With the Commission
The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, has the right of initiative which means that in the institutional set-up of the European Union, the Commission is the one that proposes legislation. The Parliament, as the EU's co-legislator and the Institution representing the people, is in charge of moulding those proposals into law. Although not directly involved in the decision-making, the Commission sits at the negotiating table when Parliamentarians and Council representatives discuss the crucial points of legislative proposals.
The Commission proposes the draft annual EU budget, which serves as a basis for negotiations between the European Parliament and the Member States. The European Commission is accountable to the people's representatives. Commissioners are invited to speak before the plenary on current issues that fall under the remit of their competences. They have a duty to answer parliamentary questions, whether written or oral.
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. 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.
The Parliament also monitors Commission spending through its Committee on Budgetary Control and can grant or withhold discharge of its accounts. Discharge powers of the Parliament apply to all EU Institutions.
With the Council
The European Parliament co-legislates on an equal footing with the Council of the European Union. To this end, Parliamentarians regularly meet representatives of the Council around the negotiating table.
In all but one of its ten configurations, the Council of the EU is chaired by the Presidency-in-Office that rotates every six months. The Head of State or Government of the Presidency-in-Office or a member of the Government appears before the European Parliament plenary at the start of the Presidency to explain the Council's priorities for the next six months, and at its close, to reflect on its performance. Relevant Government Ministers are invited to speak at Hearings in all Committees to repeat the exercise but pertinent to their area of competence.
Council representatives are summoned to speak before the plenary during Question Time. They have a duty to answer parliamentary questions, whether written or oral. The Foreign Affairs Council is permanently chaired by the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Representatives of the Foreign Affairs Council attend plenary debates on foreign, security or defence policy. Twice a year, the High Representative reports to the European Parliament on these policies and their financial implications.
With the European Council
The European Council defines the general political direction and priorities of the European Union. The agreements reached at these meetings of Heads of State or Government are translated into Commission proposals which end up on the desks of Members of the European Parliament and subsequently become law.
The President of the European Parliament has the right to address the Heads of State or Government at the start of each European Council, setting out Parliament's position on the subjects that are to be discussed. After each meeting of the European Council, its President is invited to present a report to Parliament on the outcome. It is not uncommon that subjects discussed at meetings of the European Council are also debated on the floor of the Parliament's plenary.
With the Court of Justice
A case before the European Court of Justice can be brought either by an EU Institution in case of legal disputes with other EU Institutions or EU Member States, or by individuals, companies or organisations if they believe their rights have been infringed by an EU Institution. This means that the European Parliament can be both the plaintiff and the defendant.
The Parliament can take the Commission or the Council to court if it believes they have acted contrary to EU law.
The Parliament and the Council may establish specialised courts to hear and determine at first instance certain classes of action or proceedings brought in specific areas. This provision in the Treaties was used to set up the EU Civil Service Tribunal to rule in disputes between the European Union and its staff.
With the Court of Auditors
An annual assessment of the past year's EU budget is prepared by the Court of Auditors and presented to the European Parliament and the Council. The EP Committee dealing with this assessment is the Budgetary Control Committee and its main tool is the discharge procedure where the Parliament, based on the assessment prepared by the European Court of Auditors, evaluates how EU money was spent. Together with granting or withholding discharge, the Parliament also makes specific demands for future corrective action to be taken where necessary and the Commission and the other Institutions are required to react to the criticisms made. One member from each EU Member State sits on the Court of Auditors and Parliament must be consulted before they are appointed.