if proposals for amendments have been put forward. Once adopted, the agenda cannot be changed, unless there is a request for an extraordinary debate or an urgent procedure.
All the speeches made during the plenaries are transcribed by parliamentary officials to produce the verbatim records (Plenary). However, strictly speaking these verbatim records are not verbatim at all: the transcripts are edited and corrected to eliminate any mistakes or repetitions and the texts are polished in various ways (e.g. lexical alterations, syntactic improvements, etc.). These "verbatim" records are then used to produce the official translations of the debates published in the Official Journal of the European Union.
The range of topics discussed in these speeches is very wide, from human rights to financial services, to fishing, and so on. The specific topics are indicated in the published version of the debates, which includes the agenda for each sitting. We have maintained this information in the headers of our transcripts (in the field Special topic), but we have also classified all the speeches according to macrocategories, i.e. the general topic of each speech. Please click on Header in the left hand-side bar for more information on our header.

The speaking time for each debate is divided among the various political groups for each item on the agenda. MEPs cannot speak unless they are invited to do so by the Chairman of the sitting, who also reminds them of their speaking time as he/she gives them the floor. On average, MEPsí speeches range from a few seconds to about 8 minutes in duration, with the majority lasting between 2 and 6 minutes. Representatives of the European Commission and the European Council are also routinely invited to the European Parliament to inform MEPs on proposals and policies being discussed and/or adopted and to answer MEPsí questions on various issues. The speeches made by European Commission and European Council representatives tend to be longer, averaging about 8-10 minutes. Guests from countries both outside and inside the European Union are often invited on official visits to the Parliament. They generally give their speeches in their own languages, which explains why sometimes interpreters with non-EU official languages have to be hired.


Other useful Links
Members of the European Parliament (5th term 1999-2004)
Members of the European Parliament (6th term 2004-2009)
Rules of procedure of the European Parliament

N.B: Please note that it is possible to switch between all the EU languages when consulting the European Parliament pages.
This interface is still experimental, and it is under constant revision: please check back often, and let us know what you think!

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