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The Role of the European Parliament

The European Parliament (EP) has considerable powers to shape and influence legislative proposals and monitor the implementation of EU asylum and migration policy.


Legislative power

Unlike national parliaments the European Parliament (EP) does not initiate legislative proposals but rather discusses proposals from the European Commission. However, with the Lisbon Treaty ratification in 2010, the EP became a co-legislator on equal footing with the Council of the EU when it comes to legislation on irregular and regular immigration.

The EP has used this power to put pressure on the Council and positively influence the reform process of Common European Asylum System (CEAS) often in cooperation with civil society organisations.

Through the so-called own-initiative reports, the EP is also able to raise an issue of concern which may later result in a legislative proposal. The Parliament has passed several own-initiative reports in relation to migration, such as the own-initiative report on the situation in the Mediterranean or on Humanitarian Visas.


Budgetary power

With the Lisbon Treaty the EP got an equal say with the Council on the EU budget. The EP has the power to monitor different funding instruments and influence their spending, such as the increase of the Asylum, Migration and Integration (AMIF) fund in the current budget. The EP with the European Council also approves the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), which is the EU’s long-term budget, covering a seven-year-period.

The Parliament can play a significant role on the next MFF budget for the period 2021-2027 by approving the budget and making sure that the budget contributes to advancing the rights of asylum seekers and access to protection as well as support of human rights, democracy and the rule of law inside and outside the EU.

The EP often uses its budgetary powers to influence decisions that do not normally fall within the remit of its power.


Supervisory Power

The European Parliament has a range of supervisory and control powers. These allow the Parliament to exercise oversight over other institutions, to monitor the proper use of the EU budget and to ensure the correct execution of EU law.

The EP has the ability to formally discuss with and influence the European Council and head of states and the European Commission and ask the European Court to take action against the Commission or Council if they have acted in a way that is contrary to the spirit of the EU law.  The EP used this instrument successfully in the CJEU’s judgement of 6 May 2008 to obtain the withdrawal of the provisions concerning the agreements for adopting the common list of third countries regarded as safe countries of origins and safe third countries in Europe provided for in Council Directive 2005/85/EC.