It is hardly a secret that the European Parliament’s formal powers fall short of those accorded to a "proper" national legislature. One of the more tiring consequences of this situation is the Parliament’s lingering inferiority complex, which expresses itself all too often in grandstanding, overblown rhetoric and a deep desire to be constantly consulted, informed and patted on the back by the Brussels big boys – the Commission and Council.
Given the unique nature of the Union’s constitutional set-up, the Parliament will almost certainly remain a somewhat stunted creature for a long time to come. Member states will never give up their de-facto veto over lawmaking and their exclusive rights in many other areas, not least foreign policy.
Yet all this has not stopped the Parliament from emerging as an increasingly powerful player in the past few years. The latest example of the chamber’s growing clout may well have surfaced this week, when the Parliament’s transport committee voted on an ambitious plan to fully liberalise the Union’s €90bn postal services market.