The Committees of the European Parliament: Establishing Influence in Times of Change

Friday, July 14, 2017
Court/Senate (University of Glasgow)
David Alexander , University of Glasgow
The European Parliament (EP) has evolved into a powerful legislative actor over the past 40 years. In order to exercise it’s hard won legislative competencies in an efficient, and effective, manner the EP has developed an extensive and influential committee system. The Treaty of Lisbon (ToL) recognised it’s equal status as co-legislator with the Council of the EU, and introduced the Ordinary Legislative Procedure (OLP) as the default EU legislative procedure in the 7th term (2009-2014). Despite the fact that after the introduction of the OLP all EP committees formally operate under the same legal procedure, disparities remain in the levels of influence that each committee commands. This state of affairs demonstrates that if we are to understand what drives committee influence we need to explore the informal sources of influence that committees draw on in addition to the formal rules.

This paper addresses the lack of understanding of how the committees establish legislative influence by identifying and testing the different resources which committees may be utilising to establish their influence. A qualitative approach, drawing upon extensive primary material from thirty semi-structured interviews, has been adopted, to create an alternative perspective from the quantitative studies that dominate the field. A number of the current conventions concerning the way in which partisan dynamics affect how committees establish influence are challenged. Overall, these original findings have highly significant implications, not only with regard to the committee system of the EP, but also for the wider field of legislative politics.

  • The Committees of the European Parliament Establishing Influence in Times of Change CES 2017 Glasgow1.pdf (1.0 MB)