European Union legislation

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As an independent organization with legal personality , the European Union also has its own legislative powers in the form of legal acts (in contrast to the EU treaties, also called secondary Union law ). They are divided into legislative acts and non-legislative acts .

Legislation is based on a legislative procedure similar to that in most democratic states, in which the European Parliament takes part as the representative of the people and the Council of the European Union as the representation of the member states ( chamber of states ). A distinction is made between the ordinary legislative procedure , which makes up most of the legislative acts, and the special legislative procedure , which is only used in exceptional cases.

Types of Legislative Acts

According to Art. 288 Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), EU legal acts are divided into:

  • Ordinances (general regulation with direct domestic validity; would correspond to a law in national law)
  • Directives (general regulation to be implemented by the member states into national law within a certain period of time; it is binding with regard to the goal, but leaves the member states the choice of form and means)
  • Resolutions (binding regulation in individual cases; a decision is only binding for the addressees specified therein; would correspond to an administrative act under national law )
  • Recommendations and opinions (not legally binding)

Right of initiative

The European Commission has generally the sole right of initiative for legislative acts. The European Parliament (according to Art. 225 TFEU ) and the Council of the European Union (according to Art. 241 TFEU) can, however, ask the European Commission to propose a legal act, whereupon it has to deliver at least one opinion. 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 a binding declaration from 2010, the parliamentarians agreed with the commission to provide the applicable European legal provisions with an aid to interpretation, so that in future, at the initiative of parliament, the commission must submit a draft law within twelve months or justify it in detail within three months why she doesn't. Thus, for the first time, the European Parliament has at least a limited right of initiative.

In the Member States too, the lion's share of legislation is prepared in the governments. As in the EU, only those regulations that are approved by Parliament become law. An independent right of initiative would be the keystone in the institutional set-up of the EU Parliament.

Ordinary legislative procedure

The ordinary legislative procedure ( Art 294th TFEU ; formerly co-decision , also co-decision procedure , Code: COD ) is the now most important legislative procedure. Here the parliament has a full right of co-determination and can also prevent a legal act. In the event of disagreements between the Council and Parliament, a conciliation committee is planned.

List of policy areas with due legislative procedure  
  1. Services of general economic interest (Article 14 TFEU)
  2. Details of the right of access to documents (Article 15 (3) TFEU)
  3. Protection of personal data (Article 16 (2) TFEU)
  4. Measures to combat discrimination based on nationality (Article 18 TFEU)
  5. Basic principles for support measures in the area of ​​non-discrimination (Article 19 (2) TFEU)
  6. Provisions to facilitate the exercise of the right of Union citizens to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States (Article 21 (2) TFEU)
  7. European citizens' initiative (Article 24 TFEU)
  8. Customs cooperation (Article 33 TFEU)
  9. Application of the competition rules to the common agricultural policy (Article 42 TEU with reference to Article 43 (2) TFEU)
  10. Legislation in the field of the common agricultural policy (Article 43 (2) TFEU)
  11. Free movement of workers (Article 46 TFEU)
  12. EU single market - social security measures for workers moving in and out of the Community (Article 48 TFEU)
  13. Right of establishment (Article 50 (1) TFEU)
  14. Exclusion of certain activities from the scope of the provisions on the right of establishment in a Member State (Article 51, second subparagraph TFEU)
  15. Coordination of laws, regulations and administrative provisions which provide for special rules for nationals from other Member States when exercising the right of establishment (Article 52 (2) TFEU)
  16. Coordination of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States with regard to access and exercise of self-employed activities and the mutual recognition of diplomas (Article 53 (1) TFEU)
  17. Extending the enjoyment of the provision of services to nationals of third countries residing within the Union. (Article 56, second subparagraph, TFEU)
  18. Liberalization of services in certain areas (Article 59 (1) TFEU)
  19. Services (Article 62 TFEU)
  20. Establishing further measures related to capital movements with third countries (Article 64 (2) TFEU)
  21. Administrative measures related to capital movements in the field of preventing and combating crime and terrorism (Article 75 TFEU)
  22. Visas, controls at external borders, conditions under which third-country nationals can move freely, securing external borders, abolition of controls at internal borders (Article 7 (2) TFEU)
  23. Asylum, temporary protection or subsidiary protection status for persons (Article 78 (2) TFEU)
  24. Immigration and the fight against trafficking in human beings (Article 79 (2) TFEU)
  25. Funding measures to support the integration of third-country nationals (Article 79 (4) TFEU)
  26. Judicial cooperation in civil matters (except family law) (Article 81 (2) TFEU)
  27. Judicial cooperation in criminal matters - procedure, cooperation, further training, conflicts of jurisdiction, minimum requirements for the mutual recognition of judgments (Article 82 (1) and (2) TFEU)
  28. Minimum rules for determining criminal offenses and penalties in areas of particularly serious cross-border crime (Article 83 (1) and, if applicable, (2) TFEU)
  29. Promotional measures in the field of crime prevention (Article 84 TFEU)
  30. Eurojust (Article 85 (1), second subparagraph TFEU)
  31. Details of the involvement of the European Parliament and the national parliaments in the evaluation of the work of Eurojust (Article 85 (1), third subparagraph TFEU)
  32. Police cooperation (certain aspects) (Article 87 (2) TFEU)
  33. Europol (Article 88 (2), first subparagraph TFEU)
  34. Details of the control of Europol's activities by the European Parliament and the national parliaments (Article 88 (2), second subparagraph TFEU)
  35. Implementation of the common transport policy (Article 91 (1) TFEU)
  36. Maritime and Aviation (Article 100 (2) TFEU)
  37. Measures to approximate national laws, regulations and administrative provisions relating to the establishment or functioning of the internal market with a view to promoting the achievement of the objectives of Article 26 (Article 114 (1) TFEU)
  38. Measures to remove distortions and distortions of the internal market (Article 116 TFEU)
  39. Intellectual property of European legal titles without language regulations (Article 118, first subparagraph TFEU)
  40. Multilateral surveillance (Article 121 (6) TFEU)
  41. Amendment to the Protocol to the Statute of the ESCB and the ECB (Article 129 (3) TFEU)
  42. Measures necessary for the use of the euro (Article 133 TFEU)
  43. Employment incentive measures (Article 149 TFEU)
  44. Social policy (Article 153 (1), with the exception of letters c) d) f) and g), and 2 first, second and last subparagraphs TFEU)
  45. Social policy (equal opportunities, equality in labor and employment issues, equal pay) (Article 157 (3) TFEU)
  46. European Social Fund (Article 164 TFEU)
  47. Education (except recommendations) (Article 165 (4) (a) TFEU)
  48. Sport (Article 165 (2) (g) and (4) TFEU)
  49. Vocational training (Article 166 (4) TFEU)
  50. Culture (except for the recommendations) (Article 167 (5), first indent TFEU)
  51. Public health - measures to address common public health safety concerns (Article 168 (4) TFEU)
  52. Public health - measures to promote the protection of human health, in particular the fight against widespread serious cross-border diseases and the use of tobacco and alcohol (Article 168 (5) TFEU)
  53. Consumer protection (Article 169 (3) TFEU)
  54. Trans-European Networks (Article 172 TFEU)
  55. Industry (Article 173 (3) TFEU)
  56. Actions in the field of economic and social cohesion (Article 175, third subparagraph TFEU)
  57. Structural Funds (Article 177, first subparagraph TFEU)
  58. Cohesion Fund (Article 177, second subparagraph TFEU)
  59. European Regional Development Fund (Article 178 TFEU)
  60. Research framework program (Article 182 (1) TFEU)
  61. Realization of the European Research Area (Article 182 (5) TFEU)
  62. Implementation of the research framework program : rules for the participation of companies and for the dissemination of research results (Articles 183 and 188, second subparagraph, TFEU)
  63. Additional research programs for certain Member States (Articles 184 and 188 subparagraph 2 TFEU)
  64. Participation in research programs of several Member States (Articles 185 and 188, second subparagraph, TFEU)
  65. Space policy (Article 189 TFEU)
  66. Environment (Community measures to achieve the corresponding objectives, except for provisions of a tax nature) (Article 192 (1) TFEU)
  67. Action program in the environmental field (Article 192 (3) TFEU)
  68. Energy with the exception of tax measures (Article 194 (2) TFEU)
  69. Tourism - measures to complement measures in the Member States (Article 195 (2) TFEU)
  70. Civil protection to prevent natural or man-made disasters (Article 196 (2) TFEU)
  71. Administrative cooperation for the implementation of Union law by the Member States (Article 197 (2) TFEU)
  72. Trade policy - implementing measures (Article 207 (2) TFEU)
  73. Development cooperation (Article 209 (1) TFEU)
  74. Economic, financial and technical cooperation with third countries (Article 212 (2) TFEU)
  75. General framework for action in the field of humanitarian aid (Article 214 (3) TFEU)
  76. European Voluntary Corps for Humanitarian Aid (Article 214 (5) TFEU)
  77. Statute of political parties at European level and rules on their funding (Article 224 TFEU)
  78. Establishment of specialized courts (Article 257 TFEU)
  79. Amendment to the Statute of the Court of Justice with the exception of Title I and Article 64 (Article 281 TFEU)
  80. Modalities for the control of implementing powers (Article 291 (3) TFEU)
  81. European administration (Article 298 (2) TFEU)
  82. Establishment of the Financial Regulation (Article 322 (1) TFEU)
  83. Combating fraud affecting the Union's financial interests (Article 325 (4) TFEU)
  84. Staff Regulations and Conditions of Employment of Other Servants of the Union (Article 336 TFEU)
  85. Statistics (Article 338 (1) TFEU)
  1. This procedure is equipped with an "emergency braking" mechanism: If a Member State believes that these measures affect fundamental aspects of its social security system, in particular its scope, costs or financial structure, or its financial balance, it can request that that the European Council is referred to the matter (which leads to the suspension of the legislative procedure). The European Council must refer the question back to the Council within four months for the procedure to continue or ask the Commission to submit a new proposal.
  2. Paragraph 3 of this article also provides for the possibility for the Council to take a decision defining the aspects of family law with cross-border implications which may be the subject of acts adopted under the ordinary legislative procedure.
  3. Paragraphs 3 and 4 of these articles contain an "emergency braking" mechanism: If a member state is of the opinion that a corresponding draft law would affect fundamental aspects of its criminal law, it can request that the question be referred back to the European Council and the proceedings suspended becomes. The European Council must refer the matter back to the Council within four months so that the procedure can continue, or ask the Commission or the group of Member States that presented the draft to submit a new draft law. If the European Council has not taken a corresponding decision within four months, or if the new legislative procedure initiated at its request has not been completed within twelve months, enhanced cooperation in this area will automatically be established if at least one third of the Member States so wish.
  4. In the areas foreseen in these points, the legislation is adopted by the Council by unanimous vote after consulting the EP. However, the last sub-paragraph of paragraph 2 contains a “transitional clause”, according to which the Council can unanimously decide that the ordinary legislative procedure applies to paragraph 1 letters d), f) and g).

Special legislative procedure

The special legislative procedure only takes place in the (rare) cases explicitly provided for in the treaties. The exact procedure is specified in the respective legal basis and is usually based on the options listed below. According to Art. 289 TFEU , the Council of the European Union, with the participation of the European Parliament, or, exceptionally, the European Parliament with the participation of the Council of the European Union alone, decides . The most important procedures are the consultation procedure and the consent procedure.

List of policy areas with special legislative procedures  

I - ad hoc procedure

  1. Annual budget - EP joint decision - Council (Article 314 TFEU)

II - Sole acts of the European Parliament

  1. Statute for Members of the European Parliament (Article 223 (2) TFEU): Decision of the European Parliament on its own initiative after the consent of the Council (unanimously on the tax regime) and after consulting the Commission
  2. Details of the exercise of the right of inquiry (Article 226, third subparagraph TFEU): Decision of the European Parliament on its own initiative with the consent of the Council and the Commission
  3. Statute of the Ombudsman (Article 228 (4) TFEU): EP decision on its own initiative with the consent of the Council and the opinion of the Commission

III - Sole acts of the Council

A. Unanimity and approval of the European Parliament (AVC)
  1. Measures to combat discrimination (Article 19 (1) TFEU)
  2. Extension of citizenship rights (Article 25 TFEU) - national ratification required
  3. European Public Prosecutor's Office (Article 86 (1) TFEU)
  4. Single electoral procedure (Article 223 (1) TFEU): on the initiative and with the consent of the EP - national ratification required
  5. Multiannual financial framework (Article 312 (2) TFEU)
B. Unanimity and consultation of the European Parliament (CNS)
  1. Article 6 TEU (with Article 218 (6) and (8)): Accession to the ECHR - decision of the Council on the proposal of the negotiator of the agreement (in principle the Commission), with the consent of the EP
  2. Measures related to social security or social protection (Article 21 (3) TFEU)
  3. Nationality: right to vote and stand for election in local elections and in elections to the European Parliament in the Member State of residence (Article 22 TFEU)
  4. Determination of measures that represent a step backwards under Union law for the liberalization of capital movements with third countries (Article 64 (3) TFEU)
  5. Measures related to passports, identity cards and residence permits (Article 77 (3) TFEU)
  6. Judicial cooperation in civil matters in relation to family law measures with cross-border implications (Article 81 (3) TFEU)
  7. Operational police cooperation (Article 87 (3) TFEU)
  8. Action by the authorities of one Member State on the territory of another Member State (Article 89 TFEU)
  9. Harmonization of sales taxes and indirect taxes (Article 113 TFEU)
  10. Approximation of rules that have a direct impact on the internal market (Article 115 TFEU)
  11. Language regime for European legal titles (Article 118 TFEU)
  12. Replacement of the Excessive Deficit Protocol (Article 126 (14) TFEU)
  13. Specific tasks of the European Central Bank in connection with the supervision of credit institutions and other financial institutions (Article 127 (6) TFEU)
  14. Social policy: social security and social protection of workers, protection of workers upon termination of the employment contract, representation and collective protection of the interests of workers and employers and terms and conditions of employment of nationals of third countries (Article 153, paragraph 1, letters c), d), f) and g) and paragraph 2 letter b) TFEU)
  15. Environment: tax law provisions, spatial planning measures, management of water resources and land use as well as measures that affect energy supply and the various energy sources (Article 192 (2) TFEU)
  16. Energy: tax measures (Article 194 (3) TFEU)
  17. Association of the overseas countries and territories with the Union - procedure and details (Article 203 TFEU - with consultation of EP)
  18. Case law of the Court of Justice on intellectual property (Article 262 TFEU)
  19. Amendment to the Protocol on the Statute of the European Investment Bank (Article 308, third subparagraph)
  20. Union own resources - ceiling and introduction of new categories of own resources (Article 311, third subparagraph TFEU) - national ratification required
C. Qualified majority and approval of the EP (AVC)
  1. Implementing measures on the system of the Union's own resources (Article 311, fourth subparagraph, TFEU)
D. Qualified majority and consultation of the EP (CNS)
  1. Measures to facilitate diplomatic protection (Article 23 TFEU - Adoption of directives with special legislative procedure)
  2. Research: Specific programs for the implementation of the Framework Program (Article 182 (4) TFEU)
  3. Outermost regions (Article 349, second subparagraph TFEU)
  1. After consulting the EP, the Council can unanimously decide to switch to the ordinary legislative procedure (second subparagraph of paragraph 3 of Article 81 TFEU).
  2. After consulting the EP, the Council can unanimously decide to move to the ordinary legislative procedure for letters d), f) and g) (Article 153 (2), second subparagraph TFEU).

Approval procedure (AVC)

The approval procedure (code: AVC ) was introduced with the Single European Act and gives Parliament the option of approving or refusing to approve certain Commission proposals. Parliament has a right of veto in these areas , but cannot change the proposals. After Parliament has given its approval, the Council will decide whether to accept the proposal, by a qualified majority or, where expressly provided for, unanimously . However, he can also amend the Commission's proposal by unanimous decision .

The procedure was originally intended only for the conclusion of association agreements or the examination of applications for accession to the European Community and is currently used in the following areas, for example:

Consultation procedure (CNS)

The consultation or hearing procedure (code: CNS ) is only used in rare cases that are not expressly subject to the consent procedure or the ordinary legislative procedure. It was the original legislative process of the European Communities .

Following a proposal from the Commission and the opinion of the European Parliament and, if applicable, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions , the Council decides on the adoption of the proposal, by a qualified majority , with each Council member for "essential reasons of national policy, which it also must call “can veto (Art. 31 para. 2, subparagraph 2 TEU). Under this procedure, Parliament can approve or reject a legislative proposal or propose amendments to it. The Council is not legally bound by Parliament's opinion, but according to the case law of the Court of Justice it cannot take a decision until Parliament has given its opinion. This gives him a certain right of veto.

Former procedure: Cooperation procedure (SYN)

The cooperation procedure (Code SYN, most recently regulated in Art. 252 of the EC Treaty ) gave the European Parliament, when it was introduced by the Single European Act, for the first time the opportunity to not only take part in the legislative process in an advisory capacity. Parliament can amend the Council's common position; unlike the co-decision procedure, however, ultimately the Council alone decides.

Under the Amsterdam Treaty , the procedure was intended for certain areas of economic and monetary union . The cooperation procedure was completely abolished in the Lisbon Treaty .

Legal acts without legal character

In addition to legislative acts, the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union also includes non-legislative acts. Like delegated acts and implementing acts, these are based on legislative acts or directly on the Treaties.

Delegated acts

In order to reduce the flood of detailed legislative acts, the Lisbon Treaty provides for the creation of delegated acts. In legislative acts, the Council and Parliament can authorize the Commission to adopt delegated acts ( Art. 290 TFEU ). These correspond roughly to the German statutory ordinances . These delegated acts can lead to the addition or amendment of non-essential points of the legislative act.

Even in the case of delegated legislation, the actual legislative bodies retain the right to

  • to withdraw the power of the Commission or
  • object to the Commission's decision within a reasonable period of time; if such are collected, the decision of the commission does not come into force.

In both cases it is sufficient for the Council , by qualified majority , or Parliament to take a decision to this effect.

The application of delegated acts is laid down in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). The conditions for the delegation of powers are determined individually in each legislative procedure.

Implementing acts

In principle, the Member States are responsible for enacting the relevant implementing provisions for the implementation of legislative acts. However, under Art. 291 TFEU, the Commission or, in special cases, the Council can be empowered to adopt implementing acts. This is particularly the case when uniform conditions are required for the implementation of binding legal acts. If the Commission issues implementing acts, it is monitored by the Member States in special committees ( comitology ). Further details are provided in a regulation that the Council and the European Parliament adopt in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure.

Legal acts based on the treaties

In addition to the procedures mentioned, there are other legal acts without legislative character which the organs of the European Union take in accordance with the provisions of the treaties. In addition to the legislative bodies of the Council and Parliament, such legal acts can also be passed by other institutions such as the European Commission or the European Central Bank .

Certain non-legislative acts are adopted jointly by the Council and the European Parliament , similar to the legislative acts . The procedures described above, such as the consultation procedure or the consent procedure, are also used. Examples are:

Designation of legal acts

Since January 1, 2015, uniform numbering of legal acts of the European Union has been applied. This is determined by the Publications Office of the European Union . The aim and purpose is to harmonize and simplify the designations. Legal acts are therefore generally designated and numbered as follows, whereby only the numbering is assigned by the Publications Office of the EU: Type of legal act (contract code) YYYY / No.

Examples from January 1, 2015

  • VO (EU) 2015/1 = Regulation ( VO ) of the European Union ( EU ) from 2015 (always four digits) with consecutive no. 1 (first legal act in 2015. There are now consecutive numbers, regardless of the type of Document and the underlying contract).
  • Decision (EU, Euratom) 2015/2 = legal act Decision of the European Union ( EU ) and Euratom from 2015 with consecutive number 2 (second legal act in 2015).
  • Regulation (EU) 2015/3 of the European Parliament and of the Council ...
  • Directive (EU) 2015/4 of the European Parliament and of the Council ...
  • Council Decision (EU) 2015/5 ...
  • Council Decision (CFSP) 2015/6 ...
  • Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/7 ...
  • Commission Implementing Directive (EU) 2015/8 ...
  • Decision (EU) 2015/9 of the European Parliament ...
  • Decision (EU, Euratom) 2015/10 of the European Parliament ...
  • ...
Note: Bold type in the examples is for illustration only!

Previous names

The previous designations / numbering that were used up to January 1, 2015 remain in effect (e.g. Regulation (EU) No. 524/2013 or Directive 2013/11 / EU etc.). Special rules are also applied to international agreements and corrections.

Special regulations

Certain documents are given two names:

  • Legal acts and instruments of the ECB, e.g. E.g .: Decision (EU) 2015/33 of the European Central Bank ... (ECB / 2015/1 )
  • Resolutions of the Political and Security Committee, e.g. E.g .: Decision (CFSP) 2015/258 of the Political and Security Committee ... (EUBAM Libya / 1/2015 )

The number assigned by the Publications Office does not contain a contract abbreviation for the following documents and is placed in square brackets at the end of the title:

  • Legal acts by bodies established by international conventions, e.g. E.g .: Decision No. 2/2015 of the ACP-EU Committee of Ambassadors ... [2015/45]
  • Legal acts that have been adopted within the European Economic Area (EEA), e.g. E.g .: Decision of the EEA Joint Committee No. 58/2015 ... [2015/100]
  • Legal acts that have been adopted within the framework of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), e.g. E.g .: Decision of the EFTA Surveillance Authority No. 02/10 / COL ... [2015/101]
  • Regulations of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), e.g. E.g .: Regulation No. 28 of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) ... [2015/46]

Court decisions

For the harmonized designation of decisions of the courts of the Union member states including the Court of Justice of the European Union , the European Patent Office ( European Patent Court ) and all other interested states and international organizations, see: European Case Law Identifier .


Critics complain that the working method, especially in the cooperation and consultation procedures, is not transparent enough ( comitology ). Overall, the national parliaments' ability to participate is often criticized as being too limited ( the EU's democratic deficit ). To counter this, is in the Treaty of Lisbon, the observance of which entered into force on 1 December 2009, an "early warning system" is provided in which the national parliaments are informed of all legislative proposals of the Commission and these have the ability to subsidiarity principle to review and intervene if necessary. Recently, a “fast track” procedure in the so-called trialogue has also been criticized. In addition, the parliaments of the member states work together in the Conference of European Committees (COSAC).

See also


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. EU Parliament gets more power ,, January 28, 2010.
  2. a b
  4. European Commission: Types of EU Laws
  6. Examples according to the Publications Office of the European Union on the website on HARMONIZING THE NUMBERING OF EU LEGAL ACTS .
  7. See statement European Movement Germany from 2014 ( Memento from April 15, 2014 in the Internet Archive )