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Rules of Procedure of the European Economic and Social Committee

Rules of Procedure of the European Economic and Social Committee

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Rules of Procedure of the European Economic and Social Committee


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Anti-discrimination and relations with civil society

Rules of Procedure of the European Economic and Social Committee

Document or Iniciative

Rules of procedure of the European Economic and Social Committee.


Article 303 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (EU) confers upon the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) the power to self-regulate. These rules of procedure establish the functioning and organisation of the EESC.


In accordance with Article 300 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, the Committee consists of representatives of organisations of employers and of the employed. It also includes representatives of civil society, notably in socio-economic, civic, professional and cultural areas.

Moreover, the members are proposed by the governments of the Member States and are appointed by the Council, for five years. Their number cannot exceed 350.


The bureau

It consists of:

  • the President and the two Vice-Presidents;
  • the three Group Presidents (Group I: employers; Group II: employees; Group III: various economic and social interests);
  • the six section Presidents;
  • a variable number of members, which cannot exceed the number of Member States.

The President is elected from among the members of the three Groups and the Vice-Presidents are elected from among the members of the two Groups to which the President does not belong. They are elected for a period of two years, in accordance with the principle of group rotation.

The Bureau’s chief tasks are as follows:

  • it lays down the organisation and working procedures of the Committee and has political responsibility for its general management;
  • together with the President of the Committee, it exercises the budgetary and financial powers provided for in the Financial Regulation and the Committee’s Articles of Procedure;
  • it lays down the Implementing Provisions of the Rules of Procedure, whose interpretation it clarifies;
  • every six months it examines, on the basis of a report drawn up for this purpose, the action taken on opinions delivered by the Committee.

The Presidency and the President

The Presidency (the President and the two Vice-Presidents) meets with the Group Presidents to prepare the work of the Bureau and the assembly.

The President, elected for two and a half years, directs the work of the Committee. He involves the Vice-Presidents in his activities on a permanent basis. He represents the Committee in its external relations. He reports to the Committee on action and measures taken on its behalf. After his election, he presents his work programme for his term of office at the plenary assembly and presents a review of achievements at the end of his term.

The specialised sections

The Committee comprises six specialised sections:

  • Agriculture, Rural Development and the Environment;
  • Economic and Monetary Union and Economic and Social Cohesion;
  • Employment, Social Affairs and Citizenship;
  • External Relations;
  • Single Market, Production and Consumption;
  • Transport, Energy, Infrastructure and the Information Society.

Other sections may be set up by the plenary assembly on a proposal from the Bureau, in the fields covered by the Treaties. Apart from the President, every member of the Committee must be a member of at least one specialised section and a maximum of two (with exceptions). The members of the sections are appointed by for two and a half years.

The task of the specialised sections is to draw up opinions or information reports on questions referred to them. They may set up from among their members a study group or drafting group or appoint a rapporteur working alone. The rapporteur is responsible for preparing opinions and monitoring action taken on opinions by the European institutions, once the opinion has been adopted in plenary session.

The subcommittees

For some subjects, especially those where different specialised section remits overlap, the Committee may set up ad hoc sub-committees. These subcommittees operate in the same way as the specialised sections and their draft opinions are submitted directly to the Committee for discussion.

The observatories, hearings, experts

The Committee may set up observatories when the nature, extent and specific character of the subject to be dealt with calls for particular flexibility in terms of the working methods, procedures and instruments to be used.

Likewise, if an issue under discussion is of sufficient importance, the various bodies and working units of the Committee may invite guest speakers from outside the Committee to a hearing.

Finally, the President may appoint experts to clarify technical questions posed by the activities.

The consultative commissions

The Committee has the option of setting up consultative commissions. These commissions are made up of members of the Committee and of delegates from areas of civil society that the Committee wishes to involve in its work.

Dialogue between the EU’s social and economic organisations and third countries

Because of its specific mission, the Committee may maintain structured relations with economic and social councils and similar institutions and with civil society organisations in the European Union and third countries. The Committee appoints the delegations responsible for maintaining these relations.

The groups and categories

The Committee is made up of three Groups representing respectively employers, employees and the various other economic and social components of organised civil society. The Groups elect their Presidents and Vice-Presidents. They participate in the preparation, organisation and coordination of the business of the Committee.

  • The Employers’ Group (Group I) has members from private and public sectors of industry, small businesses, chambers of commerce, wholesale and retail trade, banking and insurance, transport and agriculture.
  • The employees’ group (Group II) has members from national trade union organisations, both at the level of confederations and that of sectoral federations.
  • The group including the other components of civil society (Group III) consists of members of farmers’ organisations, consumers’ organisations, small businesses, the crafts sector, liberal professions and NGOs in the field of social protection and environmental protection.

Members of the three groups of the Committee may, on a voluntary basis, form categories representing the various economic and social components of organised civil society in the European Union.


Consultation of the Committee

The Committee produces opinions requested by the Council, the Commission or the European Parliament.

The Committee may also deliver opinions on its own initiative, information reports or resolutions on any question pertaining to the tasks assigned to the European Union.

Furthermore, the Committee’s opinions set out its position on the issue referred to it. They are generally accompanied by concrete proposals. In its opinions, the Committee defends the interests of civil society in particular, which it represents at European level.

Work of the specialised sections

When an opinion or information report is to be produced, the Bureau designates the specialised section that is to be responsible for preparing the work in question.

The rapporteur, assisted where appropriate by one or more co-rapporteurs and an expert, studies the question referred, collect the views expressed and, on this basis, compile the draft opinion, which is sent to the specialised section for discussion and approval by voting.

Proceedings of the plenary sessions

The Committee meets in plenary assembly during the different sessions (ten sessions each year as a rule). The Committee’s plenary assembly adopts its opinions on the basis of the opinions of the specialised sections and sends them to the Council, the Commission and the European Parliament.

The draft agenda is drawn up by the Bureau on a proposal from the Presidency in collaboration with the Group Presidents. It is sent to all Committee members and to the Council, the Commission and the European Parliament. It is submitted for approval by the assembly before the opening of the relevant session.

Opinions adopted by the Committee and minutes of Committee sessions are sent to the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission. They are published in the Official Journal of the European Union. Regardless of the legal basis for consultation (mandatory or optional referral) the Committee’s opinions are a legally necessary component in the Council’s final decisions.


Methods of voting

Except where otherwise provided, adoption of the texts and decisions of the Committee and its constituent bodies shall be by a majority of the votes. Voting is by open ballot, by recorded vote, or by secret ballot.

The urgency procedure

Where the urgency results from a deadline for the submission of its opinion imposed on the Committee, the urgency procedure may be applied. The President may, immediately and without consulting the Bureau beforehand, take all requisite steps to enable the Committee to carry out its work. He informs the members of the Bureau of the steps which he takes.

Publication and distribution of Committee texts

The Committee publishes its opinions in the Official Journal of the European Union. Likewise, the names of the members of the Committee, its Bureau and its specialised sections are published in the Official Journal.

The Secretary-General of the Committee is responsible for taking the measures necessary to guarantee the public’s right of access to the corresponding documents. Any citizen of the European Union may write to the Committee in one of the official languages and receive a reply written in the same language

Plenary sessions and meetings of the specialised sections are public. Moreover, the members of the European institutions may attend and address meetings of the Committee and its.

This summary is for information only. It is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document, which remains the only binding legal text.

Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament

Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Citizenship of the Union

Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament

Document or Iniciative

Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament (EP).


The Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament (EP) establish the internal organisation and functioning of the institution. Article 232 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU gives Parliament the power to adopt its own Rules of Procedure.



The Members of the EP exercise their mandate independently, subject to the rules concerning incompatibility laid down in the Act of 20th September 1976 (amended by Decision 2002/772/EC). They enjoy privileges and immunities in accordance with the Protocol 7 on the privileges and immunities of the EU.

The President, the 14 Vice-Presidents and the 5 Quaestors are elected by their peers by secret ballot. Their nominations must have the support of a political group or at least 40 Members. Their term of office is two and a half years.

The President:

  • directs all the activities of and represents Parliament;
  • opens, suspends and closes sittings;
  • directs parliamentary debates;
  • rules on the admissibility of amendments in plenary session, on questions to the Council and Commission, and on the conformity of Parliament’s reports with its Rules of Procedure;
  • refers to committees any communications that concern them.

The Vice-Presidents may replace the President as provided for in the Rules of Procedure, for example if the President wishes to take part in a debate. The Quaestors are also responsible for administrative and financial matters.

Governing bodies

Parliament has several governing bodies, the most important of which are:

  • the Bureau: consisting of the President, the 14 Vice-Presidents and the Quaestors (who serve in an advisory capacity), it takes financial, organisational and administrative decisions on matters concerning Parliament;
  • the Conference of Presidents: it consists of the President, the chairmen of the political groups and a non-attached Member who participates in the Conference without a right to vote. The Conference takes decisions on the organisation of Parliament’s work and matters relating to legislative planning, draws up the agendas for Parliament’s part-sessions, determines the composition and areas of competence of committees, and authorises the drawing up of own-initiative reports. It is also responsible for relations with the other institutions and bodies of the European Union as well as with certain non-member countries and non-Union institutions and organisations.

There are also two other Conferences, the Conference of Committee Chairmen and the Conference of Delegation Chairmen. Both may make recommendations to the Conference of Presidents.

Groups and political parties

The political groups are formed on the basis of political affinities and consist of a minimum of 25 Members elected in at least one quarter of the Member States. The political groups and Members who have not joined a group are provided with a secretariat, administrative facilities and the appropriations entered for the purpose in Parliament’s budget.

The Statute of the European political parties was approved in 2004. Parliament’s Rules of Procedure merely set out the powers and responsibilities of its governing bodies in relation to them. The President represents Parliament in its relations with these parties and the Bureau decides on requests for financing.


Parliamentary committees

The organisation and operation of Parliament is the responsibility of the parliamentary committees. There are three types of parliamentary committee:

  • standing committees: These committees are at the heart of Parliament’s legislative work (Annex VII to the Rules of Procedure). The standing committees examine the matters referred to them according to their powers and responsibilities. Should it fall within more than one area, the matter may be referred to a maximum of three committees;
  • special committees: Their powers, composition and term of office are defined when they are set up. Their mandate cannot exceed twelve months;
  • committees of inquiry: These are ad hoc committees set up by Parliament at the request of one quarter of its Members to investigate contraventions or maladministration in the implementation of European law.

The standing and special committees are set up on a proposal of the Conference of Presidents. Their permanent and substitute members are elected after nominations have been submitted by the political groups and the non-attached Members. The composition of these committees should correspond as far as possible to that of Parliament as a whole.

Interparliamentary delegations

There are also standing interparliamentary delegations, set up on a proposal from the Conference of Presidents, which decides on their nature and the number of their members. Parliament can also set up joint parliamentary committees with the parliaments of States associated with the Union or States with which accession negotiations have been initiated..

Sessions of Parliament

Each year of the term corresponds to one session divided into 12 part-sessions (monthly plenaries). The monthly part-session is subdivided into daily sittings.

Parliament’s seat is in Strasbourg, where it holds 12 monthly part-sessions. Additional part-sessions and committee meetings are held in Brussels.

Members have the right to speak in the official language of their choice. Leave to speak and speaking time are carefully regulated.

A draft agenda is drawn up by the Conference of Presidents. The final agenda is then adopted at the start of each session. Moreover, the points listed in the agenda may be the subject of a debate, proposals for amendments or the subject of a single vote without debate.


Parliament cooperates with the Commission and the Council in drawing up the European Union’s legislative programme (see Annex XIV). Once the Commission has submitted a proposal, the legislative procedure in Parliament starts with an in-depth examination of respect for fundamental rights, the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, and an estimate of the financial resources needed.

In the case of legislative reports, the President of Parliament sends the Commission proposals, consultations, requests by the Council or from the Commission for an opinion, and the Council common positions to the parliamentary committee, which first examines the legal basis. The committee then appoints a rapporteur whose report will comprise draft amendments, if any, a draft legislative resolution and, if appropriate, an explanatory statement. The committee chairman may also propose that the proposal be approved without amendment following a first discussion, unless at least one tenth of the committee members object.

A rapporteur is also appointed in the case of non-legislative reports, such as own-initiative reports or opinions. He must present a report comprising a motion for a resolution, an explanatory statement including a financial statement, and the texts of any motions for resolutions to be tabled in plenary.

Own-initiative reports, sent to the Commission so that it can present a proposal for legislation, must first be authorised by the Conference of Presidents. The Conference has two months to take a decision. If authorisation is withheld, the reason must be stated.

Legislative procedures

All legislative proposals from the Commission are sent to the competent parliamentary committee which draws up a report. On the basis of this report, the Parliament may adopt the text, propose amendments or reject the proposal.

In the ordinary legislative procedure, the Parliament is co-legislator with the Council of the EU. The two institutions adopt legislative acts either at first reading or at second reading. If, at the end of the second reading, the two institutions have still not reached agreement, a conciliation committee is convened.

Furthermore, there are special legislative procedures within which the Council of the EU is the sole legislator and the Parliament is only associated with the procedure. The role of the Parliament is therefore limited to consultation on, and approval of, the legislative proposal.

Quorum and voting

A quorum exists when one third of the Members are present in the Chamber. Voting is usually by show of hands, but voting by roll call, electronic voting and voting by secret ballot are also possible in some circumstances.

Other procedures

Particularly sensitive areas, such as the budget and foreign relations, are subject to a separate procedure.

Parliament plays a key role with respect to the EU Budget; it is involved in adopting the budget, controls its implementation and grants discharge to the Commission in respect of such implementation.

The EP also plays an important role in concluding international agreements. In particular, it can formulate recommendations and deliver its opinion or approval on the signing of all international agreements.


Relations with the other European institutions and bodies

Parliament elects the President of the Commission and the College of Commissioners. Once they have been appointed, the Commissioners are asked to present their policy approaches in plenary and to the committees responsible. Parliament may also submit and vote on a motion of censure leading to the resignation of the Commission. A framework agreement on relations with the Commission can be found in Annex XIII.

Parliament also gives its opinion on the appointment of Members of the Court of Auditors and Members of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank.

Parliament may also consult the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and the Committee of the Regions on matters of a general nature or on specific points. It also has the right to submit requests to European agencies and to make referrals to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

In order to improve or clarify procedures, Parliament may enter into interinstitutional agreements with the other institutions. Parliament has other means of interacting with the institutions. It may for example put questions to the Council or the Commission, which will answer orally during the debate or in writing if so requested by Parliament. It may also submit written questions to the European Central Bank.

Relations with national parliaments

Parliament briefs the national parliaments regularly on its activities. A delegation from the EP meets the national delegations in the Conference of Parliamentary Committees for European Affairs.

Relations with citizens

All citizens or residents of the European Union have the right of access to parliamentary documents, within the limits defined. Committee and plenary debates are public and reports on plenary debates are published in the Official Journal, thereby guaranteeing the transparency of and the public’s right to information on Parliament’s proceedings.

All citizens or residents of the European Union also have the right to address petitions to Parliament on matters coming within the European Union’s fields of activity and directly affecting them. Petitions are examined by the committee responsible, which may decide to draw up a report or otherwise express an opinion.

European citizens may also address complaints concerning the activities of the European institutions and bodies to the European Ombudsman.

This summary is for information only. It is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document, which remains the only binding legal text.