What does the EPP Group do for you?
How do Members of the European Parliament represent voters in what is a very complicated political environment? They navigate a maze of procedures and negotiate with their colleagues of different political orientation as well as with counterparts in the Council and Commission on laws that fall into the remit of EP competence to the benefit of 500 million people living in the EU. Watch the video above to see what that means in practice.
How laws get passed
The best way to illustrate how laws get passed is to see what happens to a single piece of legislation once it comes to the European Parliament. The legislative draft is first assigned to a Committee. The Committee designates a rapporteur, or responsible person, for that draft among its Members. The rapporteur then becomes the lead negotiator of the European Parliament on that file. In the case of the ordinary legislative procedure, a legislative draft, in order to become law, must be adopted by the responsible Committee, then by the plenary of the European Parliament, and by representatives of Member States in the Council. Once the adopted legislative Resolution is signed by the President of the European Parliament and published in the Official Journal of the EU, it becomes law.
Since the entry-into-force of the Lisbon Treaty, the ordinary legislative procedure, formerly co-decision, has become the standard legislative procedure. In this case, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU are on an equal footing when it comes to legislating. They both have the power to amend legislative proposals, and they both have to agree on a proposal before it can be enacted.
Other important legislative procedures are the consultation procedure, where the Parliament must be consulted on a legislative proposal but its opinion is not binding on the Council as the sole legislator in this case, and the consent procedure, where the Parliament has the right of veto and its role is to approve or reject the legislative proposal.
The European Commission is the only Institution empowered to initiate legislation. The Parliament also has right of initiative that allows it to ask the Commission to submit a legislative proposal.
MEPs per Political Group
Members of the European Parliament are organised into political Groups according to their political affiliation. Of the 7 Groups that exist in this legislative term of the European Parliament, the EPP Group is the biggest with its Members coming from 27 Member States of the European Union. Our size allows us to wield considerable influence on Parliament's decision-making and our Members hold leadership positions in many of the Parliament's Committees and Delegations.
Parliament's powers have increased exponentially since the Treaty of Rome was signed in 1957 - even more so following the entry-into-force of the Lisbon Treaty in December 2009. The Parliament legislates, controls the EU budget and supervises the European Commission and its activities.
The Parliament shares legislative power equally with the Council of the EU, and depending on the legislative area and type of procedure, can amend, advise on, accept or reject a legislative proposal. Most of the legislative work is carried out in Parliament's Committees, while political Groups negotiate between each other on the content of the proposal before the EP view is brought to the Council.
As one of the budgetary arms of the EU, the other being the Council, the Parliament decides each year on the EU's revenue and expenditure, on the proposal of the European Commission who submits a draft budget. The annual EU budget must stay coherent with the spending limits set by the Multiannual Financial Framework. Since the Lisbon Treaty, this medium-term spending plan which is agreed among Member States needs to be approved by the European Parliament. This means that the EP's views need to be taken into account very early on in the negotiations. The Parliament also monitors spending through its Committee on Budgetary Control and can grant or withhold discharge to EU Institutions.
The European Parliament has the right to approve and dismiss the European Commission. Commissioner-designates must appear at public hearings in the EP where their expertise on their potential portfolios is scrutinised. Under the Lisbon Treaty, the European Council, acting by a qualified majority, proposes a candidate for the Commission President, taking into account the results of the European elections. In 2009, the EPP was the only political family to present a common candidate, José Manuel Barroso, who was confirmed for his second term of office after the sweeping victory of the EPP at the European elections. The EP can censure the Commission and dismiss it. The Commission submits an annual report of its activities to the European Parliament as well as information on the implementation of the budget.