After preparatory work by the European Commission for a new policy initiative has been completed, a Commission proposal for new EU legislation will be drafted.
When this draft for new EU legislation has been completed it requires political validation within the college of Commissioners. After political validation has been given, the proposal will be published and sent to the European Parliament, the Council of Ministers and the national Parliaments. With this step, the Commission has initiated the EU legislative procedure.
Types of Commission proposals
The European Commission can initiate different types of policy proposals. Common types of legislative proposals are proposals for an EU regulation or an EU directive.
There are other types of proposals the Commission can put forward, namely: decisions, recommendations and opinions. Of these three, only decisions are legally binding. Generally, decisions are used for rulings or day-to-day affairs, not for new legislative initiatives.
Better Regulation and Commission proposals
Better drafting of EU legal acts goes back to the 1998 interinstitutional agreement on common guidelines for the quality of drafting of Community legislation. The goal of this agreement was to ensure that “Community legislative acts shall be drafted clearly, simply and precisely”.
With regard to Commission proposals, the recent Better Regulation Guidelines highlight the importance of two related documents accompanying a Commission proposal: the explanatory memorandum and the implementation plan.
The explanatory memorandum summarises the Commission proposal in a clear and non-technical way.
Among other things, the memorandum explains in what way the Commission proposal adheres to the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality and the better regulation principles. With regards to the better regulation principles, the explanatory memorandum provides an overview of the preparatory analytical work undertaken by the European Commission such as:
- ex-post evaluations of existing legislation;
- stakeholder consultations;
- expert consultations;
- impact assessments.
The main findings from this preparatory work and how they have been taken into account in the Commission proposal is also included in the explanatory memorandum.
An implementation plan (IP) is drafted in order to aid Member States in effectively, timely and correctly applying new EU directives. An IP should be considered when a new EU directive due to its complexity and by its nature could benefit from extra supportive measures by the Commission. Such measures ensure that EU law is applied effectively and the policy objectives of the EU are met.
Implementation plans are usually required for: framework directives, directives with a broad scope, directives which fully harmonise a certain policy area and directives that have a significant impact on national legal orders.
Feedback period after a proposal has been published
Commission proposals for regulations and directives that are adopted by the European Commission, and consequently sent to the European Parliament and the Council, are published on the European Commission website “Have your say”. Via this website, it is possible to give feedback for a 12 week period. The feedback collected here will be bundled and sent European Parliament and Council to feed into the legislative process.