Since the origins of the building of the European Community, the idea of a direct election of the EP was present. In the Rome Treaty, the commitment to abolish the system of nominated members was settled, but no timetable was laid down. Thus, it occurred only in 1979, after the reluctance of the Council of Ministers had been reduced. After that first election, the parliament held its first session on 11 July 1979, electing Simone Veil MEP as its President. Veil was also the first woman President of the Parliament since it was formed as the Common Assembly, and held an introductory speech of her mandate. Through this speech of Simone Veil, we will analyze the consequences of the direct election of the Parliament on its function of democratic control over the other institutions.
[...] From 1958 to 1979, there was therefore a paradox: the EP could not control the Council of Ministers, which, until the European Council came, was the only institution with legislative power, so it should be controlled as such. Indeed, for such a control, a greater legitimacy was required for the EP. Nevertheless, the Council steadily refused in the 60s and 70s the EP to be directly elected. When, at the end of the 70s, the EP threatened to take the Council to the European Court of Justice, it gave in. [...]
[...] But on the other hand, as the increase of the EP's role would come insidiously (it is not clearly institutionalised, but comes progressively through the practice), this seems to be a bit pernicious as well, und crammed with uncertainty. However, in how far will these wishes be realised within the further history of the EP? III) The effect of the new authority of the EP on its function of democratic control The further history of the building of Europe confirmed the wishes of S. Veil, but partially only. Indeed, it's clear that the EP increased its role of control. [...]
[...] So, an institutionalized vertical control of other institutions, above all of the Commission, was given to the EP. S. Veil's model of an increase through a horizontal cooperation proved to be false. Nevertheless, Veil was true in saying that the influence of the EP would grow through progressive and practical initiatives, and not by amending the Treaties (the Treaties indeed only took into account the existing evolutions). Nevertheless, one must concede that S. Veil was not entirely false. Indeed, an effective cooperation between the EP and the Council came with the procedure of co-decision. [...]
[...] The pressure of the Parliament had therefore an important influence on the Commission. Interestingly, in voting on the Commission, MEPs voted along party lines, rather than national lines, despite frequent pressure from national governments on their MEPs. This proves that the EP tends to have the same power as an Assembly in a parliamentary regime. Thus, the EP has only a right of veto over the composition of the Commission, but not an effective right of proposal of the Commissioners. [...]
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