European committees are set up to debate specific EU documents referred to them by the European Scrutiny Committee. They don’t have a permanent membership—a new European committee with a new set of members (usually 13) is appointed to debate each document or group of documents. The membership normally includes at least two members of the European Scrutiny Committee and at least two members of the relevant departmental select committee. There are three European committees: A, B and C, each of which deals with documents from a different group of departments.
You can try to amend the motion. If you aren’t a member of a European committee you can still attend, speak or propose an amendment at committee meetings, but you can’t vote.
A European committee meeting can last up to two and a half hours and follows a set format. A document pack is sent to members of the committee shortly before the meeting. It normally includes:
- the EU document(s) under consideration
- an explanatory memorandum from the Government, setting out their position
- an extract from the relevant European Scrutiny Committee report (introducing the document and saying why the committee has recommended it for debate
You can also get a copy from the Vote Office.
After a European committee has finished meeting, the Government table a motion, to be considered by the House, on the EU document(s). This doesn’t have to be the same as the motion agreed by the European committee. If the document(s) has been debated in a European committee, there can be no debate in the Chamber. The question on the motion will be put immediately.
You can find transcripts of European committee meetings online on Hansard’s website or you can get a hard copy from the Vote Office.
European Committee meetings are chaired by members of the Panel of Chairs (MPs appointed by the Speaker for this purpose).