Ordinary legislative procedure

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The ordinary legislative procedure (before the Lisbon Treaty called co-decision procedure or co-decision procedure, originally procedures under Art. 189b of its place in the EC Treaty ) is now the most commonly applicable legislative procedure in the EU lawmaking . It is to be applied in almost all areas of EU legislation in which the Council of the European Union takes decisions with a qualified majority . The role of the European Parliament is particularly pronounced in the ordinary legislative procedure: According to this procedure, a legal act (e.g. directive or regulation ) cannot come into force without its consent . This also applies to the approval procedure , but only in the ordinary legislative procedure does the European Parliament have the right to pass formal amendments.

The co-decision procedure was first introduced in 1992 with the Maastricht Treaty for certain policy areas of the European Community (EC). It is the main procedure under the supranational community method .

Course of the procedure

The procedure itself is based on Article 294 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and includes up to three readings.

The European Commission has the sole right of initiative (the Treaties provide for exceptions to this principle) and proposes a legal act. This initiates the procedure.

The European Parliament (pursuant to Art. 225 TFEU ) and the Council of the European Union (pursuant to Art. 241 TFEU) can request the European Commission to propose a legal act. Such a request is also possible for EU citizens within the framework of a citizens' initiative ( Art. 11 EU Treaty and Art. 24 TFEU).

In addition to the procedural steps regulated in the treaties, a so-called informal trialogue , i.e. discussions between two members of the European Parliament , the President of the Council and the European Commission , can take place throughout the entire procedure .


Ordinary legislative procedure

First reading

The European Parliament (Parliament) deliberates on the Commission's legislative proposal and determines its position by a simple majority of the votes cast (without counting abstentions or absenteeism). This means that Parliament can either approve the proposal without any changes or make proposals for changes.

This is followed by the first reading in the Council of the European Union (Council). The latter can either adopt Parliament's position by a qualified majority decision or develop its own position. If he confirms Parliament's position, the procedure is ended and the act has been adopted.

If the Council has adopted its own position, it informs the European Parliament of the reasons for its decision. The Commission also sets its position on the matter. The positions of the Council and the Commission will be sent to Parliament for a second reading.

Second reading

Once the Council's position has been adopted and forwarded to Parliament, a three-month period for the second reading begins.

Parliament decides on the Council's position and has three options:

  1. Rejection (with an absolute majority of members): The act has failed . However, the Commission can present a fundamentally revised proposal (which starts a new procedure).
  2. Acceptance (with a simple majority of the votes cast) or no Decision: The act is amended by the standpoint adopted .
  3. Adoption of amendments (by an absolute majority of members).

If Parliament has decided on amendments, the matter is referred to the Council again. He can use the text as amended by Parliament

  1. approve within three months (the act would then be adopted ) or
  2. decline within three months or fail to take a decision within the deadline (in this case a mediation committee is convened).

The Council decides on the approval of the amendments proposed by Parliament by qualified majority . However, if the Commission has given a negative opinion on the amendments proposed by Parliament, the decision in the Council must be unanimous.

Mediation Committee

If the Council does not agree to Parliament's amended version, a Conciliation Committee will be convened. The procedure is similar to that between the German Bundestag and the Bundesrat .

The Conciliation Committee is composed equally of representatives from the Council and Parliament (the committee has twice as many members as the Union has member states ). The Commission also participates as an observer ( trialogue ). A decision must be made within six weeks. If there is no agreement, the legal act has failed . If an agreement is reached, the third reading will follow within six weeks .

Third reading

In the third reading, Parliament (with an absolute majority of the votes cast) and the Council (with a qualified majority ) vote on the result of the Conciliation Committee. If only one of the organs rejects the text or if only one of the organs does not take a decision within the six-week period, the legal act has failed , if it is confirmed by both, it is adopted .

History and areas of application

The procedure was first introduced by the Maastricht Treaty under the name of the co-decision procedure in Article 189b of the EC Treaty . At that time it only applied in a few areas, such as the research framework program and consumer policy. With the Treaties of Amsterdam and Nice , other areas were added, so that the procedure under the Treaty of Nice was applicable in more than half of all policy areas. The Amsterdam Treaty also simplified the process so that it could be carried out more quickly. Due to the renumbering of the treaty articles, it was now to be found in Article 251 of the EC Treaty.

With the Lisbon Treaty , the codecision procedure was given its new place in Article 294 of the TFEU; it was renamed "Ordinary Legislative Procedure" and the scope was further expanded. It is now to be applied in almost all areas of legislation in which a decision is made by qualified majority in the Council of the European Union .

Examples of the application of the ordinary legislative procedure are:

After the Council decides with a qualified majority in the ordinary legislative procedure , the Treaty of Lisbon provides for individual policy areas that individual members of the Council have the opportunity to refer a legislative procedure to the European Council by stating their reasons . This right is more or less a right of veto, since the legislative procedure will only be resumed once a consensus has been reached between all member states in the European Council .


In practice it has been shown that only a small part of the co-decision procedures - as the ordinary legislative procedure before the Lisbon Treaty was called - actually had to be resolved through a conciliation procedure - not least through the instrument of the informal trialogue . The absolute number of mediation procedures remained almost constant. In the period 1994–1999 there were an average of 12 conciliation procedures per year (which at that time corresponded to 40% of 30). In the parliamentary years 1999/2000 there were 17 (26% of 65), 2000/2001 20 (30% of 66), 2001/2002 17 (23% of 73) and 2002/2003 15 (17% of 87). Since 1999 and the entry into force of the Amsterdam Treaty, it has been possible to conclude the procedure at first reading. This option is also used: 1999/2000 in 13 cases (20%), 2000/2001 in 19 cases (29%), 2001/2002 also in 19 cases (26%) and 2002/2003 in 23 cases (27 %).

However, the ordinary legislative procedure or the co-decision procedure can also fail in the third reading - this happened for the first time in December 1994 with the procedure for the patentability of biotechnological inventions ( Rothley report ). In this case, the Commission has to come up with a new proposal and the process starts over.

See also

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