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Guide to the ordinary legislative procedure

The co-decision procedure is a legislative procedure, established by the Maastricht Treaty, for joint adoption by the Council and the European Parliament of legislative acts. The Treaty of Amsterdam and the Treaty of Nice adapted the procedure and extended its use.

One of the most important changes brought about by the Lisbon Treaty is the expansion of the co-decision to more than 80 policy areas, thus transforming it into the main decision-making practice of the EU, known as the ordinary legislative procedure (article 289 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union).

The ordinary legislative procedure is set out in article 294 of the TFEU and is conducted as follows:

  • First reading: 

The Commission submits the legislative proposal to the Council and the European Parliament. Both institutions conduct the first reading – which is without time-limits – and if the Council approves the EP's position at first reading, the legislative act is adopted.

  • Second reading:

If the Council rejects the EP's position, it adopts its position at first reading and submits it to the EP for a second reading. If the EP approves this position, the legislative act is adopted. In the event of rejection, the dossier may be resumed only on the basis of a new proposal from the Commission. If the EP proposes amendments to the Council's position, the Council's second reading is conducted. If all the amendments are approved, the act is adopted; in the event of rejection, the Conciliation Committee is convened.

  • Conciliation: 

The representatives of the EP, the Council and the Commission have six weeks to reach an agreement and approve the joint text.

A much more detailed explanation of the procedure is given in the Guide to the Ordinary Legislative Procedure, which is intended to facilitate the work of the presidency, the General Secretariat of the Council and delegations. It describes in detail the conduct of the procedure during each phase and explains the respective roles of the Presidency and the General Secretariat. The annexes include the Joint declaration on practical arrangements for the co-decision procedure, legal bases for the ordinary legislative procedure, the time-limits of the procedure and the distribution of tasks within the GSC.