Every time, presidential elections take place in the United States, the spotlight falls on how the American legislative system works.

Congress goes back to the mid-1770s and the Revolutionary War against British colonial rule. Back then, it was called the Second Continental Congress. One of its first achievements: to declare the 13 American colonies independent. The birth of the United States of America.

The European Parliament rose from the ashes of World War II, in 1951, to be precise, as the Common Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community, the forerunner of the EU. Its membership then: national parliament members of France, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Italy.

Today, Congress comprises two chambers: the House of Representatives, 435 seats, and the Senate, 100 seats.
Both are split between Republicans and Democrats with a few independents in the larger house.

The European Parliament, by contrast, currently has eight main groups from the EU's Member States, reflecting all political shades. Europe's centre-right Christian Democrats are the largest, followed by the centre-left Social Democrats, then centre-right Conservatives. There are also over 15 non-attached members sitting outside the main groups and mostly from the far-right.

As for powers, things are very different across the pond. Congress sets the federal budget and tax collection, foreign policy, senior appointments and it can impeach the President, the Vice-President and all civil officers of the United States. The European Parliament shares its power with the EU's Member States: the Council. It co-decides and can block the EU's annual budget. It elects the Commission and has many supervisory powers, but it can't initiate legislation or raise taxes. On foreign relations, it can debate and recommend.

One other key difference: the Parliament speaks the EU's 24 official languages. Washington, its one language.

Credit to EuroparlTV