European parliament

The members of the european parliament are elected by the electorate of each member country.

The European Parliament is made up of members elected by the electorate of each of the European Union countries. It is the only directly elected EU body.

The elections take place every five years. Over the last few decades the powers of the European Parliament have increased and it now acts as a co-legislator for nearly all EU law.

Find out more about the Legislative powers and the Law-making procedures in detail.

The Treaty of Lisbon 2009 strengthened the role for the European Parliament:

'the European Parliament, directly elected by EU citizens, is provided with important new powers regarding EU legislation, the EU budget and international agreements. In particular, the increase of co-decision procedure in policy-making ensures that the European Parliament is placed on an equal footing with the Council, representing Member States, for the vast bulk of EU legislation.'

It now co-decides, with the EU governments, in nearly all policy areas.  It does have a power of political initiative, the assent of Parliament is needed to any international agreements the Union may want to enter into, thus giving it an important role in decisions regarding the admission of new members to the Union.

Together with the Council, the Parliament adopts or amends proposals from the Commission. Parliament also supervises the work of the Commission and adopts the European Union's budget.

The three main roles of the European Parliament are:

  • debating and passing European laws, with the Council
  • scrutinising other EU institutions, particularly the Commission, to make sure they are working democratically
  • debating and adopting the EU's budget, with the Council.

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European Parliament United Kingdom Office

What has the European Parliament ever done for us?

Click for everything you always wanted to know about the ordinary legislative procedure.

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