Wednesday 4 June 2008

The European Parliament

Today I am in Brussels, visiting the European Parliament. While the institutions of the European Union are outside the remit of this blog, perhaps a little background may be useful in understanding an important influence on British law and politics.

The European Parliament is directly elected. In Britain, MEPs are elected from each region, where parties put forward a list. I'll be on the Labour Party list for the East Midlands in 2009.

European Law is binding on all members states. The two major forms of legislation are Regulations and Directives. Both are proposed by the Commission, and must be approved by both the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament. (Note: there are a number of legislative procedures - the applicable one for any measure depends upon the Treaty Article which is the authority for the legislation. I have described the most important procedure - but others might apply). Regulations become part of national law without the need for further implementation by Member States, while directives are binding as to the result to be achieved
but the means of implementation are up to the individual states.

The Parliament has increased its importance over time. It is the only institution directly elected by the people of Europe. The website can be found at