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"The European Parliament remains merely a talking shop". Discuss

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Introduction

"The European Parliament remains merely a talking shop". Discuss (60) The European Parliament, a directly elected institution in the EU, forms part of the colegislative branch of the EU (along with the EU Council). It has three fundamental powers legislative power, budgetary power and supervisory power; its political role within the EU is also growing. The European Parliament has been described as a very powerful legislating body (perhaps one of the most powerful in the world). However its powers are limited to those given to them by the member states of the European community, and so it has been argued that the European Parliament has no substantial powers and is merely a talking shop. In some ways, this is true. One way in which this can be seen is through the main powers that the European Parliament has - or, in many cases, doesn't have. Before the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, the European Parliament held very few powers, and even these powers were fairly restricted. Since the 1970s, the European Parliament has had power over the EU budget: as well as being able to suggest modifications, it also has the power to reject the budget outright by a 2/3 majority (which it has used in the past, in 1979 and 1984). ...read more.

Middle

Low voter turnout and voter apathy is also another significant factor which shows that the European Parliament lacks validity and authority. There has been low turnout at European Parliament elections across Europe, which is becoming a matter of grave concern. In 2004 the turnout fell to less than 50%, and even pro-European countries such as France and Germany had a low turnout of 43%. This demonstrates that the citizens of the EU do not seem to regard the European Parliament as important, which undermines Parliament's authority and legitimacy. Even newer member states, such as Poland (20%) and Slovakia (16%) who should have been enthusiastic at joining Europe and to whom the concept of Europe is still a novelty, produced disappointing results. In other ways, however, the notion that the European Parliament has no significant powers and is merely a talking shop is preposterous. One area of power which the European Parliament has which demonstrates its power is its legislative powers. The European Parliament adopts European legislation with the Council via codecision-making. Codecision is an essential power of the European Parliament, which enhances its ability to influence European legislation. Currently, codecision applies to areas such as the free movement of workers, the environment, consumer protection, education, health and culture (however, the introduction of the Lisbon Treaty will extend the reach of codecision to every policy area, except for the single currency). ...read more.

Conclusion

All of these examples show that the political role of the European Parliament is now very significant, and its international voice is in fact very influential. In conclusion, it can be seen that, since the 1990s, the powers of the European Parliament have slowly increased, and its significance within the EU has also risen. However, member states are still reluctant to give the European Parliament more powers, as they fear that strengthening these powers would take away the sovereignty of national governments. When comparing the European Parliament to national governments, the European Parliament is relatively weak, as there is no solid executive configuration, and they don't have real power over the council. The democratic deficit has slightly lessened due to the fact that Parliament is elected by the citizens, but the voter apathy and low turnout appears to undermine it. However, the European Parliament does appear to make the most of its powers, and has successfully shown, through the Santer crisis in 1999 and the issue with Rocco Buttiglione, that they are capable of controlling the commission. Nevertheless, it is evident that the European Parliament isn't perhaps as authoritative as it can be: for example, the ability to dismiss individual commissioners would be a far more effective way of holding the commission to account, and would reduce the need to threaten the commission with a motion to censure due to one individual. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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