B1.5 EU Law


The European Commission proposes legislation. The process is as follows:

  • A Member of the European Parliament, working in one of the parliamentary committees, draws up a report on a proposal for a ‘legislative text’ presented by the European Commission.
  • The parliamentary committee votes on this report and possibly, amends it.
  • When the text has been revised and adopted in plenary, Parliament has adopted its position.
  • This process is repeated one or more times, depending on the type of procedure and whether or not agreement is reached with the Council.


There are two types of procedure:

  • Consultation Procedure
  • Codescision Procedure


Consultation Procedure

On ‘sensitive’ questions, such as taxation, industrial policy and agricultural policy, the European Parliament gives only an advisory opinion. This is known as the Consultation Procedure.

In some cases consultation is obligatory. The proposal cannot acquire the force of law unless Parliament has delivered an opinion. In this case the Council is not empowered to take a decision alone.

Codescision Procedure

European law is passed by the Council of the European Union, who usually legislate jointly with the European Parliament. This is codecision. Two thirds of European laws are adopted jointly by the European Parliament and the Council.

The codecision procedure was introduced by the Maastricht Treaty on European Union (1992) and extended and made more effective by the Amsterdam Treaty (1999).

Codecision gives the same weight to the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union on a wide range of areas (for example, transport, the environment and consumer protection).

The procedure is as follows:

  • The Commission sends its proposal to Parliament and the Council.
  • They consider it, and discuss it on two successive occasions.
  • After two readings, if they cannot agree, the proposal is brought before a Conciliation Committee made up of an equal number of representatives of the Council and Parliament.
  • Representatives of the Commission also attend the meetings of the Conciliation Committee and contribute to the discussions.
  • When the Committee has reached agreement, the text agreed upon is sent to Parliament and the Council for a third reading, so that they can finally adopt it as a legislative text.
  • The final agreement of the two institutions is essential if the text is to be adopted as a law.


Even if a joint text is agreed by the Conciliation Committee, Parliament can still reject the proposed law by an absolute majority of its members.