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Parliament’s committees of inquiry and special committees

Written by Eva-Maria Poptcheva,

Parliament's committees of inquiry and special committees

© European Union, 2016 (European Parliament Audiovisual Service)

The European Parliament has recently been making increasing use of its investigative instruments – special and inquiry committees. The TAXE Committee, established in the aftermath of the ‘LuxLeaks’ scandal to look into unfair tax practices in the EU, was followed by the TAXE 2 special committee on tax rulings. The EMIS committee of inquiry is looking into emission measurements in the automotive sector. The recently revealed ‘Panama papers’ prompted a new committee of inquiry on tax havens.

Parliament’s right of inquiry is an important instrument for the exercise of its control functions. Its investigative powers, however, fall short of the powers of committees of inquiry in national parliaments, which have quasi-judicial investigative tools at their disposal.

Committees of inquiry are limited to examinations of alleged contraventions and maladministration in the implementation of EU law, thus excluding evidence-gathering about general subjects and inquiries into actions by third-country authorities. ‘Special committees’, on the other hand, can be set up for any parliamentary inquiry and have thus been used more often by Parliament. Although they are not equipped with formal powers, special committees conduct their work using the same investigative mechanisms as committees of inquiry.

The Lisbon Treaty conferred on Parliament the power to propose and adopt a binding regulation on the inquiry rules.

Please click here for the full publication ‘Parliament’s committees of inquiry and special committees‘ in PDF format.

Differences and similarities between committees of inquiry and special committees

Differences and similarities between committees of inquiry and special committees

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The content of all documents (and articles) contained in this blog is the sole responsibility of the author and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily represent the official position of the European Parliament. It is addressed to the Members and staff of the EP for their parliamentary work. Reproduction and translation for non-commercial purposes are authorised, provided the source is acknowledged and the European Parliament is given prior notice and sent a copy. Copyright © European Union, 2014. All rights reserved

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