According to EU organisation:

The Commission proposes and implements laws which are in keeping with the objectives of the EU treaties.

The members of European Commission are proposed by the Council of European Union based on national government suggestions.

The question which arise is if the only purpose of European Parliament is to review and vote to accept/reject law initiative.

If so, what is the meaning of actually electing the members of the Parliament since they have only a limited role in legislative procedures?

Edit: To clarify the question, I am interested more in the reason why Parliament was not directly granted with legislative initiative

  • We have only one EU directly elected institution and you want to strip that away from us. Also, to review and vote to accept/reject law initiative. is far from being something negligible in my opinion.
    – Alexei
    May 29, 2019 at 19:35

2 Answers 2


This is not entirely accurate. While MEPs cannot propose laws all by themselves... they can request/vote for the Commision to submit a specific proposal.

The Commission has the legislative initiative. However, under the Treaty of Maastricht enhanced by the Lisbon Treaty, the European Parliament has a right of legislative initiative that allows it to ask the Commission to submit a proposal. [...]

On the basis of a report by one of its committees, under Article 225 TFEU, Parliament, acting by a majority of its Members, may request the Commission to submit any appropriate legislative proposal. Parliament may, at the same time, set a deadline for the submission of such a proposal. The Parliament committee responsible must first ask the Conference of Presidents for authorisation. The Commission may agree or refuse to submit the proposal requested.

A proposal for a Union act on the basis of the right of initiative granted to Parliament under Article 225 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union may also be proposed by an individual Member of the European Parliament. Such a proposal shall be submitted to the President of the Parliament who refers it to the committee responsible for consideration. It may decide to submit it to the plenary (see above).

So while the European Parliament doesn't have the same level of unhindered legislative initiative as a national parliament, it's not completely without one.

The Commision can nay EP's proposals (think of it as a veto), but the EP can also ultimately dismiss the Commission:

The EP can censure the Commission and ultimately dismiss it. So far, none of the eight motions of censure brought before Parliament has been adopted. In 1999, the Santer Commission stepped down before Parliament forced its resignation.

So if the Commission ignores the EP big time (e.g. on numerous/repeated proposals), it's probably not going to end well for that Commission.

And for a bit of background why it is this way:

In 1990, Parliament demanded for itself a fully fledged initiative right, not dependent on the Commission, to address the alleged democratic deficit in the then Communities. This question was discussed again within the European Convention. However, under pressure to confer the same right on the Council, which, it was feared, might dilute the initiative right of the Commission and complicate the legislative procedure, EP negotiators dropped their demands for a 'direct' initiative right.

The Council has fairly symmetrical role in this respect

A similar 'indirect' initiative right is also conferred upon the Council (Article 241 TFEU), which may ask the Commission to undertake prelegislative "studies" of inter alia economic, social and legal circumstances and to submit to it any appropriate proposals.

Because of the convoluted procedure, EP hasn't exercised that article 225 right a whole lot:

Parliament adopted 29 legislative initiatives between 1994 and 2009. Since the beginning of the seventh mandate in 2009, 18 legislative initiative reports seeking proposals from the Commission have been launched

Up to 2013 when those stats were gathered, the Commission outright refused only one EP proposal.

Besides, how most EU laws are adopted (nowadays) is actually through the so-called informal bargaining...

The IB [informal bargaining] practice leads to the adoption of a legislative act without executing the entire OP [ordinary procedure]. The EUP, the Commission and the Council, indeed, negotiate the legislative measure in ‘informal trialogues’, concluding the law-making process the latest in an early second reading. Introduced in 1999, the use of IB has increased to 80% of the total number of laws enacted between 2008 and 2009, showing its substantial impact on the law-making process overall. In particular, [...] the IB increases the EUP’s effectiveness as a legislator. Through the IB the EUP has the possibility to interact more closely with the Council and the Commission, proposing and discussing amendments more efficiently. IB, therefore, reveals to be more time-saving than the OP. In addition, the EUP may benefit from closer dialogue with other institutions to support its policies.

Actually, more recent stats make the IB responsible for 93% of the EU legislation adopted between 2009-2014.

There's also criticism of IB because it effectively shuts out the small parties. and since the whole IB thing is informal, there's no press/TV scrutiny of how it happens (quite contra to the televised matches in the UK parliament, or even the speeches in the EP). There's some level of public disclosure of the trilogues, but only in about half of them, and even for the rest the information is sometimes incomplete.


You have already answered the question. MEPs review, amend and eventually approve or reject all European legislation. The Commission cannot pass any legislation without their approval.

See here for other duties

  • 1
    this does not answer the question. My question was about the reason what is the purpose of electing members of the Parliament since their legislative initiative is limited and what is the reason for not offering to them legislative initiative? May 28, 2019 at 18:57
  • 2
    @bogdantudose It might be better to rephrase your question to focus on the latter part. I think there's a historical reason for that (and it could be a duplicate, not 100% sure though).
    – JJJ
    May 28, 2019 at 19:07
  • MEPs do not amend legislation. They may propose amendments.
    – 52d6c6af
    Jun 14, 2019 at 10:27

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