Let’s begin this with a video ‘European Parliament political week news in 60 seconds’ (BBC, 2012) showing what the European Parliament normally does:
What were the issues discussed by the MEPs that week?
Article 14 of the Lisbon Treaty describes the functions of the European Parliament:
The European Parliament shall, jointly with the Council, exercise legislative and budgetary functions. It shall exercise functions of political control and consultation as laid down in the Treaties. It shall elect the President of the Commission.
(Consolidated versions of the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, 2010)
The Parliament’s powers are then:
Budgetary: together with the Council of Ministers, the Parliament agrees on the budget.
- The Commission drafts the budget and in April each year sends it to the Council of Ministers and the Parliament
- The Parliament debates it and, if needed, proposes changes. The draft is sent to the Council, which can propose its own changes, if required, and forwards it back to the Parliament for the second reading.
- The Parliament can reject it (as it did it in 1979, 1982, and 1984) or adopt it .
Scrutiny: the Parliament has powers over the European Commission and the Presidency of the Council.
- It can dismiss the Commission and the Commission needs to submit to the European Parliament regular reports, annual legislative programmes and reports on the implementation of the budget. The Council’s nominations for the positions of the President of the European Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy must be confirmed by the European Parliament. Finally, the College of Commissioners must be approved by the European Parliament.
- The Presidency of the Council needs to report to the EP on its priorities and progress.
- The Parliament monitors the work of the Council of Ministers.
Appointments. The European Parliament :
- Appoints the President of the Commission, approves the appointment of the Commission and has power to dismiss it.
- Confirms the appointment of the president and vice-president of the European Central Bank.
- Appoints the European Ombudsman.
- Consults on the appointments of the Court of Auditors.
(McCormick, 2011 B, p.217)