The work of MEPs
MEPs are the elected representatives of the people in the EU; they represent their interests and those of their cities or regions in Europe. They listen to people with local and national concerns, interest groups and businesses. They are EU lawmakers but can also quiz the Commission and the Council of Ministers. MEPs play an important role on the big issues of our times such as climate change, migration, human rights in the world and the way in which we regulate our financial markets.
MEPs’ daily workload is split between work for their constituents back in their home country, their work in the committees, the debates in their political groups as well as debates and votes in the plenary. MEPs attend meetings of their committees and their political groups as well as many others. They may also be part of a delegation for relations with non EU-countries which might require occasional travel outside the EU.
Working in committees
Parliament is divided up into twenty specialised committees, which are the first to deal with legislative proposals submitted to it.
These committees deal with the legislative proposals through the adoption of reports with amendments. (In between the committee votes and the plenary debates and votes, the amendments and resolutions are discussed by the political groups.) The committees also appoint a team of MEPs to conduct negotiations with the Council on EU legislation. And they adopt own-initiative resolutions, organise hearings with experts and scrutinise the other EU bodies and institutions.
A committee consists of between 25 and 73 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 it may create committees of inquiry to investigate alleged contraventions or maladministration of EU law. The parliamentary committees normally meet in Brussels. Their debates are held in public and, in principle, can be followed by webstreaming.