Ever wondered what a rapporteur does or what a third reading refers to? Plenary sessions contain plenty of terms that can be confusing to people who don't work for the European Parliament. Read on for a short introduction to the Parliament's workings to help make sense of it all.
The legislative procedure starts with a proposal by the European Commission, based on the input of member states and other stakeholders. The proposal is first considered by the relevant parliamentary committee which appoints one of its members as rapporteur to draft the Parliament's position on the Commission proposal. The position is written in a report and usually includes changes - also known as amendments - to the proposal.
The rapporteur is the MEP who has to draft the Parliament's position. From the very outset of the procedure, their name is associated with the legislative text.
The rapporteur ensures that the political groups in the Parliament agree on a final text and often proposes compromise amendments that take the different views into account. As the Parliament is one of the EU's two legislative institutions, the other being the Council, the rapporteur also negotiatiates with representatives of the Council, to seek agreement between the two institutions.
Parliamentary committees can also produce own-initiative reports on issues falling within their remit. These reports are aimed at raising awareness or expressing an opinion on a given issue and are a valuable political way for the Parliament to make a point or to respond to a general policy proposal by the Commission.
Under the ordinary legislative procedure, the Parliament may consider a report up to three times. A second or a third reading are only necessary, if an agreement on the final legislative text has not been reached with the Council. At second reading, the Parliament has to consider the Council’s position, which has already amended the text endorsed earlier by the Parliament and decide whether to accept it or modify it in its turn.
The third reading is the final chance for a legislative text to be adopted. At this stage the Parliament considers the result of the final negotiations with the Council, known as conciliation.