The European Parliament is the only directly-elected body, representing more than 500 million citizens. It is, in many instances, comparable to the Congress of the United States, itself elected directly by the American people to legislate on a federal level.
As most laws affecting European citizens are initiated in Brussels, the Parliament is called to legislate on consumer affairs, environmental laws, economic and monetary rules, the safety of products, data privacy and a myriad other areas. It also co-decides, together with the Council of Ministers, representing Member State governments about the EU budget and has the power of scrutiny over its implementation. Last but not least, it endorses—and can censor—the European Commission.