An animated guide to the creation of EU legislation from start to finish.
Unlike what happens in Member States, in the EU only the Commission can propose directives or legally binding regulations. Neither the States nor the EP have this power.
But these proposals never just fall from the sky. In fact, the European Commission listens to voices that are raised across Europe for or against the creation of new laws. At this stage the MEPs are also included. They often adopt recommendations.
From 2012 European citizens will also be able to ask directly for new draft laws. For that, one million Europeans from at least seven countries will need to sign a petition.
After listening to all sides, the Commission finally presents a draft law. That's the start of a long process which takes 12 to 18 months. The draft then goes to the EU Council, representing the States, and to the EU Parliament, representing the citizens. In 80% of cases, the two institutions have equal power. That's called the ordinary legislative procedure.
There's no question of legislating on everything. The EU can make laws on the environment, agriculture, transport... The list is growing. But the States have an absolute right of veto on social security, taxation, or foreign affairs and defence, for example.
Returning to draft laws, before adoption, they go through the institutional mill. The EU Council and the EP amend the drafts according to their interests and according to the majorities that take shape. Since the States and MEPs rarely agree first time around, they must negotiate.
Two possible outcomes: Either the two institutions reach a compromise and the draft law can be adopted after a vote by MEPs. Or there's no agreement and negotiations must continue. If the negotiations fail once, the clock starts ticking to find agreement before a deadline. If there's still disagreement, the draft law quite simply fails and the whole procedure has to start again. But in fact that very rarely happens. When there's agreement, the new European law is officially adopted and all Member States must then apply it. Well, almost. Sometimes States receive a derogation. If they fail to comply, the European Commission will act once again. It can call bad students to order. And if that fails the Court of Justice of the EU takes over. In the worst cases, States can be required to pay heavy fines, but that's another story.
EuroparlTV video ID: 2943a9f1-0a1a-4f7c-9fe8-9f82009fa481