The European Parliament is the only directly-elected EU body and one of the largest democratic assemblies in the world. Its 754 Members are there to represent the EU's 500 million citizens. They are elected once every five years by voters from across the 27 Member States.
Once elected, Members organise along political lines. They form political groups to better defend their positions. Currently there are seven groups.
Most of Parliament's in-depth work is done in specialised committees that prepare reports that will later be voted on in the plenary.
The Parliament's rules of procedure provide a detailed framework for the Parliament at work. Being a representative of all European citizens, the assembly's multilingualism has become one of its most important aspects. Parliamentary documents are published in all the official languages of the EU and every MEP has the right to speak in the official language of their choice.
Powers and Functions
The European Parliament has been steadily gaining power over recent decades and now acts as a co-legislator for nearly all EU law. 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. See how it all works here. Beyond these official powers the Parliament also works closely with national parliaments of EU countries. Regular joint parliamentary assemblies allow for a better inclusion of national perspectives into the Parliament's deliberations. The European Parliament is a defender of human rights and democracy in Europe and abroad. The Charter of Fundamental Rights in the European Union sets out the civil, political, economic and social rights of all individuals living on EU territory.
The European Parliament shares legislative power equally with the Council of the European Union. This means it is empowered to adopt European laws (directives, regulations etc,). It can accept, amend or reject the content of European legislation.
How does the legislative process work in practical terms?
A Member of the European Parliament, working in one of the parliamentary committees, draws up a report on a proposal for a ‘legislative text’ presented by the European Commission, the only institution empowered to initiate legislation. The parliamentary committee votes on this report and, possibly, amends it. When the text has been revised and adopted in plenary, Parliament has adopted its position. This process is repeated one or more times, depending on the type of procedure and whether or not agreement is reached with the Council.
In the adoption of legislative acts, a distinction is made between the ordinary legislative procedure (codecision), which puts Parliament on an equal footing with the Council, and the special legislative procedures, which apply only in specific cases where Parliament has only a consultative role.
On certain questions (e.g. taxation) the European Parliament gives only an advisory opinion (the ‘consultation procedure’). In some cases the Treaty provides that consultation is obligatory, being required by the legal base, and the proposal cannot acquire the force of law unless Parliament has delivered an opinion. In this case the Council is not empowered to take a decision alone.
Parliament has a power of political initiative.
It can ask the Commission to present legislative proposals for laws to the Council. It plays a genuine role in creating new laws, since it examines the Commission’s annual programme of work and says which laws it would like to see introduced.
†Link to website - http://www.europarl.europa.eu/portal/en†
European Parliament Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM Committee)
The FEMM Committee has responsibilities in the†areas of:
- the definition, promotion and protection of women's rights in the European Union and related Community measures;†
- the promotion of women's rights in third countries;†
- equal opportunities policy, including equality between men and women with regard to labour market opportunities and treatment at work;†
- the removal of all forms of discrimination based on sex;†
- the implementation and further development of gender mainstreaming in all policy sectors;†
- the follow-up and implementation of international agreements and conventions involving the rights of women;†
- information policy on women.
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