Ireland’s 14 freshly elected MEPs are already preparing for the next five years of their political careers.

For the newly elected, this means initially assembling a small backroom team of support staff and sorting out domestic arrangements for life in Brussels.

For the returning MEPs, the focus is on getting selected for the most influential and relevant committees.

There may be ambitions to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Pat Cox and Mairead McGuinness to seek a place among the leadership team of the parliament.

Cox was president of the parliament from 2002 to 2004, while McGuinness was first vice-president until her appointment as commissioner. Alternatively, there are 20 committee chair positions up for grabs.

Seán Kelly is the longest-serving Irish MEP, with 15 years chalked up in the parliament over three terms. Will he look for a high-ranked position? It’s understood that Billy Kelleher and Barry Cowen, both members of Renew as Fianna Fáil MEPs, will seek to serve together on the agriculture committee.

Balance of the parliament

Despite predictions of a strong swing to the right in elections across Europe, there has been little noticeable change in the make-up of the parliament.

The European People’s Party (EPP) (S&D) remains comfortably the biggest grouping in the parliament. It gained three seats, returning with 190 MEPs. Among those are Fine Gael’s four MEPs.

The next biggest grouping is once again the centre-left Socialist and Democrats, which lost 12 seats but retained 136 MEPs. Newly elected Labour MEP Aodhán Ó Ríordáin is expected to join the Socialists.

The Renew Group lost 17 seats, but with 80 seats, the four Fianna Fáil MEPs among them, remains the third biggest grouping.

The right-wing European Conservatives and Reform (ECR) had a good election, gaining 17 seats, and now has 76 MEPs but no Irish representation.

This may have been at the expense of the far-right Identity and Democracy (ID), which lost 18 seats and now has 58 seats, but again no Irish MEPs.

The Greens/EFA lost 15 seats, Grace O’Sullivan and Ciaran Cuffe among them, and now have 52 MEPs. The Left (GUE/NGL) lost 15 seats to fall to 52 seats, among them Irish MEPs Lynn Boylan and Kathleen Funchion (both Sinn Féin) and independent Luke Ming Flanagan.

Two of Ireland’s new MEPs are not affiliated to any grouping as yet. Independent Ireland’s Ciaran Mullooly is currently negotiating with the various groupings, although he said he would not be joining the ECR.

One of his requirements is that he gains access to the pivotal agriculture committee or the environment committee. Similarly, independent Michael McNamara is negotiating, and says that what committee he will join “is interlinked” with what committee he would be appointed to.

Of the four returned MEPs, Luke Ming Flanagan is the only one on the agriculture committee. Billy Kelleher is a substitute on the environment committee.

Who elects who?

The selection of leadership positions can be little confusing.

Ursula von der Leyen is currently the European Commission president. She is appointed by the national leaders of the 27 member states, with the approval of the parliament.

The German politician, a member of the EPP, is seeking to retain her position.

The outgoing president of the European Parliament is Malta MEP Roberta Metsola. That position is voted on by the 720 MEPs.

The third leadership position is the president of the European Council. This involves chairing the meetings of the European Council, which comprises the government leaders of the 27 member states, and representing the EU at global events such as G7 and G20 meetings.

Belgian Charles Michel has just completed the maximum five years in the role.

The European Council met on Tuesday with the first discussions around filling positions taking place.

Speedy resolution

Taoiseach Simon Harris was among those calling for a speedy resolution, saying “it is important we quickly bring clarity to these matters”.

The EPP is pushing for von der Leyen and Metsola to retain their positions, and is offering to share the council president position with the socialists, with former Portuguese prime minister Antonio Costa being backed for the job for the next two and a half year term.

The first plenary session of the new parliament takes place from 16 to 19 July in Strasbourg.