The European Parliament (EP) can be considered the boldest advocate for ever more European integration. Its members (MEPs) have been pushing for broad Community competences in economic, social and financial policy matters from the EP’s first years of existence – a time in which member states struggled to agree on mere political rapprochement in major parts of the above-mentioned areas, and also a time in which the EP had, according to the Communities’ founding treaties, few parliamentary powers. This paper aims to show that despite the minor role assigned to it by the treaties, the EP developed into a de facto co-legislator long before the Single European Act (SEA), the Treaties of Maastricht and Amsterdam, being able to amend Council regulations and directives, and exercising a certain level of control not only over the Commission, but also the Council through non-binding instruments such as questions, which both institutions regularly answered. Different strategies will be assessed through which the MEPs aimed to gain more parliamentary power. Based on these analyses, the paper seeks to refute dominant theories of the EP as a fairly powerless talking shop prior to its first direct elections in 1979, demonstrating that treaty basis and political reality differed remarkably.
European Parliament, social policy, European Communities, legislative procedures, European integration, supranational activism
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