The European Parliament (EP) was founded in 1952 as the Common Assembly of, at that time, the European Coal and Steel Community. The new name of the Parliament was adopted in 1962. Nowadays the Members of the European Parliament are elected directly for the period of five years. During the last elections held in 2009 736 Members from 27 member states were elected. The number of MEPs per Member states refers to the Member states’ citizens presenting in the total number of EU citizens community.
The EP, as every other democratic parliament, has foremost Legislative, Budgetary and Supervisory roles. MEPs are responsible for the legislative role of the European Union through the adaption and modification of the European laws. They adapt the EU budget and supervise its expenditure. Two additional roles are characteristic for the European Parliament – the Relations with national parliaments, through regular joint to the parliamentary assembly work, and the role of the defender of the Human rights and democracy, as the fundamental right in the EU. The EP elects also the President of the European Commission.
The tasks of MEPS
It is important to understand that the MEPs represent their political affiliations and not their national interests. In that sense are the MEPs in the period 2009/2014 organized into 7 political groups and 20 parliamentary committees. Each Parliamentary committee consists of between 24 and 76 MEPs. The work of MEPS is, due to the complicity of their responsibilities, divided between Parliaments in Strasburg, where the plenary sessions take place, Brussels, where they attend meetings of the parliamentary committees and political groups, and additional plenary sessions and their own constituencies.
Difference between EU, EP and EC
While the role of the EU is at the first place of legislative nature, the role of the European Commission (EC) is executive. The main roles of the Commission are to define objectives and priorities for further EU development, to propose legislation to Parliament and Council, to manage and implement the EU budget policies and, together with the Court of Justice, to enforce the European Law and to represent the EU as a one entity outside Europe. The EC fulfills these duties by promoting the EU general interest, by being a part of a decision-making process, by supervising the implementation of the Treaties and European law and by managing the common policies and funds. The EC team is represented by 27 Commissioners – the EC President and 26 more Commissioners. One representative per Member State country is elected for the period of five years. Their work is supported by 23.000 staff members in directorates-general (DGs) or services and divided between its headquarters in Brussels, offices in Luxembourg and the Delegations of the EC.
Img.: Ingo Bartussek – Fotolia