History & Politics

The European Parliament
by Richard Corbett

The European Parliament is considered to be the standard reference work on the world's first experiment in transnational democracy, an institution that brings together elected representatives from all member states of the European Union. Currently in its sixth edition, the textbook is written by Richard Corbett together with Francis Jacobs and Michael Shackelton.

Developing in tandem with closer economic integration, the European Parliament is extending its influence over political decisions that are being taken beyond the national level. Responding to a decision-making process in the European Union that often takes place behind closed doors, the European Parliament has come to represent a viable means to ensure public participation in issues affecting the entire community.

The institutional structure and range of powers available to the Parliament are explored in three main sections of the book. Three introductory chapters to The European Parliament provide an historical context, explain the electoral process, and describe the day-to-day functioning of the Parliament. The following chapters focus on the role of individual members of Parliament, how groups of members are organized, and how the Parliament is led. This section also examines the Parliament's committee structures, its plenary sessions, its secretariat, and the growing phenomenon of intergroups.

The remaining chapters of The European Parliament discuss the influence of the European Parliament and how its current powers have evolved over the course of three decades since direct elections were first held in 1979. These powers are discussed in terms of the traditional functions of parliamentary bodies for participation in the legislative process, the appropriation of expenditures, oversight of the executive, and serving as a forum to articulate public concerns.

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About the Author

Richard Corbett is the Member of the European Parliament for Yorkshire and Humber. He serves as Deputy Leader of the Labour MEPs and is the party spokesperson on the Constitutional Committee of the European Parliament. Richard has been active in European politics for more than 30 years, being directly involved with many of the key transformations of the European Union during a period of unprecedented expansion.

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