How does the EU pass new laws and regulations?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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European Union laws and regulations are typically passed by a process known as the ordinary legislative procedure.  In this procedure, the proposed law must be submitted by the European Commission.  This is the executive branch of the EU’s government.  The Commission submits the proposal to both the EU Parliament (elected through direct votes of the people in the various EU countries) and the EU Council (made up of one minister from each country in the EU). 

It submits the proposal to the Parliament first.  The Parliament may approve the proposal as is, or it may amend it.  Once it has acted, the proposal passes on to the Council.  It may approve the form of the proposal passed by the Parliament or it may make its own amendments.  If the Council approves the proposal as passed by Parliament, the proposal becomes law.  If the Council amends the proposal as passed by Parliament, the proposal must be returned to Parliament for a second reading.

If the proposal is returned to Parliament for a second reading, Parliament can do one of three things.  It can approve the Council’s amendments, at which point the proposal becomes law.  This is the usual result.  Parliament can also amend the Council’s version of the proposal, sending it back to the Council for a second reading.  Finally, Parliament can simply reject the Council’s version, killing the proposal entirely.

If the proposal is sent back to the Council, it can approve Parliament’s changes, at which point the proposal becomes law.  If it still does not agree with Parliament, the proposal is sent to a Conciliation Committee, which tries to agree on a proposal that both bodies can accept.  If it cannot, the proposal is killed.  If it can, the proposal is sent back to Parliament and the process starts again.

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