In order to make sure that newly drafted EU legislation does not diverge from the annual Commission Work Programme (CWP) and the political priorities of the Commission, every legislative proposal from the European Commission needs political validation from the College of Commissioners.
How does this work?
This means an authorization by the relevant political Commission authority in order to prevent policy drift. In other words, every initiative has to be signed off at the political level of the Commission, to ensure that only policy initiatives in line with the political goals of the current Commission are proposed. Before political validation, only informal consideration of the proposal is allowed.
Aspects of the proposal
In order to move to the phase of political validation, Commission officials have to address the following aspects in their submission:
- What type of initiative is this, major or other?
- What are the core characteristics of the initiative? What is the legal basis, was this in the CWP, what kind of legislation, etc.
- Deal with the subsidiarity principle. Or in other words, why should the EU act and not the member states?
- How are we going to use the Better Regulation tools? Do we need Impact Assessments, evaluations and public consultation? And if not, why not?
The Commission official may submit its proposal for political validation if it has answered all these questions.
Political validation has to be given proportionately to the nature of the initiative under consideration. If it is a ‘major initiative’, political validation has to be given by the relevant Commissioner, relevant Vice-President (VP) and the First Vice-President (FVP). The table below gives an overview of the different types of political validation.
|Type of initiative||Who validates|
|Major initiative||FVP & VP & Commissioner in close collaboration with the President|
|Initiatives that are not “major” nor fitness checks or evaluations||Commissioner|
|Evaluations & fitness checks||DG (Management plan)|
Getting a ‘green-light’
After political validation has been given, substantive work on the initiative may commence. It is important to note that political validation is not a stamp of approval for a certain kind of approach or outcome but rather a ‘green-light’ that ‘real’ preparatory work on the legislative proposal can begin. Political validation is only the first step towards finalisation of a legislative proposal by the European Commission. After political validation has been granted, an inception impact assessment or roadmap thas to be drafted and published. The goal of this is to inform citizens, stakeholders and other parties at an early stage of the Commissions’ intention to take action at the EU level in a certain policy area.