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Rapporteurs at the Centre of Committees in the European Parliament

Ana-Iuliana Postu
University of London, Royal Holloway College
Ana-Iuliana Postu
University of London, Royal Holloway College
Open Panel

Abstract

The paper looks at the activity and the role of the rapporteurs inside the Committees of the European Parliament in order to understand the implications of their work and their influence upon the EP decision-making process. More specifically, it analyses the legislative aspects linked to the work of rapporteurs and it looks at the range of processes that are active in a committee from the moment a report is distributed, bargained for by the political groups in the coordinators’ meeting, drafted by the Committee Secretariat, amended and, finally, voted upon in the Committee and in the EP plenary. In the past years, constant changes to the legislative powers of the EP have shifted the research focus away from the parliamentary Committees, their internal make-up and their rapporteurs, leading to a less comprehensive portrayal of their functions and organization. However, in the activity of the EP, Committees are often seen as representing the main part of the parliamentary activity of a member. The designated rapporteurs are at the core of these daily workings and act as policy entrepreneurs in charge of following a legislative proposal. Still, existing studies that have attempted to explain the assignment of rapporteurs in a Committee or the pattern of report allocation are neglecting the intricate set of interactions that take place in Committees amongst rapporteurs, shadow rapporteurs, group coordinators and members. This set of interactions frames the role of a rapporteur and, as our findings show, prove that explanations for rapporteurship assignments that follow the nationality or the attendance criteria are not sufficient. Most importantly, results point towards a pattern of consensus that can be followed across the activity of different Committees, where rapporteurs act as catalysers of the consensus.