The parliamentary committees are working bodies of the Chambers of Parliament, playing an important part in the preparation of the proceedings, as well as in the exercise of the parliamentary functions, particularly of the legislative and control ones.
In the Romanian parliamentary system, according to the Constitution, the Chambers may constitute standing committees, temporary inquiry committees, or other special committees. Likewise, joint committees may be constituted for the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. All these committees are formed in accordance with the political configuration of each Chamber.
The sittings of the parliamentary committees are not public; exceptionally, however, these committees may decide to invite representatives of the press at their debates. Likewise, the committees may decide the conditions under which their proceedings may be broadcast, unless this impairs certain state interests implying the secrecy of these debates.
In Parliament's activity, the standing committees play an important part, as they are elected for the duration of the mandate of the Chambers of Parliament. In order that the activity of these committees be useful and efficient, they are specialized by domains of activity such as: economics and finance, foreign affairs, science and education, etc.
The standing committees of the Chambers of Parliament are composed of a number of Deputies and Senators established by the Chamber. At the proposal of its Standing Bureau, each Chamber also settles for each separate standing committee the number of seats devolving upon each parliamentary group, or upon the independent Deputies.
The members of the standing committees are elected by each Chamber, in accordance with the political configuration of the Chamber. Nominations are proposed by the parliamentary groups within the limit of the seats resulting from the observance of the political configuration of the Chamber. The leaders of the parliamentary groups appoint, by mutual consent, the members of the committees.
One Deputy can belong only to a single standing committee, except Deputies who form the Standing Bureau of the Chamber of Deputies.
Each Senator is compelled to belong to a standing committee. The Standing Orders of the Senate allow a Senator to belong to two standing committees. The President of the Senate and the Senators who also have the quality of members of Government cannot be members of the standing committees over the duration of the exercise of these functions.
Over the duration of the mandate, the Deputies and Senators may change their option for a committee, by soliciting their designation in another standing committee.
A member of a standing committee is superseded at the proposal of the parliamentary group to which he or she belongs, and with the approval of the respective Chamber.
The proceedings of the standing committees of the Chambers are conducted by a bureau. The bureaux of the standing committees of the Chamber of Deputies are composed of one chairman, 2 vice-chairmen, and 2 secretaries, and the bureaux of the standing committees of the Senate are composed of one chairman, 1-2 vice-chairmen, and 1-2 secretaries. The members of the bureaux of the standing committees are elected by these committees at the beginning of each ordinary parliamentary session, in their first sitting.
In the Chamber of Deputies there are the following standing committees:
- the Committee for Economic Policy Reform, and Privatization;
- the Committee for Budget, Finance, and, Banks;
- the Committee for Industries and Services;
- the Committee for Agriculture, Forestry, Food Industry and Specific Services;
- the Committee for Human Rights, Cults, and National Minorities Issues;
- the Committee for Public Administration Territorial Planning, and Ecological Balance;
- the Committee for Labour and Social Protection;
- the Committee for Health and Family;
- the Committee for Education, Science, Youth, and Sport;
- the Committee for Culture, Arts, Mass Information Means;
- the Committee for Legal Matters, Discipline, and Immunities;
- the Committee for Defence Public Order, and National Security;
- the Committee for Foreign Policy;
- the Committee for the Investigation of Abuses, Corrupt Practices, and for Petitions.
In the Senate there are the following standing committees:
- the Committee for Economy;
- the Committee for Privatization;
- the Committee for Budget and Finance;
- the Committee for Agriculture, Food Industry, and Forestry;
- the Committee for Foreign Policy;
- the Committee for Defence, Public Order, and National Security;
- the Committee for Human Rights;
- the Committee for Labour, Social Protection, and the Unemployment Issues;
- the Committee for Education and Scientific Research;
- the Committee for Culture, Arts, and Mass Information Means;
- the Committee for Public Administration, and Territorial Planning;
- the Committee for Legal Matters Appointments, Discipline, Immunities, and Validations;
- the Committee for the Investigation of Abuses, and for Petitions;
- the Committee for Health, Ecology, and Sport;
The composition of the standing committees' bureaux of the Chamber of Deputies and of the Senate is settled in each case separately, depending on the political configuration of the respective Chamber, and on the negotiations between the representatives of the parliamentary groups.
In the main, the bureau of each standing committee proposes the agenda of the sittings, which it submits for approval to the members of the committee; it proposes the draft of the operation rules of the committee; it establishes the tasks devolving upon the members of the committee; it adopts decisions in matters regarding the good progress of the committee s activity; if necessary, it constitutes subcommittees, in which case it designates the object of their activity, their composition and leadership.
The chairmen of the bureaux conduct the sittings of the committee, ensure the representation of the committee in its relations with the Government, with the Standing Bureau of the Chamber, and with the other committees. The vice-chairmen of the bureaux fulfil the chairmen's duties in their absence. The secretaries of the bureaux ensure the drawing up of the committee's deeds, and carry out the counting of the votes expressed.
The main task of the standing committees consists in the examination of the bills, of the legislative proposals and amendments, with a view to elaborating the reports or advisory opinions regarding the respective bill or legislative proposal.
Likewise, the standing committees may carry out parliamentary inquiries, or may debate and decide on other issues sent to them by the Standing Bureau of the respective Chamber.
Any standing committee of the Chamber of Deputies or of the Senate may initiate, with the approval of the respective Chamber, within the framework of its competence, an inquiry regarding the activity carried out by the Government or by the public administration.
The standing committees may invite interested persons, as well as specialists on behalf of certain public authorities or other specialized institutions, to participate in their sittings. Ministers have access to the proceedings of the committees. If requested, the ministers' participation is obligatory.
Both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate may constitute special committees charged with the issue of advisory opinions on complex bills, or the elaboration of legislative proposals, or with other purposes indicated in the setting-up decision of the committee. The same decision will precisely state the names of the Deputies or Senators, as the case may be, composing the committee, as well as the term by which the committee's report is to be handed in. These committees have the same statute as the standing committees.
The inquiry committees are constituted for the exercise of the parliamentary control over the Government and over the other bodies of the public administration. Each Chamber may set up an inquiry committee, at the request of one third of its members.
With a view to settling certain issues of mutual interest, the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate may elect joint committees, which may be permanent or temporary. The setting-up decisions of such joint committees must specify: the organization and operation of the committee, its duties, the working procedure, and, in case the committee is temporary, the period for which it has been constituted.
If one of the Chambers adopts a bill or a legislative proposal in a different drafting than that approved by the other Chamber, the Presidents of the Chambers initiate the mediation procedure, through the agency of the mediation committee.
The mediation committee is composed of 7 Deputies and 7 Senators, designated by the Standing Bureaux, at the proposal of the parliamentary groups. The committee meets at the convocation of the chairman of the committee informed of the matter by the Chamber which was the last to adopt the bill, and establishes the working rules and the term by which it shall present its report. The proceedings of the committee are conducted, by turns, by a Deputy or a Senator, appointed by the members of the committee. Decisions are taken by a majority of the members, and, in case of parity, the vote of the chairman who conducts the sitting in the moment of voting is decisive.
The report of the mediation committee is submitted for approval to each Chamber.