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The European Parliament is the directly elected parliamentary institution of the European Union. Together with the Council of the European Union and the European Commission, it exercises the legislative function of the EU. The Parliament is composed of 751 members, who represent the second largest democratic electorate in the world and the largest trans-national democratic electorate in the world. It has been directly elected every five years by universal suffrage since 1979. However, turnout at European Parliament elections has fallen consecutively at each election since that date, and has been under 50% since 1999. Turnout in 2014 stood at 42.54% of all European voters. Although the European Parliament has legislative power that the Council and Commission do not possess, it does not formally possess legislative initiative, as most national parliaments of European Union member states do. The Parliament is the "first institution" of the EU, and shares equal legislative and budgetary powers with the Council. It likewise has equal control over the EU budget. Finally, the European Commission, the executive body of the EU, is accountable to Parliament.

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