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Belgian Disability Forum

European Parliament

 

The Parliament is - together with the representatives of EU governments in the Council of the European Union - responsible for adopting EU legislation.

 

Powers

  • Legislative powers: Together with the representatives of EU governments in the Council, Parliament is responsible for adopting EU legislation. Under the ordinary legislative procedure, both institutions act as equal co-legislators.
  • Supervisory powers: the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) oversee the work of EU institutions, notably the European Commission, which is the executive arm of the European Union.
  • Budgetary powers: Parliament and Council have to agree on the annual EU budget.
 

Composition

The European Parliament is elected by direct universal suffrage. Thanks to the active work of its members, it has been able to secure greater powers and acquire the status of equal partner in codecision with the Council in most areas of EU legislation. Today, the European Parliament has 705 elected members from 27 Member States of the European Union.

Plenary sittings are chaired by the President of the European Parliament. The President of the European Parliament is assisted in this task by the 14 vice-presidents, who can take over the chair. The President opens the sitting, sometimes with a tribute or a speech on a current topic. Parliament is in fact constantly concerned to respond to the latest developments in any major issue and has no hesitation in changing its agenda in order to call on the Union to act. The President’s influence can be decisive in this respect.

Most of the 705 MEPs belong to a political group, of which there are currently 8, representing all ideological tendencies in the EP. Some MEPs are not affiliated to any political group and are thus known as "non-attached" Members. It is the political groups that decide which issues will be discussed in plenary. They can also table amendments to the committee reports to be put to the vote. However, no Member can be obliged by his group to vote in a particular way.

The European Commission and the Council of the European Union take part in the sittings in order to facilitate collaboration between the institutions in the decision-making process.

 

Organisation

MEPs may take on different roles and join various formal or informal groupings in Parliament that have affect its work.

 

Secretariat of the European Parliament

The Secretary-General is responsible for the organisation of parliamentary business under the political leadership of the European Parliament President, the Bureau of the European Parliament and the Conference of Presidents of the European Parliament.  The Secretariat also provides technical and expert assistance to parliamentary bodies and Members of Parliament to support them in the exercise of their mandates. The European Parliament must also provide a fully multilingual service for all plenary sittings and meetings.

The Secretary-General ensures the requisite cooperation and coordination amongst Directorates-General of the European Parliament.