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Glossary

Committees and working parties

The committees, whose task it is to assist the Community institutions, are involved at all stages of the legislative process. The Commission regularly consults committees of experts before drawing up a new proposal for legislation. These committees, which are made up of representatives of stakeholders, private sector or national government experts, ensure that the Commission remains open to the concerns of those who will be affected by the legislation. It covers all European Union areas of action.

The Council is also assisted by committees and working parties which prepare its decisions. The existence of certain committees is provided for in the treaties (Committee of Internal Security, Article 71 of the Treaty on European Union). Others are ad hoc committees such as the Cultural Affairs Committee, which evaluates proposals on cultural cooperation, prepares the Council discussions and follows up action taken. These committees are made up of representatives of the Member States plus one member of the Commission. In parallel, various working parties do the preparatory work for Coreper. While some of them are set up on a temporary basis to deal with a particular dossier, about a hundred groups cover a given sector and meet regularly.

When a legislative text has been adopted, it lays down the general principles to be complied with. More precise implementing measures may be necessary to apply these principles. In this case, the text provides that a committee is to be set up within the Commission in order to take the appropriate decisions. These committees are made up of experts nominated by the Member States and chaired by the Commission, and are generally governed by rules established by the July 2006 Council decision known as the 'Comitology Decision'. In particular, these committees are in the fields of industry, social affairs, agriculture, the environment, the internal market, research and development, consumer protection and food safety.

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