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The European Parliament (EP) has the right to approve and dismiss the European Commission as a whole. Before they can be appointed, candidate commissioners, known as Commissioner-designates, must appear at a public hearing in the EP where members in the relevant committees scrutinise their expertise on their potential portfolios.
Political groups in the European Parliament also approve the Commission President who is appointed by national leaders and guides the executive branch of the EU. The European Council, taking into account the results of the election of Parliament and acting by qualified majority, puts forward a nominee for Commission president, to be confirmed by a majority vote of Parliament.
The EP also has democratic control over the Commission, which regularly submits reports to the EP, including an annual report on EU activities and the implementation of the EU budget.
In addition, our members and members of other political groups regularly ask the Commission to come forward with legislative proposals.
The European Parliament co-legislates, in the vast majority of areas, on an equal footing with the Council of the European Union. Parliamentarians regularly meet representatives of the Council around the negotiating table for trilogues with the Commission. Each institution puts forward a negotiator and defines its own mandate.
As the largest political group in the EP, we are more likely than any other to lead the negotiations and in the strongest position for influencing the EP’s mandate in any trilogue negotiations.
The European Council defines the general political direction and priorities of the European Union. It brings together Heads of State or Government, the European Commission President and the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy. They usually meet quarterly and generally decide issues by consensus.
MEPs in European Parliament plenary sessions also frequently debate the subjects discussed at meetings of the European Council. Here our Group, because of its size, is in a stronger position than any other EP group for setting the political agenda and ensuring EP legislative priorities are aligned with our own. The European Parliament regularly invites Heads of State and Government from the European Council to key debates with MEPs in plenary.
The European Court of Justice is responsible for interpreting EU law and ensuring it is applied consistently across all Member States. The European Parliament can be both the plaintiff and the defendant for cases brought before the Court. It can even take the Commission or the Council to court if it believes they have acted in a way that is contrary to the spirit of EU law.
Parliament, together with the Council, can ask the Court of Justice to set up specialised courts.
The Court of Auditors prepares an annual assessment of the EU budget for the past year and presents it to the European Parliament and the Council.
The EP Budgetary Control Committee has the final say on the discharge of the budget: Parliament evaluates how EU money was spent and can make specific demands for future corrective action. The Commission and the other institutions must react to any criticisms the EP makes.
One Member from each EU Member State sits on the Court of Auditors, and the EP must be consulted before they are appointed. As the largest group within the EP, the EPP Group has a greater influence than any other parliamentary group on these appointments.
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