In addition to their growing role as legislators, MEPs approve the appointment of the European Commission, decide the EU budget with the member states, monitor spending, approve international agreements, question EU Commissioners and national Ministers, and appoint the Ombudsman. Parliament can also urge the European Commission to come up with new initiatives where it deems them necessary. In brief Parliaments powers entail:
The European Parliament adopts EU laws together with the Council, composed by national ministers who represent their governments. The normal procedure that is followed is the so-called codecion. This put the European Parliament and the Council on equal footing. Both EU institutions adopt EU laws proposed by the European Commission. Parliament has to give its final agreement if it doesnt the the EU law is rejected.
Again, Parliament and the Council together share the decision-making power. Parliament has the last word on most expenditure in the annual budget, such as spending on less prosperous regions. However, in the area of agriculture and fisheries, the Parliament can propose changes (amendments) to the budget but the Council has the final say, even though these areas represent some 40% of the Unions budget.
Parliament exercises democratic control over all EU activities. To facilitate this supervision can set up temporary committees of inquiry, which it has done in the case of the mad cow desease. With regard to the European Commission, Parliament ratifies the appointment of the President of the Commission. It also holds public hearings with nominee Commissioners and has to decide whether or not to appoint the Commission as a whole. Parliament also has the power to dismiss the Commission. Furthermore by adopting a "motion of censure", it uses its rights to question the Commission and the Council on topics of political importance.