As the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are directly elected by EU voters, this institution represents the people. It takes over a major role in making laws, adopting the EU budget and checking on the other EU institutions.
The MEPs are directly elected by EU voters for a 5-year-term. Each EU member state can send a number of MEPs roughly proportional to its population (6-96 per country). In this way, the number of 750 MEPs plus the President comes into existence. In the parliament they do not group according nationalities but according to their political camp.
Passing European laws
Working together with the Council of The European Union, the Parliament decides on the content of laws and officially adopts them. This so-called “Ordinary legislative procedure” covers policies such as consumer protection, environment, agriculture, energy policy, immigration and funds on a EU level.
Furthermore, it is the Parliament’s task to give its permission for a wide range of important decisions (e.g. allowing new EU member states).
The Parliament has a huge influence on the Commission – it has to approve every single Commissioner, it can demand the Commission to resign during its period in office (‘motion of censure’), Parliament committees scrutinize Commissioners and reports of the Commission and even monitors how the Commission is spending the EU budget.
Moreover, the Parliament poses its opinion on the topic of the agenda for the European Council summits.
It considers citizen petitions and establishes committees of inquiry.
Supervising the budget
Together with the Council of the European Union, the Parliament adopts the annual budget of the EU. A committee monitors the spending of the budget throughout the year and passes judgement on how the Commission managed the budget in the previous year.
The place of work of the European Parliament is divided into three headquarters. Plenary sessions take place in Brussels (Belgium) and Strasbourg (France), whereas administrative offices (the ‘General Secretariat’) are located in Luxembourg.
Connection between me as a EU-citizen and the
- I have the right to contact any EU-institution and to receive an answer (in any official language of the EU member states)
- I can obtain access to the Parliament buildings
- I can obtain access to documents of the European Parliament, the European Commission and the European Council under certain circumstances
- I can apply for an internship, study visit or training
- I can gain access to the Parliament’s library
- I can pose a complaint, request, observation, etc. in form of a petition
- I can turn to the European Ombudsman if I feel mistreated by the Parliament or any EU institution
- I can receive patronage for events or projects
- I can win a prize referring to the subjects human rights, cinema, youth projects and good citizenship