The European Parliament (EP) is the legislative body of the European Union, directly elected, having budgetary and control responsibilities. MEPs, numbering 705, belong to political groups (eg. European People’s Party Group, Renew Europe Group, EP Left Group) and organize themselves into parliamentary committees.

The political and legislative activity of the Parliament is carried out within 20 committees and 3 subcommittees. At the beginning of each new legislature, the European Parliament decides which parliamentary committee each deputy will be part of.

What is the role of the European Parliament?

The European Parliament has 3 main roles:

  • legislative role

EP adopts European Union legislation, together with the EU Council, based on Commission proposals (Ordinary Legislative Procedure).

The European Commission prepares legislative proposals which will be sent to the European Parliament and the Council. After the proposal reaches the Parliament, the President of the EP forwards the file to a competent parliamentary committee (chosen according to the field covered by the proposal). The EP discusses and votes on the legislative proposal in plenary, based on the report and the amendments proposed by the committee.

The Parliament can accept the proposal without changes, adopt amendments or, more rarely, the EP President can ask the Commission to withdraw its proposal. This position of the EP is forwarded to the Council. The Council can accept the position of the EP, in which case the act is adopted, or make changes to the position of the EP, the act and the changes made by the Council being sent to the EP for the second reading.

Parliament has 3 months (with the possibility of extension) to examine the Council’s position. There are 4 ways to finish the second reading: (i) The Parliament adopts the Council’s position and the act is adopted; (ii) The Parliament fails to adopt a decision within the stipulated period, in which case the act is adopted, as amended by the Council in the first reading; (iii) The Parliament rejects the Council’s first reading position, in which case the act is not adopted, and the procedure ends; (iv) The Parliament proposes amendments to the Council’s first reading position and transmits its position to the Council for the second reading.

The second reading of the Council can last up to 3 months (with the possibility of extension) and can be completed as follows: (i) the Council adopts the position of the EP from the second reading and the act is adopted or (ii) it does not approve the amendments of the EP, in this case the President of the Council and the President of the Parliament convene the conciliation committee. The Conciliation Committee, made up of an equal number of MEPs and Council representatives, has 6 weeks to decide on a joint text based on the latest positions of the Parliament and the Council. After the committee adopts a joint text, it is sent to the EP and the Council for a third reading.

If the committee does not adopt a joint text, the proposal becomes lapsed and the legislative procedure ends. For the third reading, the co-legislators have 6 weeks to make a decision: approve or reject the text. Thus, if the Parliament and the Council approve the joint text, the legislative proposal is adopted. If either or both institutions reject the text, the proposal becomes invalid and the procedure ends.

It takes decisions on international agreements and on EU enlargement.

The Parliament’s approval is required for all EU enlargement decisions, as well as for the conclusion of trade agreements and other international agreements with countries outside the European Union.

Examines the committee’s work program and asks it to propose legislative acts.

  • supervisory role

EP exercises democratic control over all EU institutions.

It elects the President of the Commission and approves the College of Commissioners as a whole. It can resort to a motion of censure. The Commission is led by the College of Commissioners, which consists of the President of the Commission and 27 commissioners, one from each EU country. The most important mechanism of political control over the Commission is the adoption of a motion of censure, causing all the members of the Commission to resign collectively from their positions.

It approves how the EU budget has been spent (discharge). As an institution representing European taxpayers, Parliament exercises democratic control to ensure that European institutions, including the Commission, properly manage European funds. The Parliament, on the recommendation of the Council of the European Union, decides whether to grant the discharge, i.e. the final approval of the execution of the budget for a certain financial year.

It analyzes citizens’ petitions and it forms commissions of inquiry.

It discusses monetary policies with the ECB.

It addresses questions to the Committee and the Council. It hears the European Council and the Council of the EU. The President of the European Council presents a report to the Parliament after each meeting of the European Council.

It participates in election observation missions.

  • budgetary role

It sets the EU budget, together with the Council. The commission prepares the annual draft budget, which is submitted to the Parliament and the Council by September 1st. The Council adopts a position on the draft budget and forwards it to the European Parliament by October 1st. At the same time, the parliamentary committees discusses the draft budget and issue opinions to the budget committee, which is responsible for preparing the Parliament’s position. Parliament has 42 days to approve the Council’s position or to change it with an absolute majority. If the Parliament approves the position of the Council or takes no decision, the budget is considered adopted. Most of the time, the Parliament adopts amendments and the text is sent to the Council.

The President of the Parliament convenes a meeting of the conciliation committee. If, within 10 days, the Council communicates to the Parliament that it agrees with its amendments, the committee no longer meets. The Conciliation Committee has 21 days to reach an agreement on a joint text. If an agreement is reached, the Council and Parliament have 14 days to approve it. The President of the Parliament then signs the budget and declares it definitively adopted.

It approves the EU’s long-term budget.

In conclusion, the European Parliament represents an institution with a clear democratic character that ensures the representation of the interests of the citizens of the European Union, being the only institution whose members are directly elected, and the political groups at the European level “contribute to the formation of European political consciousness and to the expression of the will of the citizens of the Union”.

Gavril Ilinca

Legal Intern R&R Partners Bucharest

If you would like to address more questions or if you need a legal consultation, you can contact us at or by accessing our site for more information.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube Channel where new and updated content is posted monthly on various current topics!

Keep up to date with our latest articles!