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With the summer recess over, parliamentary committees are meeting again this week. Which committee to join is one of the key decisions for new MEPs to take as it will determine in which field they will focus most of their efforts. Committees play a crucial role in policy-making, as they are responsible for drafting Parliament's positions on new legislative proposals. How do the committees operate? Read on and check out our infograghic to find out who the committee chairs are.
Every month two weeks are set aside for committee work. During committee meetings MEPs discuss legislative and non-legislative reports, propose and vote on amendments and follow up on negotiations with the Council. Committees also organise hearings with experts, scrutinise EU institutions and bodies, and prepare own-initiative reports that are not legally binding, but indicate Parliament’s views on a subject.
For the current term the EP has 20 standing committees and 2 subcommittees. They cover the whole range of EU competencies from international trade to consumer protection and gender equality. Parliament may also set up committees of inquiry and special committees. In the previous term - from 2009 to 2014 - there were three special committees: on policy challenges, the crisis and organised crime.
The size of committees varies significantly, from 25 members (fisheries, legal affairs and constitutional affairs) to 71 (foreign affairs), but their composition always reflects the weight each political group has in the Parliament as a whole. Usually an MEP is a member of one committee and a substitute on another one.
On any given subject, committees appoint an MEP from their ranks as rapporteur to draft the Parliament's position on each new legislative proposal. The Parliament's position is known as a report. The political groups then propose amendments to the text the MEP has written and try to agree on a compromise text to be submitted to the plenary for approval.
You can watch the meetings of the committees live on our website and follow the committees with our list on Twitter.