Members are divided up among 20 specialised standing committees.
These committees instruct legislative proposals through the adoption of reports, propose amendments to Plenary and appoint a negotiation team to conduct negotiations with the Council on EU legislation. They also adopt own-initiative reports, organise hearings with experts and scrutinise the other EU bodies and institutions.
A committee consists of between 25 and 71 full members and an equivalent number of substitutes.
Each committee elects a chair and up to four vice-chairs amongst its full members, forming together the ‘committee bureau’, for a two and a half year mandate. The political make-up of the committees reflects that of the plenary assembly.
Parliament can also set up sub-committees and special temporary committees to deal with specific issues, and is empowered to create committees of inquiry to investigate alleged contraventions or maladministration of EU law.
At conciliation stage, a specific Conciliation Committee is set up.
The parliamentary committees normally meet in Brussels, and their work is supported by a secretariat. Their debates are held in public and, in principle, webstreamed.
The committee chairs coordinate the work of the committees in the Conference of Committee Chairs.
Parliament may at any time set up temporary committees on specific issues. These special committees have a 12-month mandate, which may be extended.
Parliament may set up committees of inquiry to investigate breaches of Union law or alleged maladministration in the application of the Union law.
These committees’ powers are based on the provisions governing the exercise of the European Parliament’s right of inquiry.
The Conference of Committee Chairs consists of the chairs of all standing or special committees. It elects its chair amongst its members for a two and a half year mandate.
It is the political body that coordinates the work of committees and ensures the smooth cooperation between them. It makes recommendations to the Conference of Presidents about the work of committees and the part-sessions’ agenda.
Conciliation is the third and final phase of the Ordinary Legislative Procedure (OLP) (also known as ‘codecision’). The conciliation procedure is opened if Council does not approve all the amendments adopted by the Parliament at second reading.
The Conciliation Committee consists of two delegations: the Council delegation, composed of one representative of each Member State (ministers or their representatives), and the Parliament delegation, composed of an equal number of MEPs. The Conciliation Committee is responsible for drawing up a ‘joint text’, which then has to be endorsed by both Parliament and the Council.