During the monthly Plenary sessions certain MEPs present reports which have been adopted by one of Parliament’s committees. These reports contain proposals for resolutions or legislative amendments to be voted on by the entire Parliament. The reports are known by the personal names of the MEPs who draft and present them i.e “the Spinelli report”. This role is highly important in Parliament and the MEPs who write the reports are known by the French term “rapporteur”.
Rapporteurs are elected by fellow MEPs when one of Parliament's committees is assigned to draft up a report on a legislative proposal, another document from the European Commission or a particular subject. The rapporteur's key task is to analyse the project, consult with specialists in the particular field and with those who could be affected, discuss with other members within the committee and recommend the political “line” to be followed. All of these considerations flow into the report they submit to the Committee.
Step by step - from Committee to Plenary
The rapporteur receives practical help from the committee’s staff and for very technical matters can also get support from external experts and experts from other EU institutions.
First a working document is prepared which is discussed by the committee. For the most important issues hearings with participation of specialists are organised to exchange opinions with members of one or more EP committees.
Based on the results of the debates, a draft report is drawn up which will be discussed and amended until it is ready to face a plenary session. During this process, a report can be totally transformed and the rapporteur can therefore decide to resign the post and be substituted by another committee member. The report adopted by the committee comprises an explanatory statement, a motion for a resolution and amendments. In the plenary session, only the resolutions and amendments are debated and voted on.
How are rapporteurs selected?
The election of a rapporteur is usually done by a sophisticated points system. The seven political groups in the Parliament, who receive a number of points according to their size, bid for a report like an auction. It is easier and usually costs fewer points to propose a recognised specialist in the field of proposed legislation. It is also possible to arrange an agreement with the other groups on future reports and, in very special cases, it can be accepted to appoint two co-rapporteurs for a report. For regularly recurring reports like the annual EU budget report a rotation system is set up.