EP after the Lisbon treaty: Bigger role in shaping Europe 

The Lisbon treaty, which came in force in late 2009, brought new law-making powers to the European Parliament and put it on an equal footing with the Council of Ministers in deciding what the EU does and how money is spent. It also changed the way the Parliament works with other institutions and gave MEPs more influence on who runs the EU. All these reforms ensured that by casting your vote in the European elections, you get to have an even greater say on where Europe is heading.

European Parliament:New powers

Bigger role for the


    According to the treaty changes, the Parliament elects the head of the Commission, the EU's executive body

  •   Following the treaty, Parliament and the Council have the   .

The Lisbon Treaty increased the powers of the European Parliament :


    The Lisbon Treaty extended Parliament's legislative powers to more than 40 new fields and made it a lawmaker at the same level as the Council

    Previous areas of codecision:

    • Environment
    • Transport
    • Internal market
    • Jobs and social policy
    • Education
    • Public health
    • Consumer protection

    Additional areas due to the Lisbon Treaty

    • Agriculture and fisheries
    • Support for poorer regions
    • Security and justice
    • Commercial policy
    • Cooperation with countries outside the EU
    • Implementing acts

    International agreements - right to approve/reject


    Parliament decides on the full budget, rather than on non-compulsory expenditure only


    A new form of participatory democracy. Parliament sought to facilitate the procedures and committed itself to holding hearing for initiatives that have collected the required signatures

More powers

The Lisbon treaty increased the ability of the EU and its Parliament to act and deliver. It extended Parliament’s full legislative power to more than 40 new fields, including agriculture, energy security, immigration, justice and EU funds, and put it on an equal footing with the Council that represents member states’ governments. Parliament also gained the power to approve the entire EU budget together with the Council.

MEPs were given the right to strike down international agreements and did not hesitate to use this to stop the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) that many feared would stifle fundamental freedoms. This episode proved that as a result of the boost in powers, decisions taken by MEPs have an even stronger impact on the everyday life of Europeans.

Bigger role

The Lisbon treaty not only gave the Parliament the same law-making powers as the Council, but also granted it the clout to set Europe’s political direction. According to the treaty changes, it is the Parliament that elects the head of the Commission, the executive body of the EU, and this decision must reflect the results of the European elections and, therefore, the voters’ choice.

Stronger voice for citizens

As the only EU institution directly elected by citizens, the Parliament has the powers and responsibility to hold the EU institutions accountable. The Parliament is the guardian of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, embedded in the Lisbon Treaty, as well as the newly established right of the citizens’ initiative, which allows people to ask for new policy proposals if one million people have signed a petition asking for it.