21 Nov 2014

Who calls the shots in the committees of the new European Parliament?

Sonia Piedrafita

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This CEPS Special Report analyses the composition of the 20 committees in the new European Parliament and how representative they are of the 28 member states, identifying which policy areas or committees are of particular interest to MEPs from certain countries. It also examines the allocation of committee chairs and party coordinator positions to assess whether the country of origin matters and if so, why. The study reveals that in general the countries’ share of representatives in the committees is very similar in most of the cases to their representation in Parliament. Still, some policy areas have a special relevance for some countries and attract their MEPs in larger numbers. Due to the procedure used in the allocation of the committee chairs, which favours the largest political groups and the largest national parties within them, MEPs from larger member states tend to hold most of these coveted positions. The internal process followed by the political groups in appointing their coordinators in the respective committees is predisposed towards MEPs with seniority, experience and good connections. All in all, the strategic relevance that national parties attach to these positions makes a difference.

Sonia Piedrafita is Research Fellow in the Politics and Institutions research unit at CEPS.