European Parliament is the parliament of the European Union. Thus, European Parliament might also sometimes be known as the EU Parliament. The European Parliament joins with the Council of the European Union as the legislative branch of the European Union, meaning that the European Parliament is not, in and of itself, the legislative branch of the European Union.
The EU Parliament is made of 736 different Members of the European Parliament, or MEPs. These members are voted for directly within the member states of the European Union. The European Parliament is considered to be the “lower house” out of the two institutions involved in the legislative branch of the European Union.
Neither the EU Parliament nor the Council of the European Union has one of the most commonly seen powers of legislative branches in other state governments, which is legislative initiative. Legislative initiative is the power to propose new legislation. Because the EU Parliament does not have this power, then, it can only repeal or veto incoming legislation, but it cannot actually create new legislation on its own. The European Commission must instead propose the legislation which comes before the European Parliament.
The European Parliament can directly ask the European Commission to propose a piece of legislation, however, and thus de facto has the power to propose new legislation, as the European Commission often goes along with the proposals made by the EU Parliament. The EU Parliament also has a significant amount of power on other elements of the European Union’s conduct and functioning.