European parliamentary elections will decisively influence the future of the EU. But how much power do MEPs really have - and how do their decisions affect the daily lives of EU citizens?

Who sits in the EU Parliament?

Approximately 400 million voters in 28 member states (including the UK) will directly elect 751 MEPs.

The European Parliament is thus the only directly elected transnational representative body in the world. 

The number of seats a country is entitled to is proportionate to its population, however, smaller countries have an advantage in that each member state must have at least six members. Germany has the highest representation with 96 MEPs.

More than 200 national parties were represented in the last Parliament between 2014 and 2019.

Parliamentarians exercise their mandate freely, but most are bound by a parliamentary group. In the last parliament there were eight parliamentary groups (and one group of independents). These range from the far-right to the hard left. 

To form a group, 25 MEPs from at least seven member states must band together.

The two largest groups are the Christian democratic European People’s Party (EPP) and the Party of European Socialists (PES). 

What powers does the European Parliament have?

The power of the European Parliament has grown considerably since it was founded in 1979. 

Together with the Council of the European Union it decides on new regulations and laws proposed by the EU Commission. Examples of such laws include environmental and consumer protection policies, as well as energy and agricultural policy.

The right to determine foreign policy, tax rates and structures, security policy, etc, are the responsibility of individual member states.

MEPs do not have the right to initiate legislation. They can, however, ask the Commission to draft laws on specific topics. 

The EU budget, which is also drawn up by the Commission, requires the approval of the European Parliament. MEPs also monitor the use of such funds.

If new countries join the Union or the EU concludes international agreements, the European Parliament must give its assent.

The power of the European Parliament has grown considerably since it was founded in 1979. 

Together with the Council of the European Union it decides on new regulations and laws proposed by the EU Commission. Examples of such laws include environmental and consumer protection policies, as well as energy and agricultural policy.

The right to determine foreign policy, tax rates and structures, security policy, etc, are the responsibility of individual member states.

MEPs do not have the right to initiate legislation. They can, however, ask the Commission to draft laws on specific topics. 

The EU budget, which is also drawn up by the Commission, requires the approval of the European Parliament. MEPs also monitor the use of such funds.

If new countries join the Union or the EU concludes international agreements, the European Parliament must give its assent.

How is the European Commission elected?

The European Parliament approves the appointment of the president of the European Commission. The Lisbon Treaty (2009) also requires that members of the European Council nominate one member of the Commission and take into account the outcome of parliamentary elections when appointing that member.

How does the European Parliament affect the everyday life of EU citizens?

In the past five years, almost 350 legislative proposals were passed in the European Parliament.

The body has also passed numerous resolutions, including, for example, against arms exports to Saudi Arabia

Although these resolutions do not have an effect in practice, they can have a highly symbolic effect.

Source: TRT World