What is a parliamentary committee?

Life in parliament isn’t just about plenary sessions! MEPs are mainly kept busy by the parliamentary committees when they are not in session in Strasbourg or Brussels. Within these committees, MEPs do preparatory work for the plenary session. There are currently twenty permanent parliamentary committees, each of which focuses on a specific area such as Foreign Affairs, Fisheries, Culture and Education, Women’s rights and Gender Equality etc. Each committee has competency related to their area of expertise.

The permanent committees

Role

In parliamentary committees, MEPs examine proposals from the European Commission and the Council of the European Union and, if needs be, draft reports that will be presented at the plenary session.
The parliamentary committees can propose amendments to proposed directives and regulations put forward by the Commission. The ‘rapporteur’ (reporter?) is in charge of writing a draft report to be presented to colleagues who are also members of the parliamentary committee. Together, they study it and propose amendments to the draft report before adopting it by vote.
The report voted on in committee is then ready to be adopted again – this time at the plenary session.
A committee can also choose to draft an own-initiative report on a subject that they deem relevant.
Furthermore, a committee can also issue opinions directed at other parliamentary committees. 

Composition

In parliamentary committees, MEPs examine proposals from the European Commission and the Council of the European Union and, if needs be, draft reports that will be presented at the plenary session.
The parliamentary committees can propose amendments to proposed directives and regulations put forward by the Commission. The ‘rapporteur’ is in charge of writing a draft report to be presented to colleagues who are also members of the parliamentary committee. Together, they study it and propose amendments to the draft report before adopting it by vote.
The report voted on in committee is then ready to be adopted again – this time at the plenary session.
A committee can also choose to draft an own-initiative report on a subject that they deem relevant.
Furthermore, a committee can also issue opinions directed at other parliamentary committees.
The European Parliament currently has twenty parliamentary committees:

  • Foreign Affairs (AFET) which includes two sub-committees: Human Rights and Security and Defence
  • Development (DEVE)
  • International Trade (INTA)
  • Budgets (BUDG)
  • Budgetary Control (CONT)
  • Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON)
  • Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL)
  • Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI)
  • Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE)
  • Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO)
  • Transport and Tourism (TRAN)
  • Regional Development (REGI)
  • Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI)
  • Fisheries (PECH)
  • Culture and Education (CULT)
  • Legal Affairs (JURI)
  • Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE)
  • Constitutional Affairs (AFCO)
  • Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM)
  • Petitions (PETI)

How they work

Parliamentary committees meet in open session in Brussels once or twice per month, during the weeks that (in general) follow the plenary sessions. Each committee elects a president and four vice-presidents for a period of two and a half years and they also have a secretariat.
The committee presidents coordinate their work within the Conference of Committee Chairs.
After each meeting, the committees make the resulting documents publicly available.
If a proposal is related to two different areas, the relevant committees can work together on the issue and even put together a joint draft resolution.

Sub-committees and special committees

In addition to the permanent committees, the Parliament can decide to create extra temporary committees. There are several types of these: sub-committees, special committees and committees of enquiry.

Each permanent or special committee can nominate one or several sub-committees within it and decide on its composition.
Two sub-committees are currently in operation in the Parliament and both are attached to the Foreign Affairs Committee: Human Rights and Security and Defence.

The Parliament can at any point create a special committee and its competence, composition and mandate are decided on its creation. The mandate of these committees is twelve months but can be extended. At the moment, there are two: the Financial, Economic and Social Crisis Committee (CRIS); and the Policy Challenges Committee (SURE). The SURE committee aims to reflect on the political priorities of the European Parliament post-2013 with regard to legislative and budgetary matters.

Finally, if there are allegations of laws being breached or maladministration, the Parliament can also create committees of enquiry.

Last update : May 2011

03/03/12, Joel :
Bonjour a toutes et tous.Pourrait on savoir quel est le budget annuel de ce monstre de bureaucratie?Un tas de chiffres circulent sur le net, un peu disparates sans nul doute,mais affichant néanmoins des montants vertigineux!.Je vous en remercie.
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03/03/12, Joel :
Bonjour.Demande a la commission environnement santé publique,etc quelles ont été les lois Européennes sur l'assainissement individuel en milieu rural,plus communément appelées ANC en france,ou encore, ou les trouvées sur le site parlement européen.Merci.
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