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European Union Legal Materials

Legislative Process

Five EU institutions are involved in the legislative process: the Commission , the Council of the European Union , the Parliament , the Committee of the Regions, and the Economic and Social Committee. The Commission, the Council and the Parliament are primarily involved in enacting legislation. The Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions serve in a consultative role.

The main decision making process in the EU is called Ordinary Legislative Procedure. Ordinary Legislative Procedure takes the place of "Co-decision" which was the main vehicle by which EU decisions were made prior to December 2009 and the Treaty of Lisbon.

The main elements of the procedure include:

  1. Submission of legislative proposal
  2. Adoption of legislative proposal (first or second reading)
  3. Convening of conciliation committee IF no agreement is reached in the second reading
  4. Adoption of legislative act in the third reading

An outline of the ordinary legislative procedure is available on the European Parliament website.

There are five types of EU legislation:

  1. Regulation, a binding legislative act, applicable to all EU countries and requires no further action to have legal effect.
  2. Directive, sets a goal all EU countries must achieve, but the countries may choose the method by which to achieve that goal. 
  3. Decision, binding on those parties to whom they are addressed.
  4. Recommendation, allows institutions to make their views known and suggest actions without imposing legal obligations (not binding).
  5. Opinion, allows institutions to make a statement without imposing any legal obligations. (not binding).