This article investigates both the operation and the democratic legitimacy of the European Union committee system. This vast but rarely studied system is an important site of European governance, exercising an increasing amount of policy responsibility while also providing the essential arenas necessary for supranational problem solving. Despite their contribution to the success of the “European project,” committees are increasingly coming under attack, notably for their lack of democratic credentials. The article employs original empirical research based on interviews and internal documentary evidence to answer a timely question: does the EU committee system strike an appropriate balance between the values of system effectiveness and democratic legitimacy? Following the application of a set of democratic principles to EU committees, the article finds that a poor balance has been struck between effectiveness and democracy. The article concludes with some operational suggestions for improving this balance in the short-to-medium term.