The European Parliament (EP) is the parliamentary body of the European Union (EU) members, elected by direct universal suffrage. It shares with the Council of the European Union the legislature of the European Union.
The Parliament is composed of 766 MEPs, representing 380 million voters from 28 states (2013) , that is to say, the second largest electorate in the world behind that of India, and most large transnational electorate. Since 1979, the Parliament is elected every five years by direct universal suffrage, proportional representation. It does not have legislative initiative, the European Commission has a monopoly on this. Although Parliament is the “main” institution of the European Union (mentioned first in the treaties and the ceremonial precedence over all other European authorities), the Council of Ministers has the most important legislative powers because he it is the only organ that passes all laws, and the only one passing laws in areas where the codecision procedure does not apply. However, Parliament has control of the expenditure side (but not the revenue side) of the European budget.
Its headquarters are in Strasbourg, France, where plenary sessions are held, and its committees, as well as some additional plenary sessions shall be held at the Espace Léopold, in Brussels, Belgium, and its General Secretariat is located in Luxembourg.