How Committees Run the European Parliament

Ana-Iuliana Postu

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

391 Downloads (Pure)


Parliamentary committees have become a key factor in the running of the European Parliament, considerably influencing the entire decision-making process of the institution. This thesis argues that with the EP constrained to increase its efficiency and legitimacy, the institution has seen the emergence of a strong committee system.
In its attempt to consolidate legitimacy through increased legislative output, the EP has developed powerful committees that lead legislative debates, explaining why a largely consensus-based policy process dominates the institution. The findings contrast with existing theories that only place political groups in the EP at the centre of the decision-making process, responsible for passing all legislative acts through the chamber. Moreover, the research is based on a methodological approach that challenges existing ones on the EP, mainly quantitative and relying ostensibly on rollcall vote data gathered from the voting sessions. This approach uses process tracing as a method to track the interactions and the processes present inside the EP, forming and informing the decision-making at committee and plenary level. The committees’ powers are tested with the help of the main argument, which stresses their influence over the full chamber, the space where the final decision of the EP is reached. This is done by an analysis of: 1. rapporteurs and their work in committees and the chamber; 2. amendments tabled to reports; and 3. political group debates related to them. These channels are identified as facilitators for the transfer of decisions from parliamentary committees to the full chamber, where they become the official EP position. In testing the main argument and with the help of the methodology, the thesis expands the existing understanding of the EP and its committee system, as well as verifying the potentiality of legislatures from federal or ‘divided government’ systems developing a strong system of committees.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Benedetto, Giacomo, Supervisor
Award date1 May 2015
Publication statusUnpublished - 2015

Cite this