MEPs cast their vote during a plenary sitting 

Starting out as a consultative body, the European Parliament now has a say on nearly all EU legislation, but how much do you really know about the only directly-elected EU institution? Read on to find out the essentials about the world's largest international parliament.

1) The European Parliament is a co-legislator: together with EU governments it decides on proposals that become EU law.

2) The Parliament decides together with EU governments about the EU budget and exercises democratic oversight about how the money is spent

3) It meets and consults regularly with the national parliaments in the member states.

4) The transparency register for lobbyists, which the Parliament has always pushed for, makes clear who is trying to influence European decision-making.

5) Every five years, MEPs are directly elected by EU citizens.

6) MEPs sit in political groups and not according to nationality.

7) MEPs consistently champion democracy and human rights worldwide, for example by awarding the Sakharov Prize every year and by taking part in election observation missions.

8) The Parliament works in all of the EU's 24 official languages, so that everyone can more easily follow how their representatives take decisions.

For more about the  Parliament, visit our website, Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts.