The European Parliament comprises 751 elected Members with serious legislative, budgetary and decision-making powers.
Parliament enjoys co-decision powers in major areas of EU law-making, including health, education, transport, agriculture, fisheries and the completion of the internal market. The Parliament plays an active role in monitoring activities within the European Commission and the European Council, and is closely involved in appointing the Commission as well as discharging the EU's annual budget.
The Lisbon Treaty has brought about further changes including a strengthened role for the European Parliament and national Parliaments, more opportunities for citizens to have their voices heard through the European Citizens' Initiative, and a clearer delineation of competencies at European and national level.
Election of the Parliament
Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) were first elected by direct universal suffrage in 1979; European elections have been held ever since at five year intervals - the last one being in May 2014. A common set of election rules apply throughout Europe. All MEPs are elected under a system of proportional representation; every citizen has a right to vote at 18; equality of men and women is guaranteed and the principle of the secret ballot is written into European election law. Additionally, every EU citizen who lives in another country of the EU may vote or stand for election in their country of residence. Parliament thus expresses the democratic will of the Union's 503 million citizens and represents their interests in the creation of European laws.
Learn more at the Parliament's website.