The European Parliament is elected by European Union citizens and is the directly representative, democratic component of the EU system. Its core jobs are to legislate - amending and approving (or rejecting) proposed European laws - to decide the EU budget and to hold the European Commission to account. It must approve each incoming Commission, supervise its day-to-day work and has the power to remove it from office if dissatisfied with its performance.
Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) sit in ideological groupings rather than national delegations. The political process - debate, conflict, compromise and ultimately outcomes based on majorities and minorities - is like that in any other parliament.
MEPs, elected for five years, make decisions which affect us all directly. European laws, money and action impact the environment, the economy, the world of business, finance and industry, the basic freedoms we enjoy, our collective security, our rights as consumers, our daily health and safety and much more.
With the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, the European Parliament has become a powerful co-legislator and plays a determining role in shaping European policies. A vote in the European elections is every citizen's chance to influence the shape of the Parliament and the decisions it takes over its five year mandate.