Resource Centre > Key Players > European Parliament

The European Parliament is the directly elected representative body which through the consultation, cooperation and co-decision procedures takes part in decision-making and legislation. Its other roles involve overseeing the work of the European Commission and approving of the EU budget. It is the only democratically elected body within the EU structure. The 785 Members are elected once every five years. The last election took place between 4 and 7 June 2009. See here for the results and the current membership of the Parliament. The first session of the new Parliament is to take place on 14th July.

The Parliament is involved in the area of collective redress, especially in response to the DG COMP White Paper:

The European Parliament’s response to the White Paper was to produce a Report 2008/2154/(INI) (Report on the White Paper on damages actions for breach of the EC antitrust rules of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs of 9 March 2009) and a Resolution (European Parliament Resolution of 26 March 2009 on the White Paper on damages actions for breach of the EC antitrust rules).

The Report was produced by the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (the Rapporteur was Klaus-Heiner Lehne MEP), and it was quite sceptical about any concrete proposal for an EU-level mechanism for collective redress in the area of damages for breaches of antitrust law: including the need for such a mechanism, the Community competence to adopt it, and its possible shape).

The Parliament’s Resolution is not as sceptical about the adoption of an EU-level collective redress mechanism. The Resolution welcomes the White Paper and agrees that effective enforcement of competition law requires that individual victims of breaches of competition law ought to be able to claim damages for losses suffered. The Resolution stresses that a collective redress mechanism, if adopted at the EU level, ought to supplement, not replace, the existing alternative forms of protection in some Member States (such as representative actions and test cases); and bringing private damages actions should supplement, not replace, public enforcement mechanisms (which it recommends ought to be reinforced by boosting staffing and funding of competition authorities). The Resolution emphasises the need to avoid abuses of the system, such as those present in the US, and mentions a number of necessary safeguards which have also been analysed in the White Paper: such as a certification stage, representation, introduction of a collective settlement mechanism, or not allowing punitive damages. The Resolution emphasises that while the introduction of a sectoral mechanism aimed exclusively at enforcing competition law is justified (because of more advanced work in this area, and specific problems faced by victims of breaches of competition law), a possible wider scope and a wider reach of this mechanism should be taken into account. Thus, it may be possible to further coordinate efforts with DG SANCO, and also consider wider implications of the new mechanism for civil procedure rules in the Member States.

MEPs operate in a number of Committees which prepare the work of the plenary sessions (including, drawing up, amending and adopting legislative proposals). There are 20 Committees, the key ones being:

Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI)

It is responsible for (among other issues):

  1. interpretation and application of European law, compliance of EU measures with primary law: the choice of legal bases and respect for the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality;
  2. interpretation and application of international law (if the EU is affected by it);
  3. simplification of EC law, in particular legislative proposals for its official codification;
  4. Community acts which affect the Member States' legal order, in the following areas:
    1. civil and commercial law,
    2. company law,
    3. intellectual property law,
    4. procedural law;
  5. environmental liability and sanctions against environmental crime;
  6. organisation and statute of the ECJ;
  7. the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market.

The Committee is particularly involved in the issues of civil justice and better regulation.

Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON)

It is responsible for (among other issues):

  1. economic and monetary policies of the EU, functioning of Economic and Monetary Union and the European monetary and financial system;
  2. free movement of capital and payments;
  3. rules on competition and State or public aid;
  4. tax provisions;
  5. the regulation and supervision of financial services, institutions and markets including financial reporting, auditing, accounting rules, corporate governance and other company law matters specifically concerning financial services.

Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO)

It is responsible for:

  1. coordination of national legislation in the areas of the internal market and customs union, and especially:
    1. a. the free movement of goods including the harmonisation of technical standards,
    2. the right of establishment,
    3. the freedom to provide services (except in the financial and postal sectors);
  2. identification and removal of potential obstacles to the functioning of the internal market;
  3. promotion and protection of the economic interests of consumers (except for public health and food safety issues).

Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE)

This is the Committee which bears responsibility for the area of judicial cooperation in civil matters (here link to glossary) (which is the official EU policy aiming at, among other objectives, harmonisation of civil procedures). It is responsible for (among other issues):

  1. protection of citizens' rights, human rights and fundamental rights;
  2. fighting all forms of discrimination (apart from those based on sex or those occurring at the workplace and in the labour market);
  3. legislation in the areas of transparency and of the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data;
  4. the establishment and development of an area of freedom, security and justice, in particular:
    1. measures concerning the entry and movement of persons, asylum and migration as well as judicial and administrative cooperation in civil matters,
    2. measures relating to police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters;