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European Parliamentthe democratic assembly of the EUROPEAN UNION. Members are directly elected and are known as Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). They are elected by proportional representation, and the term is for five years. The Parliament exercises an advisory and supervisory role. It has some influence as a result of the Budgetary Treaty of 1970, and the Single European Act gave it added influence by extending the CODECISION PROCEDURE. The COMMISSION OF THE EUROPEAN UNION must reply to Members' questions, and the COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION has agreed to do so also. An elephant gun of control, existing in the power to pass a motion of censure on the Commission that, if passed, would force the Commission to resign, has been used once and improves the Parliament's influence over this body. Such a motion can be passed only after substantial procedural hurdles have been cleared. Parliament's budgetary powers allow it to modify obligatory expenditure under the Treaty and allow it to amend non-obligatory expenditure within a maximum set by the Commission. It must adopt the budget, and in 1979 exercised its power to reject it for important reasons, acting by a majority of members and two-thirds of the votes cast. Since the inter-institutional agreement of 1 July 1988, arrangements have been made to prevent the disruption that such action can have on Community finances. Along with the EUROPEAN COURT OF AUDITORS, the Parliament supervises the implementation of the budget. The Parliament has standing to institute action in the COURT OF JUSTICE against the Commission or the Council.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006