Committees act within the framework of the orders issued to them by the Landtag. Within their remit, they may deal with a matter on their own initiative and submit recommendations to Landtag (right of initiate). With the consent of the Presiding Committee, they may form sub-committees from among their members to prepare their decisions. For certain tasks, the Landtag may appoint special committees. With the exception of the Petitions Committee and any Committees of Investigation which may be set up, the committees in the Brandenburg Landtag generally meet in public.
Determining which committees are formed with which areas of responsibility is largely not regulated by law. The parliament therefore has considerable leeway in this matter. The thematic structure of the committees’ work essentially follows the division of the government’s work among the individual departments. Accordingly, the Committee for Internal and Municipal Affairs thus follows the subject-matter competence of the Ministry of the Interior, the Committee for Education, Youth and Sport is based on the remit of the ministry of the same name, etc.
The Main Committee is traditionally accorded a prominent role. It is in charge of constitutional issues, federal affairs, the organisation of relations between Brandenburg and Berlin as well as media policy; it also deals with other fundamental political matters, tasks assigned to it by law as well as procedural matters of a fundamental nature.
The Petitions Committee, which examines all petitions in accordance with the Petitions Act, is a special point of contact for the residents of Brandenburg. The right of petition under Article 24 of the Brandenburg constitution is a right of political participation for citizens, enabling them to approach the parliament jointly or individually with ideas, criticism or complaints. Every person is entitled to petition, irrespective of age and nationality. The Petitions Committee, as the “citizen’s advocate”, can review official decisions and, if necessary, seek their amendment, annulment or enactment. However, these are merely recommendations, since the Committee has no right to issue instructions to authorities.
In addition, the legislature expressly prescribes the Committee for Scrutiny of Elections, which examines the validity of the elections to the Landtag in the event of objections or following a motion.
Overview of the standing committees in the 7th electoral term of the Landtag Brandenburg:
- Main Committee
- Petitions Committee
- Committee for Internal and Municipal Affairs
- Committee for Legal Affairs
- Committee for Education, Youth and Sport
- Committee for Science, Research and Culture
- Committee for Social Affairs, Health, Integration and
- Committee for Economic Affairs, Work and Energy
- Committee for Agriculture, Environment and Climate Protection
- Committee for Infrastructure and Regional Planning
- Committee for Budget and Finance
- Committee for Budgetary Control
- Committee for European Affairs and Development Policy
- Committee for Scrutiny of Elections
The sharpest “weapon” of parliamentary control is the right of the Landtag to set up a Committee of Investigation if required. Its task is to investigate matters the clarification of which is in the public interest. Members of Committees of Investigation can question witnesses and have the right of unrestricted access to files.