Next month we’ll be voting (well, about a third of us will) for MEPs to represent us in the European Parliament. Here in Yorkshire and Humber, we send 6 elected representatives to the EU after voting under a system of proportional representation. But what do MEPs do, and how much power do they have?
MEPs are elected for five year terms, but the power they have is actually quite limited. The cannot propose or draft new legislation or implement or enforce existing legislation. This role is reserved for the European Commission. MEPs are limited to amending or blocking legislation proposed by the Commission, and under certain circumstances can ask the Commission to prepare proposals for new legislation (although the Commission can refuse the request).
So if MEPs don’t have much power, where does power in the EU sit? The late Tony Benn famously set out five questions for powerful people:
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