An observer is a person who can participate in a meeting but has no voting rights.
The applicant countries were allowed to send observers to all Council meetings and working groups before the ten countries entered in May 2004 and Romania and Bulgaria in 2007. They could speak at these meetings, but not vote.
Applicant countries can ask for a formal consultation if an EU proposal may affect them. Consultations will then be held in a special Interim Committee composed of representatives from the existing member states, the candidate countries and the EU Commission.
If an applicant country votes “No” to its Accession Treaty in a referendum the observers from that country will withdraw.
From the European elections in 2009 to the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty some of the MEPs are observers without voting right. The EP expanded from 736 to 754 members when the observers have their voting right. From 2014, there is 751 MEPs.