During the 1990s its relatively low importance led to its being referred to unfavourably by MEPs as the "Cinderella committee". However, since then the committee's powers have increased. The co-decision procedure for legislation, which grants greater powers to the Parliament, has been extended to more policy areas. Notably, the areas covered by this committee were the main recipients of these new powers. The rising importance of the issues it deals with (for example, global warming) has also meant that it has become one of the most important committees in Parliament. The committee's open sessions, as well as constituting a major forum within the Parliament, are usually well attended by both business lobbyists and representatives from environmental NGOs.
The committee is responsible for:
1. environmental policy and environmental protection measures, in particular concerning:
- (a) climate change,
- (b) air, soil and water pollution, waste management and recycling, dangerous substances and preparations, noise levels and the protection of biodiversity,
- (c) sustainable development,
- (d) international and regional measures and agreements aimed at protecting the environment,
- (e) restoration of environmental damage,
- (f) civil protection,
- (g) the European Environment Agency,
- (h) the European Chemicals Agency;
2. public health, in particular:
3. food safety issues, in particular:
- (a) the labelling and safety of foodstuffs,
- (b) veterinary legislation concerning protection against risks to human health; public health checks on foodstuffs and food production systems,
- (c) the European Food Safety Authority and the European Food and Veterinary Office.
- ^  List of Members of the ENVI Committee of the European Parliament
- ^ Hoskyns, Catherine; Michael Newman (2000). Democratizing the European Union: Issues for the twenty-first Century (Perspectives on Democratization. Manchester University Press. ISBN 978-0-7190-5666-6.
- ^  Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament, ANNEX V: POWERS AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF STANDING COMMITTEES