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Better law-making: Council approves agreement with the EP and the Commission

Council of the EU
  • 15/12/2015
  • 12:15
  • Press release
  • 924/15
  • Institutional affairs
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Jérôme Unterhuber
Press officer
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The European Union will improve the way it legislates to ensure that EU laws better serve citizens and businesses. That is the main purpose of an agreement on better law-making between the Council, Parliament and the Commission, which the Council endorsed on 15 December 2015.

The interinstitutional agreement will ensure that EU legislation focuses on areas where it has the greatest added value for European citizens, and that laws are simple and clear. It aims at avoiding overregulation and reducing the administrative burdens for citizens and businesses, especially SMEs. The agreement provides for closer co-operation between the institutions, in particular in the area of legislative programming. It also reinforces impact assessments of new initiatives, as well as to greater transparency and public consultation in the legislative process.

"The agreement on better law-making reflects the joint commitment of the EU institutions to make the life of citizens and companies easier. Laws need to be simple to understand and to implement, and that's precisely what the agreement seeks to ensure", said Nicolas Schmit, Minister for Labour, Employment and Social and Solidary Economy.

Annual and multiannual programming

Under the agreement the Commission will consult both the Council and the Parliament before adopting its annual work programme and take their views into account. In addition, drawing on the Commission's annual work programme, the three institutions will identify joint legislative priorities for the following year. To facilitate longer-term planning, the agreement provides that when a new Commission is appointed, all three institutions will exchange views on their principal policy objectives for the new term. 

Impact assessments and public consultations

Before adopting a proposal the Commission will conduct public consultations, encouraging in particular the direct participation of SMEs. As part of the process of improving the quality of EU laws impact assessments of new initiatives will be reinforced. These will take greater account of the impact of new laws on competitiveness, in particular as far as SMEs are concerned. They will also assess the cost of not taking action at EU level. The Council and the Parliament have agreed to carry out impact assessments on substantial amendments to Commission proposals if they consider this to be appropriate and necessary for the legislative process.

Simplification of EU legislation 

The Council, Parliament and Commission have also agreed to do more to simplify EU legislation. Every year the Commission will present an assessment of the extent to which this has been achieved. The Commission will, where appropriate, specify the burden reduction and savings potential of individual legislative proposals against the wider context of the costs and benefits of EU regulation.

Transparency and coordination

To increase the efficiency of their legislative work, the Council and the Parliament are committed to work more closely together. They have agreed to ensure transparency and improve communication to the public during the whole legislative cycle.

Expertise for delegated acts

The agreement also provides for more expert consultations by the Commission before it adopts delegated acts. This includes a systematic consultation of experts designated by member states.

Next steps

Once the agreement has been reviewed by the lawyer-linguists it will have to be formally adopted by the three institutions in accordance with their internal procedures. The agreement then needs to be signed by the Presidents of the three institutions and will enter into force the same day.