VotingElections to the European Parliament will take place in May this year. Yet, an oddity of the European elections is that they are out of synch with the main policy and budgetary processes of the EU. Does this suggest that the role of the new Parliament is limited; that all that is left is the job of holding the executive to account for the implementation of decisions taken by others? Have the Parliament’s guns been spiked?

In this blog, Simon Maxwell and Mikaela Gavas argue that rather than being powerless, the new MEPs have an opportunity to exert influence in various subtle ways.  They also set out a series of questions on international development that can be asked of all political party manifestos.

Read the recent manifestos from the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE), the Socialists & Democrats (PES) and the European People’s Party (EPP), and our summary of the 2009 manifestos, which highlights the areas of consensus and points of contention.