Once a toothless outfit, the European Parliament has acquired more power over the years by passing legislation affecting the lives of 500 million EU nationals. The outgoing assembly passed 1,355 laws that, among other things:
- Slashed mobile phone costs
- Force airline and travel agents to publish air fares with no surprise charges
- Banned toxic chemicals from toys
- Forced the chemical industry to register 30,000 chemicals for testing
- Told governments to recycle half of household paper, metal and glass waste and 70 per cent of construction waste by 2020.
- Lowered carbon dioxide emissions of new cars provided for mutual recognition of medical diplomas enabling doctors and nurses to work anywhere in the EU
- Mandated higher quality for coastal waters, rivers and lakes
- Ban the sale of mercury thermometers.
- Eased restrictions on companies to provide financial and other services across the EU
- Liberalized postal services by 2013 at the latest.
- Forced railway companies to compensate passengers for delays and adapt trains and airports for disabled people.
- As an anti-terrorist measure, order banks to check customers' identity when they open an account or transfer money in excess of euro15,000. Casinos must do an ID check on anyone gambling away more than euro2,000.
- Passed new streamlined pay and perks rules for members ensuring they will earn far less than their predecessors and face far stricter spending rules.
- Passed EU-wide bans on the import of dog and cat fur to end the trade and the imports of seal products to force the end to seal hunts worldwide.
The EU assembly failed to adopt other rules before it adjourned for elections in May:
- It was unable to reach agreement with EU governments to tighten Europe-wide working rules that would force employers to cap normal working time at 48 hours a week.
- It voted down plans that would have opened up the EU's telecommunications sector to more competition because of
disagreements over how much protection to give to consumers for online services.
- It could not resolve disagreements with EU governments over whether to set an EU-wide standard on an 18-week maternity leave.