What are the European Parliament’s powers and legislative procedures?
The Parliament is co-legislator, it has the power to adopt and amend legislation and it decides on the annual EU budget on an equal footing with the Council. It supervises the work of the Commission and other EU bodies and cooperates with national parliaments of EU countries to get their input.
The vast majority of EU legislation is passed through the ordinary legislative procedure, also known as “co-decision”. This is the procedure which is mostly used and gives equal weight to the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union. It applies to a wide range of areas such as immigration, energy, transport, climate change, the environment, consumer protection and economic governance.
There are a few areas in which other decision-making procedures are used. In areas such as taxation, competition law and Common Foreign and Security Policy, the European Parliament is “consulted”. In those cases, Parliament may approve or reject a legislative proposal, or propose amendments to it, but the Council is not legally obliged to follow Parliament's opinion, although it does need to wait for it before taking a decision. The “consent” procedure, when Parliament’s approval is required, applies to the accession of new EU member states and international trade agreements between the EU and third countries or groups of countries. The consent procedure is also used in the final decision on the appointment of the European Commission.
Although it is up to the Commission to propose new EU laws, Parliament can take the initiative by requesting the Commission to submit a legislative proposal. When adopting such a "legislative initiative", MEPs may set a deadline for the submission of a proposal. If the Commission refuses, it must explain why.
When adopting a new law, MEPs and Council can task the Commission to complement the law with minor additions or changes (like technical annexes or updates) through delegated acts (acts which supplement or amend parts of the law) or implementing acts (acts giving details on how to implement the law). In this way, legislation can remain simple and, if needed, be supplemented and updated without new negotiations at legislative level.
Depending of the kind of act adopted by the Commission, MEPs have different options if they disagree with the measures proposed by the commission. MEPs have a veto right for delegated acts. For implementing acts MEPs can ask the Commission to amend or withdraw it, but the Commission has no legal obligation to do this.