- European Parliament in Brussels (Photo: European Parliament)
The European Parliament is the assembly of the representatives of more than 507 million Union citizens and close to 412 million potential voters in 2014.
The Parliament participates in the ordinary legislative procedure, adopts the budget and participates in the Consultation procedure, gives consent to international treaties and “elects” the Commission after appointment from the European Council.
MEPs also scrutinizes the other institutions and approve the accounts in a so-called discharge procedure.
The European Parliament elects the Commission by an absolute majority of its members. However, the national prime ministers or presidents of the European Council appoints the members the elected representatives can vote on. In 2014 the European Parliament established a "democratic coup" and proposed and elected their own candidate as President of the Commisison. See under Commissiion and Commission President.
The European Parliament participates in the ordinary legislative procedure and may propose amendments and reject laws by an absolute majority of its members. In practice, 80% of the laws are adopted in the first reading. Representatives of Parliament participated in about 1000 tripartite meetings in 2013.
Here they can get a great personal influence on the law making.
From 2009-14, Parliament has had 76 sessions, which lasted 2150 hours in total. They have treated 45,000 amendments and voted on 970 acts and 754 non-legislative resolutions. The members voted 22,403 times by roll-call votes or electronically. The figures have not included the two collections in April 2014.
Under the Nice Treaty MEPs were "representatives of the peoples of the States brought together in the Community" (Article 189 TEC). Under the Lisbon Treaty MEPs are now "representatives of the Union's citizens" (Article 14.2 TEU).
The European Parliament has a total of 751 members distributed between member states according to the size of their populations based on the principle of "degressive proportionality".
Notes and more detai
- The European Parliament considers the EU Commission's proposals and is associated with the Council in the law-making process, in most cases in co-decision under the so-called ordinary legislative procedure.
- Under this procedure, it can propose to amend laws by simple majority in first reading and an absolute majority of its members in the second reading and veto decisions also with absolute majority of its members.
- Absolute majority of members was 393/785, 369/736 from June 2009 to 2012 and was 378/754 until 1 July 2014 where it fell to 376/751.
- The European Parliament shares budgetary authority with the Council, and can therefore influence EU spending. The Parliament must approve every budget. At the end of the procedure it does so by adopting the budget. Until the Lisbon Treaty, it only had the last say on non-compulsory expenditures.
- It exercises democratic supervision over the EU Commission. It approves the nomination of Commissioners as a college, has the right to censure the full EU Commission with 2/3 majority and Absolute majority of its members. It also grants discharge.
- The EP exercises political supervision over all the institutions.
- A Reform Working Group was established after the election campaign for the presidency of the European Parliament in 2007. It met 37 times, including 3 seminars. The final report was published in April 2009.
- In January 2012, Martin Schulz succeeded Jerry Buzek as President in an electoral agreement between the two biggest political groups. The deal was continued in 2014 where Schulz was re-elected for 2 1/2 years.
The Lisbon Treaty has removed the distinction between compulsory and non-compulsory expenditure, thus giving the European Parliament an influence on all budgetary categories – except agriculture expenditure.
The European Parliament now also have greater influence in a greater number of areas as the co-decision procedure is applied in more areas - now called the "ordinary legislative procedure".
With the Lisbon Treaty the seats in the European Parliament are distributed according to the formalised principle of "degressive proportionality" securing each member state at least 6 seats and a maximum of 96 in a Parliament of 751 members - from 2014.
Numbers may change again because of new enlargements.
European Parliament website http://www.europarl.europa.eu/