Technical or Political? An Exploration of the Work of Officials in the Committees of the European Parliament


In conjunction with the gradual empowerment of the European Parliament, interest in its internal politics and in particular its committee system has increased considerably. While much has been learned about the influence of parliamentarians, little is known of the role of their unelected supporters. Although the literature indicates that officials are involved in the policy process, it remains open to question whether their work is fundamentally technical or of relevance to public policy. In a first step towards closing this gap in the literature, this paper explores the role of officials working in the secretariats of European Parliament committees. Although officials are involved in both secretarial and political work, their role is constrained by their position in the parliamentary hierarchy. This supports a cautious understanding of the autonomy and influence of bureaucracy in the Parliament and in the European Union’s main institutions.

The Journal of Legislative Studies
Thomas Winzen
Thomas Winzen
Political Scientist

Political scientist interested in institutions and legitimate governance