Powers of the European Parliament

The UK Telegraph summed it up succinctly when it stated. “The paradox of yesterday’s events is that they are a great victory for the European parliament but not for democracy.”2 There can be little doubt that the powers of the European parliament are expanding. When the EC Treaty was first implemented, the EU was visualized as more of a regulatory body that would serve to merely coordinate its various member States, rather than that of ascribing to the European parliament a power that is gradually growing to be on par with that enjoyed by the Parliaments of individual Member States. The principle of subsidiarity that formed the basis of the Constitution of the European Union has gradually given way through precedents established in cases such as that of Van Gend3 and Francovich4, there are no areas that may be designated as off-limits to the EC and exclusive to the Member States5. Moreover, while the European Commission was intended to be the only body responsible for introducing European legislation, its subordination in ultra vires issues to the ECJ and the European parliament raises the ultimate question of who is the ultimate power in law-making? The growing power of the European parliament over the years has ensured that it can no more be dismissed merely as a “talking shop’.Article 192 of the EC Treaty lays out the powers of the European Parliament to request the Commission to submit any proposals that may be considered as Community Acts. However, the power to introduce new legislation in the form of EU regulations is the province of the European Commission. Through the law-making principle of co-decision, the Commission is to propose and the Council is to decide upon a procedure that is to be implemented.6 Thereby the EU Parliament is permitted to propose amendments and also to veto the proposed laws.