Legislation, Implementation and Deliberation
Edited by Thomas Christiansen and Torbjörn Larsson
Chapter 7: The Role of European Parliament Committees in the EU Policy-Making Process
Christine Neuhold and Pierpaolo Settembri INTRODUCTION The fact that the European Parliament (EP) is now commonly seen as a co-legislator with the Council is a relatively new development. For more than three decades it did not enjoy any effective rights of participation in the legislative process. The increase in the EP’s powers witnessed in the last twenty years has been accompanied by a revaluation of the EP standing committees. They have become a key element in the EU policymaking process and can be seen as a vital contribution to the shaping of legislation: Westlake (1994, p. 191) effectively described them as the ‘legislative backbone’ of the EP. In particular, the introduction of the cooperation and, shortly afterwards, the co-decision procedure has turned committee chairs and rapporteurs into real legislative entrepreneurs, with an external relevance vis-à-vis the other European institutions engaged in lawmaking (Benedetto, 2005, p. 67). It might come as a surprise that, although these committees play such a major role within the EP, they have rarely been the focus of empirical studies. This chapter aims to contribute to ﬁlling this ‘gap’ by examining the functioning of these committees and the role they play within the EC policy-making process. From a theoretical point of view, interest in these structures is based on the belief that parliamentary procedures may affect political outcomes and that it is therefore desirable to shed light on the organisation and functioning rules of legislatures. As Shepsle and Weingast (1994, p. 151) point out, this assumption...
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