This chapter examines the European Parliament. It does so by analysing the EP’s powers and influence, EP elections, political parties and the EP, the composition of the EP, the organisation and operation of the EP, and concludes with some thought on whether the EP is a ‘proper’ parliament. For long after it was first constituted as the Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community, the European Parliament – the title it adopted for itself in 1962 – was generally regarded as a somewhat ineffectual institution. This reputation is no longer justified, for whilst it is true that the EP’s formal powers are not quite as strong as those of national legislatures, developments over the years have come to give it considerable powers and influence in the EU system. As with national parliaments this influence is exercised in three main ways: through the legislative process, through the budgetary process, and through control and supervision of the executive.
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