Ordinary Legislative Procedure: Formal procedure
The standard decision-making procedure for legislative acts used in the European Union is the ordinary legislative procedure (OLP). The majority of all EU legislation is decided through this procedure which currently applies in 85 EU policy areas. In the period 2014-2016 91% of all legislative proposals were adopted through the ordinary legislative procedure.
The procedure is based on articles 289(1) and 294 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). In short, the procedure entails that the European Commission submits a legislative proposal to the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers. Both institutions have to agree on the proposal before it is adopted.
The formal ordinary legislative procedure follows a procedure of three readings.
The European Commission has the right of initiative. The Commission submits a proposal simultaneously to the European Parliament, the Council of Ministers and the national parliaments.
First, the Parliament formulates its response to the Commission proposal. The Parliament can reject it, or approve the proposal with or without amendments. Thereafter, the Council responds to the approved or amended proposal. The Council can accept the Parliament’s position, amend or reject it. If the Council accepts the proposal, it is formally adopted
If the Council amends the proposal, it goes back to the Parliament for the second reading and the previous process repeats. The Parliament can reject, accept or amend the proposal. However, in contrast to the first reading, the Parliament has a limited timeframe to respond, specifically three months with a possible extension of one month. If the Parliament chooses to submit amendments, the proposal is again sent to the Council. The timeframe the Council has to respond is the same as Parliaments. If the Council accepts the proposal it is formally adopted.
If the Council does not approve the Parliament’s amendments, a Conciliation Committee is convened. This Committee is composed of representatives of the Council and the Parliament and is charged with the task of reaching an agreement on a joint text within six weeks. This can be extended by two weeks. If the Committee does not reach an agreement, the proposed legislative act is not adopted. If the Committee does reach an agreement and the proposed text is thereafter approved by the Parliament and the Council, the legislative act is formally adopted.
Other legislative procedures
There are other EU legislative procedures but used less frequently, to adopt legislative acts. Specifically, the consultation procedure and the consent procedure. An example of a legislative act adopted by the consent procedure is the legislative procedure for the Multiannual Framework; the 7 year budget plan of the EU.