Committees of inquiry

People in Paul Löbe Building in Berlin

Paul Löbe Building in Berlin (German Bundestag/Unger)

Under Article 44(1) of the Basic Law, the Bundestag has the right, and on the motion of one quarter of its Members the duty, to establish a committee of inquiry. In general, the creation of a committee of inquiry is for the purpose of investigating actual or alleged deficiencies within the executive branch. The committee can demand that documents be released and question witnesses and experts at public hearings.

The Defence Committee has a special status as the only committee with the right to convene as a committee of inquiry (Article 45a (2) of the Basic Law).

Upon completion of its investigation, the committee of inquiry compiles a final report. This communicates the course of the procedure, the facts discovered and the results of the investigation. The report is adopted by decision of the committee of inquiry. Assessments that diverge from the prevailing opinion are included in the report in the form of dissenting opinions. The report is presented to the President of the German Bundestag and a plenary debate is held on it. It is distributed as a Bundestag printed paper and is publicly accessible.