Elected every five years by direct universal suffrage, the European Parliament is the expression of the democratic will of the Union's citizens. Its 626 members are affiliated to transnational political groups which represent the main political tendencies in the Member States.
The Parliament has three key functions:
Exercising democratic supervision over the Commission. It approves the nomination of Commissioners and has the right to censure the Commission. It also exercises political supervision over all the institutions.
Sharing legislative power with the Council. Together with the Council, the Parliament formulates and adopts legislation proposed by the Commission. The two institutions are on an equal footing. In case of disagreement, a conciliation committee is convened to seek a compromise. The Parliament’s approval is also required for certain political or institutional issues, such as the accession of new Member States.
Playing a decisive role in the adoption of the annual Community budget. The Parliament shares budgetary authority with the Council and can therefore influence EU spending. Parliament's Committee on Budgetary Control monitors the implementation of the budget, and each year Parliament grants a discharge to the Commission with regard to the implementation of the budget for the previous financial year.
Website of the European Parliament