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Institutions of the European Union

Institutions of the European Union (4th edn)

Dermot Hodson and John Peterson
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date: 29 September 2023

p. 1386. The European Parliament: The power of democratic ideaslocked

p. 1386. The European Parliament: The power of democratic ideaslocked

  • Michael Shackleton


This chapter examines how the power of the democratic idea drives change in the European Parliament’s (EP) powers. The EP, the only directly elected institution of the European Union, derives its authority from national electorates rather than national governments and is therefore a transnational institution. Since the first direct elections in 1979, the EP’s powers and status have grown dramatically, culminating in the changes agreed under the 2007 Lisbon Treaty. Nevertheless, the EU is perceived to be suffering from a ‘democratic deficit’. This chapter first traces the historical evolution of the EP before discussing its decision-making. It then considers how the EP aggregates interests, what influence it exercises, and what kind of body it is becoming. It concludes by assessing various perspectives about the EU’s democratic deficit. The chapter stresses the importance of consensus mechanisms within the EP as well as those that link it to other EU institutions.

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