The EU Committee is made up of seven committees: a 19-strong Select Committee, appointed by the House of Lords, and six sub-committees appointed by the Select Committee, each dealing with different policy areas.
The EU Select Committee oversees the work of the sub-committees, conducts cross-cutting inquiries into issues such as the impact of Brexit upon devolution within the UK, or the future of UK-EU relations. It conducts regular hearings with the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU 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 six sub-committees are:
The committees’ scrutiny work is underpinned by a "Scrutiny Reserve Resolution", which has been agreed by the House of Lords. According to this, the Government has undertaken not to agree to any EU proposal until the Committee has completed its consideration, or "cleared it from scrutiny".
In the course of scrutinising EU proposals, the committees engage in detailed correspondence with Ministers. The main objectives are to identify issues of legal or political significance, 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".
The committees also undertake inquiries into particularly important issues. These vary in length, but all rely on evidence presented by witnesses. Short inquiries may focus on a specific proposal, involving one or two public meetings at which invited witnesses appear in person. Longer inquiries involve the preparation of a public “call for evidence”, setting out a list of questions to which the committee seeks responses. In such cases committees are likely to receive a large amount of written evidence, and hold public meetings with witnesses, over a period of months, before preparing a report.
Evidence is almost always published in full, and public meetings are webcast live on www.parliamentlive.tv.
At the end of an inquiry the Committee normally publishes a report, containing wide-ranging conclusions and recommendations for action. Recommendations may be directed either to the Government or to other bodies, including the EU institutions.
The Government has undertaken to respond to recommendations within two months of any report being published; all responses are published online.
Since January 2019 the EU Committee and its sub-committees have been scrutinising international agreements, or treaties, that the Government has negotiated and laid before Parliament as part of its preparation for Brexit. You can track the Committee’s treaty work at:
Under the Treaty on European Union national parliaments have a specific role in monitoring proposed EU laws for compliance with the principle of "subsidiarity". This is the principle that action should only be taken at EU level if effective action cannot be taken at national, regional or local level. In other words, it is intended to ensure that decisions are taken as close to the citizen as possible. The EU Committee advises the House of Lords in this area.
The work of the seven EU Committees combined involves a total of 74 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 26, including specialist policy analysts and legal advisers, as well as clerks and administrators.