European Parliament in Brussels

The European Parliament is the chosen body that represents the European Union’s nationals. It workouts political supervision over the European Union’s activities and takes part in the legislative process. Since 1979, (MEPs) members of the European Parliament have been directly chosen, by universal suffrage, every 5 years. The European Parliament usually holds its comprehensive sessions in Strasbourg and any extra sessions in Brussels. It has twenty committees which do the preparatory work for plenary sessions, and a number of political groups that normally fit in Brussels. The General Secretariat is located in Luxembourg and Brussels.

The Parliament takes part in the legislative work of the EU at three levels: •    “Under the ‘cooperation’ procedure , introduced by the Single European Act in 1987, the European Parliament can give its opinion on draft directives and regulations proposed by the European Commission, which is asked to amend its proposals to take account of Parliament’s position. •    Since 1987, there has also been the ‘assent’ procedure , under which the European Parliament must give its assent to international agreements negotiated by the Commission and to any proposed enlargement of the European Union.

The 1992 Treaty of Maastricht introduced the ‘co-decision’ procedure , which puts the Parliament on an equal footing with the Council when legislating on a whole series of important issues including the free movement of workers, the internal market, education, research, the environment, trans-European networks, health, culture, consumer protection, etc. The European Parliament has the power to throw out proposed legislation in these fields if an absolute majority of members of Parliament vote against the Council’s ‘common position’.

The Treaty has made provision for a conciliation procedure”. (The EU at a glance – Europe in 12 lessons – How does the EU work? ) The European Parliament also contributions, with the Council, equal obligations for adopting the European Union budget. The Parliament can refuse the suggested budget, and it has already done so on various occasions. When this occurs, the whole budget procedure has to be re-initiated. The European Commission suggests the draft budget, which is then argued by the Council and the European Parliament.

Parliament has made full function of its budgetary powers to influence EU policymaking. Most importantly, the (EP) European Parliament exercises democratic powers over the Union. It has the authorities to discharge the Commission by adopting a motion of censure. Nevertheless, this needs a two-thirds majority. It also monitors the day-to-day management of European Union policies by placing verbal and written questions to the Commission and the Council. At last, European Council’s president reports to the Parliament on the decisions accepted by the Council.

European Commission Commission is the third part of the institutional triangle that supervises and functions the European Union. The Commission is responsible to the Parliament, and the whole Commission has to resign if the parliament authorizes a motion of censure against it. Since 2004, the Commission has been made up of one Commissioner from each member nations. “The Commission enjoys a substantial degree of independence in exercising its powers. Its job is to uphold the common interest, which means that it must not take instructions from any national EU government.

As ‘Guardian of the Treaties’, it has to ensure that the regulations and directives adopted by the Council and Parliament are being implemented in the member states. If they are not, the Commission can take the offending party to the Court of Justice to oblige it to comply with EU law. As the EU’s executive arm, the Commission implements the decisions taken by the Council in areas such as the common agricultural policy. It has wide powers to manage the EU’s common policies, such as research and technology, overseas aid, regional development, etc.

It also manages the budget for these policies. The Commission is assisted by a civil service made up of 36 directorates-general (DGs) and services, which are mainly based in Brussels and Luxembourg”. (Europe in 12 Lessons – Why the European Union? ) Other Bodies Court of Justice As the name indicates this body based at Luxembourg, guarantees the enforcement of law and fair judicial system in the member countries of the EU. Judges are chosen for a term of 6 years by the governments of the member countries. The additional 8 advocates assist the judges to exercise the laws. Court of Auditors

This court ensures the proper use of the revenue, and budget of the Union. Regular audits are conducted as to avoid any crisis in the monetary matters. One member from each nation is chosen for 6 years period with the consultation of the governments of the member nations and the European Parliament. The Court of Auditors was founded in the year 1975 and its headquarter is at Luxembourg. European Investment Bank (EIB) This institution is basically formed to help the under privileged countries of the EU. For this purpose Investment Bank provide loans and grants to the EU members.

European Central Bank (ECB) The primary aim of the EIB is to promote Euro (EU currency) and to keep a watch o the monetary policy. ECB is based at Frankfurt. European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) The EESC is consulted by the decision making bodies for different issues. The members are appointed by the Council for a term of four years. Committee of Regions (CoR) The committee is consulted by the Council and the Commission on the issues regarding regional matters. The members include regional representatives of the member states appointed for a term of four years. Working

The decade of 1970’s were very happening for the EU. The number of the member nations widens to nine as Denmark, Ireland and the UK joined the European Union in January, 1973. The famous Arab-Israeli War let the European nations with the energy and economic crisis. The regimes of the two dictators General Franco of Spain and Salazar of Portugal came to an end. Various policies of the EU were transformed like the regional policy. The change in the regional policy opened up the door of jobs and employment in the whole of Europe. In 1979 the right for voting the members was given to the citizens for the first time.

In the 1980s Greece, Portugal and Spain also became the members of the EU. In 1987 the “Single European Act” was signed. This treaty created the Single Market in Europe, allowing the free- flow of the trade across the borders. A major political achievement of the Union was the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989. This fall provided a ground for the reunification of both the Germanys in October 1990. The communism was collapsed in the USSR and this collapse proved to be very useful for the Europe. Differences between the eastern, central and western Europe were settled to some extent.

The free movement of goods, services, people and money helped to add the final essence to the Single Market and now the Single Market is one of the biggest achievements of the EU. In the period of 1990s two more treaties were signed, ‘Maastricht’ Treaty on European Union in 1993 and the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1999. In the year 1995, Finland, Austria, and Sweden also joined EU. The communication between the EU states was made easier and the agreements allowed the citizens of EU to travel without having their passports checked at the borders. (EUROPA – The EU at a glance – The History of the European Union)

With the start of the 2000, EU adopted the new currency Euro. Initially this decision was criticized very much and even some of the EU members ere apprehensive but with the passage of time Euro proved to be a profitable business. EU nations begin to work much more strongly together to fight crime. In 2004 ten more countries joined the EU and the political divisions between the west and west Europe were finally bridged. With the communication made easier there has been a rise in international crimes like human trafficking, illegal immigration, trade in stolen vehicles, pornography, terrorism, money-laundering, money counterfeiting etcetera.

But the EU nations have joined hands to fight against such crimes. They have formed a fund for the refugees with an annual budget of 114 Euros. SIS has been formed as to help the EU countries for the fast and easy transfer of information about the crimes and the criminals. Europol is another body constituted to fight against international crimes. It consists of the police and the custom officers. Similarly Eurojust is also such sort of an institution. It serves as a channel to conduct investigation and judicial trials for several EU states. Conclusion But the steps taken by the EU members are not enough.

They need to work on a common Judicial and Criminal policy to fight the crimes because the crimes is not as bloody and ugly as it was used to be in the 1970s, the techniques of committing the crimes are getting sophisticated and smarter with every passing day. There is also a ned to consider the immigration laws because the illegal and even the legal immigrants are promoting terrorism and they are regarded as the carriers of crime.

References

EUROPA – The EU at a glance – The History of the European Union http://europa. eu/abc/history/index_en. htm Accessed, June 25, 2007