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Role

The European Union Committee of the House of Lords scrutinises the UK Government’s policies and actions in respect of the EU, including its conduct of negotiations on the UK-EU relationship, and its implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement that came into force on 31 January 2020; it considers EU policies and draft laws; and more generally represents the House of Lords in its dealings with the EU institutions and the 27 Member States.

Since April 2020 it has also, through its International Agreements Sub-Committee, had responsibility for scrutinising all new international agreements, or treaties, negotiated and concluded by the UK Government.

Organisation

The EU Committee is made up of six committees: a 19-strong Select Committee, appointed by the House of Lords, and five sub-committees appointed by the Select Committee.

The EU Select Committee oversees the work of the sub-committees, conducts cross-cutting work, and holds regular hearings with the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and other Ministers.

The sub-committees conduct inquiries looking at major issues of the day and scrutinise EU proposals in detail, asking questions and raising concerns in correspondence with UK Ministers. The five sub-committees are:

EU Environment Sub-Committee

The EU Environment Sub-Committee scrutinises the UK Government’s policies and actions in respect of EU policy and the Withdrawal Agreement as they relate to agriculture, climate change, the environment, food, fisheries, biosecurity and public health. It also considers the environmental aspects of the UK-EU level playing field.

Scrutiny

In the course of scrutinising EU documents, the committees seek to identify issues of legal or political significance for the United Kingdom, and to ensure that the Government's position is clearly and transparently put on the record. All correspondence is published on the committees' web-pages.

You can keep up to date with scrutiny work by visiting the Committee’s scrutiny webpage or consulting "Progress of Scrutiny".

Inquiries

The committees also undertake inquiries, drawing on evidence presented by witnesses. Such evidence is often submitted in writing, or the committees may hold public meetings with witnesses, before preparing a report.

Evidence is almost always published in full, and public meetings are webcast live on www.parliamentlive.tv.

Reports

At the end of an inquiry the Committee normally publishes a report, containing wide-ranging conclusions and recommendations for action.

Recommendations are normally directed to the Government.
The Government has undertaken to respond to recommendations within two months of any report being published; all responses are published online.

Reports are also in most cases debated by the House of Lords.

People

The work of the six EU Committees combined involves a total of 62 members of the House of Lords. These include former MPs and Members of the European Parliament, and many others with wide-ranging experience of private sector, public sector and voluntary work. The Chair of the EU Select Committee, currently Lord Kinnoull, is a full-time salaried officer of the House of Lords.

The committees are supported by a total staff complement of 24, including specialist policy analysts and legal advisers, as well as clerks and administrators.

Further information