We use cookies to ensure we give you the best browsing experience on our website.
Find out more on how we use cookies and how you can change your settings.

The decision-making process in the European Union

1. Ordinary legislative procedure (co-decision)

Legislators: The Council of the EU and the European Parliament

Right of legislative initiative: The European Commission

Main elements of the procedure:

  1. The European Commission submits a proposal to the Council and the European Parliament
  2. The Council and the Parliament adopt a legislative proposal either at the first reading or at the second reading
  3. If the two institutions do not reach an agreement after the second reading a conciliation committee is convened
  4. If the text agreed by the conciliation committee is acceptable to both institutions at the third reading, the legislative act is adopted

If a legislative proposal is rejected at any stage of the procedure, or the Parliament and Council cannot reach a compromise, the proposal is not adopted and the procedure ends.

Legal base: Articles 289 and 294 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union

Facts and figures:

  • the majority of EU legal acts are adopted at first reading
  • the procedure applies to around 85 EU policy areas, ranging from the fight against discrimination to common immigration policy


2. Special legislative procedures

Legislator: The Council is, in practice, the sole legislator. The European Parliament is required to give its consent to a legislative proposal or be consulted on it.

Right of legislative initiative: The European Commission

Types of procedures:

  • Consent: the European Parliament has the power to accept or reject a legislative proposal by an absolute majority vote, but cannot amend it
  • Consultation: the European Parliament may approve, reject or propose amendments to a legislative proposal

Legal base: Article 289(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

Rules: The treaties do not give a precise description of special legislative procedures. The rules are therefore defined ad hoc, on the basis of the relevant treaty articles.


Help us improve

Find what you wanted?

Yes    No

What were you looking for?

Any suggestions?