Every five years EU citizens get the chance to vote for politicians, called MEPs, to represent their interests in the European Parliament.
The main jobs of the European Parliament are to pass laws and to approve the EU budget, responsibilities it shares with the European Council.
The Parliament takes part in EU legislative planning, and can ask for new issues to be placed on the EU agenda.
The parliament plays a decisive role in the appointment of the President of the European Commission and of the Commission as a whole. It has the power to fire the entire Commission if its not happy with its performance.
The parliament also elects the EU Ombudsman and has a role in choosing the members of the European Central Bank, the European Court of Auditors and the Directors and certain members of the Management Boards of many EU agencies.
The European Parliament has 736 MEPs from all member states. Ireland currently has 12 MEPs representing four constituencies: Dublin; East; South; and North West.
Like TDs, MEPs represent their constituencies and will provide assistance to citizens and groups who want to influence EU policy and legislation.
MEPs sit in political groups at the Parliament. There are seven groups which are not organised by nationality, but by political affiliation.
The groups represent a wide spectrum of political views and just like TDs in our own Dáil Éireann, some MEPs are independent and are known as non-attached members.
The European Parliament is led by a President who is elected for a two and half year term of office. Most of the Parliament’s work is prepared in its 20 standing Parliamentary Committees.
MEPs are generally full members of at least one Committee and may be substitute members on at least one more. Unlike many national parliaments, Committee meetings are normally held in public.
World leaders often address the European Parliament and over the years it has become a focus for presenting the internal and external activities of the Union to a global audience.
That means MEPs and citizens they represent can be involved in marking out their political vision for Europe to the rest of the world.
The European Parliament Information Office in Ireland provides information on the European Parliament's role and powers, on the Irish MEPs and their activities and on issues currently being considered by the Parliament.
- To connect with The European Parliament contact your local member of the European Parliament (MEP)
- Contact the Irish European Parliament office in Dublin for more information on the Parliament’s work
- Learn more about the role of MEPs here
- Find out the benefits of being an Expert Source for politicians here
- See how your right to petition the European Parliament can help your organisation here
- Find out how Parliamentary Committees can work in your favour here