- EU Parliament in Brussels (Photo: European Parliament)
The EU Parliament is the assembly of the representatives of the 374 million Union citizens. Since 1979 they have been elected by direct universal voting every five years.
At the moment, the EU Parliament has a total of 732 members distributed between Member States according to the sizes of their populations.
- The EU Parliament considers the EU Commission's proposals and is associated with the Council in the law-making process, in some cases as co-legislator. Under this procedure it can amend laws by an absolute majority of its members (367/732) and veto decisions.
- The EU 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. It has the last say on non-compulsory expenditures.
- It exercises democratic supervision over the EU Commission. It approves the nomination of Commissioners, has the right to censure the EU Commission and grants discharge.
- It also exercises political supervision over all the institutions.
The EU Parliament will also have greater influence in a greater number of areas as the co-decision procedure will be applied in more areas - now called the "ordinary legislative procedure".
From 2009 the seats in the EU Parliament will be distributed according to the principle of "degressive proportionality" securing each member state at least 6 seats in a parliament of maxium 750 members.