European Parliament

European Parliament
   The European Parliament was first directly elected in 1979, with the number of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from each country determined by its size. There are currently 785 members, the UK having 78. The whole Parliament meets in Strasbourg one week in every month, but much of the important work is done in one of the 20 all-party standing committees based in Brussels. MEPs belong to European party groups of which the two largest are the Party of European Socialists (PES) on the left and the European People’s Party (EPP) on the centre-right. The main powers of the EP are: to vote on the acceptance of new member states; to reject or amend Council decisions affecting the Single Market; to reject or amend the EU budget; to dismiss the entire Commission, on a two-thirds majority; and to accept or reject a new President of the Commission.
   Traditionally derided as a ‘talking shop’, the EP’s bid for a more meaningful role was recognised in the Single European Act and in subsequent treaties. But many commentators still feel that it should have a clearer identity and more meaningful functions. Some member states have tried to limit the effectiveness of the Parliament and prevent it from acquiring new powers, fearing that any strengthening of the chamber might endanger the sovereignty of national parliaments. However, MEPs have struggled to gain greater influence in the affairs of the EU and in the legislative area, though their powers have increased as a result of treaty changes and in particular co-decision.
   Further reading: N. Nugent, The Government and Politics of the European Union, Palgrave, 2003

Glossary of UK Government and Politics . 2013.

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