EUR-Lex Access to European Union law

Back to EUR-Lex homepage

This document is an excerpt from the EUR-Lex website

Parliamentary committees

As is the case in national parliaments, the European Parliament (EP) sets up parliamentary committees on a wide range of specialised areas. On a proposal from its Conference of Presidents, the EP defines their size and powers.

Currently, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) work on 20 standing committees (i.e. permanent committees). These committees deal with subjects ranging from civil liberties, through regional development, to budgetary and financial affairs. A committee consists of between 25 and 81 full members and an equivalent number of substitutes. Each committee elects a chair and up to four vice-chairs amongst its full members, who together form the ‘committee bureau’, for a mandate of 2.5 years. The political composition of the committees reflects that of the EP as a whole.

The EP also sets up special committees to deal with specific topics, for a given period. In 2021, there are three special committees:

  • beating cancer,
  • foreign interference in all democratic processes in the European Union, including disinformation,
  • artificial intelligence in a digital age.

The EP may also set up committees of inquiry to investigate breaches of EU law or alleged maladministration in the application of EU law. The powers of these committees are based on the rules governing the exercise of the EP’s right of inquiry. Currently, there is one committee of inquiry — on the protection of animals during transport.

The EP can also set up subcommittees. The EP’s Foreign Affairs Committee has subcommittees dealing with human rights and security and defence, while the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee has a subcommittee on tax matters.

Committee membership: the EP’s political groups and MEPs who do not belong to a political group appoint the members to different committees at the beginning of a parliamentary term.

The committees produce reports that are drafted by a ‘rapporteur’:

  • legislative reports, proposing amendments to a draft legislation proposal from the European Commission;
  • non-legislative reports;
  • own-initiative reports.

Committees meet when convened by their Chair or at the request of the President of the EP. The Council and the Commission are allowed to take part in meetings, if invited to do so.

Parliamentary committees conduct hearings of Commissioners-designate in their specialised areas prior to the EP’s confirmation of a new European Commission.