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The European Parliament

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The European Parliament is the only directly-elected EU body and one of the largest democratic assemblies in the world. Its 751 Members are there to represent the EU's 500 million citizens.

European Parliament photoThe 751 (previously 766) Members of the European Parliament are elected once every five years by voters right across the 28 Member States of the European Union.

The MEPs represent the second largest democratic electorate in the world (after the Parliament of India) and the largest trans-national democratic electorate in the world (375 million eligible voters in 2009).

Parliament plays an active role in drafting legislation which has an impact on the daily lives of its citizens: For example, on environmental protection, consumer rights, equal opportunities, transport, and the free movement of workers, capital, services and goods. Parliament also has joint power with the Council over the annual budget of the European Union.

Parliamentary committees

There are 20 parliamentary committees

A committee consists of between 24 and 76 MEPs, and has a chair, a bureau and a secretariat

The political make-up of the committees reflects that of the plenary assembly.

The parliamentary committees meet once or twice a month in Brussels

Their debates 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.

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 chairs coordinate the work of the committees in the Conference of Committee Chairs.



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