Power of Control

The European Parliament’s power of control is exercised with regard to the other European institutions, notably with regard to the European Commission.

Control of the European Commission

The European Parliament’s power of political control over the European Commission has grown constantly.
Indeed the Lisbon Treaty states that now it “elects” the president of the European Commission on the basis of a proposal put forward by the European Council that has to take account of the result of the European elections. This opens the way to the politicization of the European elections. It then auditions each of the potential commissioners and can refuse the investiture of any of them. They then swear in the entire college of the European Commission ie the president and the commissioners. To this we might add censure of the Commission on the part of the Parliament.
In 2004, the European Parliament notably refused the investiture of Italian Rocco Buttiglione because of his comments on homosexuality and the position of women in society. In 2009, the European Parliament also refused the swear in Ms Jeleva and Bulgaria had to put forward another candidate for the post of Commissioner. Any new commissioner has to be auditioned by the European Parliament

Control of the Council and the European Commission

MEPs can ask “Written” or “Oral” Questions to the Council or the European Commission to control their activities.
They also look at the reports presented by the European Commission.
At the start of each six-monthly presidency of the Council the president in office of the Council of the European Union comes to present his working programme; at the end of the presidency he has to review the results he has achieved. Finally the President of the European Council will have to present a report to Parliament after each of the European Council’s meetings.

Control in the Economic and Financial Area

The European Parliament exercises a power of control over the economic and financial area.
It gives its approval to the appointment of the president and vice-president and the members of the board of the European Central Bank (ECB). The ECB president also has to present the his institution’s annual report in a plenary session at the European Parliament.
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Use of the Court of Justice of the European Communities

The European Parliament can turn to the Court of Justice of the European Communities to annul community acts or in appeal against inadequacies on the part of the European Commission or the Council of Ministers, if they do not fulfil their obligations.
The most recent example of the the European Parliament referring to the ECJ was that of an action for annulment. Firstly the European Parliament asked the Court to annul the Council’s regulation dating 24th June 2010 regarding investment projects related to energy infrastructures in the European Union and secondly if it did annul this regulation that it should remain effective until a new regulation had been adopted.
In this case it concerned a Council regulation on investment projects. The Parliament deemed that the text infringed the treaties since it was not founded on a sound legal basis. The Council should have used the ordinary legislative procedure in which the Parliament would have given its opinion.
The Parliament won and the Council regulation was annulled. It remained effective until a new decision was taken.

The Temporary Committee of Inquiry

In the event of a crisis, infringement or poor application of community law the European Parliament can appoint Committees of Inquiry..
In 1996, a Temporary Committee of Inquiry was established into “the mad cow crisis”; in 2006 the European Parliament established a Temporary Committee of Inquiry on the alleged use of European countries by the CIA for the transport and illegal detention of prisoners.