The European Parliament (EP)
Institutes: "What we all know?", What is the European Parliament in fact?
The EP and the Confidence
The highest level of confidence index in connection with the EU and its Institutes was measured in Hungary. But do we know which these are, what they are doing and how they work? According to a Euro barometer survey the leaders on the list are the EU and UNO among the institutes and organizations which the Hungarians trust in. Similarly to the above results, approximately half of the population trusts them. Only 10 per cent of Hungarians trust in their own national political parties. This is the reason why the majority of Hungarians think that more decisions should be taken at the level of the EU.
A significant proportion of EU citizens (89 %) are aware of the existence of the European Parliament. Somewhat fewer people (78 %) have heard about the European Committee. Less than half of the EU people (48 %) trust in the European Parliament and even less (44 %) trust in the European Union. (Slovakia and Belgium have the highest rate and the United Kingdom has the lowest rate.) The level of confidence in certain institutes, also in Hungary, lags behind their familiarity. Half of the people asked in Hungary (50 %) trust in the European Committee and the level of confidence in the European Parliament is a bit higher (57 %).
|European Parliament||Hungary||EU 27|
|heard about||91 %||89 %|
|trust||57 %||48 %|
Brief history of the European Parliament
- 1952: Consultative rights, with yearly discussions over the reports of the high authority, a two thirds majority could require the resignation of the high authority
- 1957: Interpellation rights; it can discuss any subject, but only in 12 subjects was it compulsory to turn to the EP for its opinion
- 1962: Official name change
- 1970-1975: Budget agreements (own resources, and can be refused by two third)
- 1979: First election
- 1980: Isoglucose case. The Council can decide only after listening to the EP (Consultative procedure), "Legislation right"
- 80's: Single European Act, Single European Document, Contribution procedure
- Cooperation procedure (If the Parliament refuses the Council's first draft proposals, the Council can only vote unanimously.)
- The real breakthrough: Maastricht: Co-decision - presentation of decision making, Parliament's consent to assign the commissioners, Ombudsman
- Amsterdam: Terms of co-decision
- Nizza: The EP is enhanced in some details but not yet a breakthrough
- Lisbon: The EP's role in making decisions and the budget increases: "normal decision making procedure is achieved in 40 new political spheres.
Beyond this: consent and consultation
The difference between compulsory and non-compulsory expenses ceases
Budget draft proposal: the EP'S consent is needed
To elect the Chairman of Committee: consent of the majority of the members is necessary
Max. 751 EP Members: max 96 min 6
The parliament has smaller entitlements than the parliaments of the nations but it has its attributes: it has legislative, controlling and budgetary functions.
- Legislation: in the first pillar it is made without limitation, and in the fields of external relation, police matters and jurisdiction it is restricted: the EP is involved in two thirds of the decisions. It is reasonable to examine its influence by area.
- Control: appointment of the EU Commission
- Budget: signed by the president of the EP
Institutional reform is inevitable. In the long run the EP can be equal with the Council, and can further on stay a co-legislative organ, which means, it will not undertake the roles of the national parliaments but will complete and strengthen them.
- Political Groups:
The Members participate in the sessions in political groups instead of sitting by nations. This does not prevent them from voting according to their national interests occasionally.
At present 7 political groups work in the European Parliament.
- Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats)
- Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats in the European Parliament
- Group of Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
- Group of the Greens / European Free Alliance in the European Parliament
- European Conservatives and Reformists Group
- Confederal Group of the European United Left - Nordic Green Left
- Europe of Freedom and Democracy Group
All the parliamentary groups work as an internal organization, by appointing a chairman, (a few of the groups two co-chairs), a bureau and a secretariat.
In the Chamber the seats are distributed on the basis of political affiliation starting from left to right with the consent of the Group Chairmen.
To establish a parliamentary group, 25 Members are needed who have to represent at least one quarter of the member states. Members may not belong to more than one Political Group!
There are Members who do not belong to any Political Groups, they are the non-attached Members. Prior to every vote of the plenary assembly the political groups examine the reports submitted by the parliamentary committees and present their modified proposals.
The agreement to be made by the Group is concluded by internal consensus in the Group; none of the Group Members are obliged to vote.
The culture of debates differs from that of the national parliaments: compromise - a co-deciding factor for the associate Members.
- Schedule: The Parliament works in accordance with the plenary calendar Plenary week (September: 2, August: none!) Mini-plenary and extraordinary plenary assembly are held in Brussels Fraction week Committee week: 20 permanent Committees
- The number of the Committees' Members amounts to 24-76. Each Committee has a chairman, a bureau and a secretariat. The political make-up of the committees reflects that of the plenary assembly.
- The Parliamentary Committees have their sessions once or twice a month in Brussels; the sessions are held in public. The Committees draw up, amend and adopt legislative proposals and own-initiative reports. They consider Commission and Council proposals and, where necessary, draw up reports to be presented to the plenary assembly. Finally the European Parliament can also set up sub-committees and special temporary committees to deal with specific issues, and is empowered to create formal committees of inquiry under its supervisory remit to investigate allegations of maladministration of EU law.
The Committee Chairmen co-ordinate the work of the Committees in the Conference of Committee Chairs.
- The President - represents the European Parliament vis-a-vis the outside world and in its relations with the other Community institutions and also oversees all the work of the Parliament and its constituent bodies (Bureau and Conference of Presidents), as well as the debates in the plenary.
- The Conference of Presidents organises practical aspects of Parliament's work and decides on all questions relating to legislative planning, including the timetable and agenda for plenary sittings the composition of the committees and delegations, and their remits and legislative programming.
- The Bureau is made up of the President of the European Parliament, the 14 Vice-Presidents and the five Quaestors, with observer status, elected by the assembly for a renewable period of two and a half years. It guides Parliament's internal functioning, including the European Parliament's budget estimates, administrative and financial organisation the secretariat and its sub-departments.
- The Quaestors are responsible, under the Bureau's instructions, for administrative and financial matters of direct concern to Members. The five Quaestors sit on the Bureau in an advisory capacity. They ensure that Members have the infrastructure necessary to exercise their mandate.
The European Parliament is assisted by a Secretariat.
Some 4 600 officials, recruited by open competition from all the countries of the Union and placed under the authority of a Secretary-General, work for the European Parliament. The political groups have their own staff and the Members have parliamentary assistants. The European Parliament is distinguished from other international organisations by its obligation to offer full multilingualism.
Parliament works in all the official languages of the European Union - 23 since Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU and Irish was recognised as official language of the EU in 2007. All documents dealt with in plenary must be translated into 22 of these languages. A partial exception currently applies to the Irish language - only legislative documents have to be translated into it.
The European Parliament also provides an interpretation service, so that every Member is able to speak in his/her mother tongue.
This makes the European Parliament the world's largest employer of interpreters and translators, who account for one third of the institution's staff.
The Secretariat is located in Luxembourg and Brussels.