A view of one of the committee rooms © German Bundestag/ Unger
A large proportion of the work done in Parliament goes on in the permanent committees, each of which is formed by a decision of the Bundestag for the duration of the whole electoral term.
The permanent committees are quite distinct from other bodies of the Bundestag with which they are sometimes confused, such as the Mediation Committee, the Joint Committee and committees of inquiry. In the 17th electoral term, the Bundestag has set up 22 permanent committees. They are made up of Members from the various parliamentary groups in line with their relative strengths in Parliament.
A committee is a forum in which Members are able to concentrate on a single, specialised area of policy. They deliberate on all bills that will have an impact in this field before any decision is taken and attempt to find a compromise at the committee stage that is capable of commanding majority support in the plenary.
The committees obtain information from the government and expert witnesses in order to learn more about the background to the issues on which they have to deliberate.