Legislative procedures

Article 289 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union

It reforms the EU’s previous decision-making process, thus strengthening its capacity to take decisions and action.


Article 289 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) concerns 2 types of legislative procedure:

ordinary legislative procedure
special legislative procedure.
Ordinary legislative procedure

Under the ordinary legislative procedure, the European Parliament is a co-legislator with the Council. Originally introduced under the Maastricht Treaty, when it was called the co-decision procedure, this procedure is now the most widely used method of EU decision-making. The TFEU changes its name and extends it to cover areas of policy such as:
judicial cooperation in civil matters,
police cooperation,
humanitarian aid, and
measures on external border controls, asylum and immigration.

The operation of the ordinary legislative procedure is described in detail in Article 294 TFEU. The Parliament and the Council legislate on an equal footing. The 2 institutions adopt legislative acts either at first reading or at second reading. If, following the second reading, the 2 institutions have still not reached an agreement, a Conciliation Committee is convened.

Under the ordinary legislative procedure, decisions are adopted by qualified majority, which is a system that ensures:
that a decision is carried out when there is both a majority of EU countries (55% in most cases, but 72% in some); and
that these countries represent at least 65% of the EU’s population.

The TFEU also introduces ‘passerelle clauses’. These clauses enable the ordinary legislative procedure to be used in other areas normally outside its scope, under certain conditions.

Special legislative procedures

Special legislative procedures, as their name implies, are the exception from the ordinary legislative procedure. These are used in certain more sensitive policy areas. Unlike in the case of the ordinary legislative procedure, the TFEU does not give a precise description of special legislative procedures. The rules for these are therefore defined on a case-by-case basis by the treaty articles that lay down the conditions for their implementation.

Under special legislative procedures, the Council is, in practice, the sole legislator. The Parliament is simply associated with the procedure. Its role is thus limited to consultation (such as under Article 89 TFEU concerning cross-border police operations) or consent (such as under Article 86 TFEU concerning the European Public Prosecutor’s Office) depending on the case.


Consolidated version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union — Part Six: Institutional and financial provisions — Title I: Institutional provisions — Chapter 2: Legal acts of the Union, adoption procedures and other provisions — Section 1: The legal acts of the Union (Article 289) (OJ C 202, 7.6.2016, p. 172)

Lobbying regulation: the EU’s transparency register

European Union policymakers do not legislate or regulate in a vacuum. They maintain regular dialogue with civil society and a range of interest groups, all of whom help to shape their views and policies. It is crucial that these contacts be as open and transparent as possible.

Agreement between the European Parliament and the European Commission

on the transparency register for organisations and self-employed individuals engaged in EU policy-making and policy implementation (OJ L 277, 19.9.2014, pp. 11-24).

The agreement between the European Parliament and the European Commission establishes a register. Interest representatives, more commonly known as lobbyists, wishing to have regular contact with policymakers sign the register, provide basic information on their activities and agree to abide by its code of conduct.


The register covers all activities which aim to, directly or indirectly, influence EU decision-making and policy implementation,
these activities include contacting MEPs, their assistants and EU officials; circulating letters and discussion papers; organising events and meetings; and participating in formal consultations or hearings,
certain activities, such as providing legal or other professional advice, are not covered and those involved do not need to sign the register,
the register does not apply to churches, religious communities, political parties, national civil services or international organisations,
organisations and individuals agree that the information they have provided in the register is correct and available to the public, and to abide by the code of conduct,
those registering are given annual access passes to the European Parliament’s premises.
they may be given additional incentives, such as authorisation to co-host events on parliamentary premises or be informed by the Commission when public consultations are launched,
the code of conduct contains a list of rules lobbyists must respect in their dealings with MEPs and EU officials. These range from clearly identifying themselves to not selling EU documents to third parties.
sanctions for breaking any of the rules include withdrawal of the access pass to the Parliament and removal from the register.

The European citizens’ initiative

Regulation (EU) 2019/788 on the European citizens’ initiative

The regulation updates rules on the European citizens’ initiative which is designed to contribute to strengthening democracy through the participation of citizens in the democratic and political life of the EU.
It aims to give EU citizens a greater say in the policies that affect their lives with a procedure allowing them to call on the European Commission to propose new laws.The regulation applies from 1 January 2020, except for Articles 9(4), 10, 11(5) and 20-24, which have already applied since 6 June 2019.


Article 11 of the Treaty on European Union established the right to a citizens’ initiative. Article 24 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union lays down the procedures and conditions required for citizens’ initiatives.

Right to support a European citizens’ initiative

Every EU citizen has the right to submit a statement of support to a European citizens’ initiative. Once one million signatures have been collected, citizens have the possibility to approach the Commission directly with a request inviting it to submit a proposal for an EU law, provided that it is related to implementing the EU Treaties.

Any EU citizen who is old enough to vote in European Parliament elections has the right to support a European citizens’ initiative by signing a statement of support. EU countries can set the minimum age for supporting an initiative at 16. Once an initiative gathers 1 million signatures, the Commission decides on what follow-up action to take, if any.
People with disabilities should be able to access information on and to support initiatives equally with other citizens.

Information and assistance by the Commission and EU countries

The Commission will:
provide citizens and groups of organisers with easily accessible and comprehensive information and assistance concerning the European citizens’ initiative, including redirecting them to relevant sources of information and assistance;
make available to the public, online and in paper format, and in all official EU languages, a guide to the European citizens’ initiative;
provide a free online collaborative platform dedicated to the European citizens’ initiative;
provide translations of the registered initiatives in all the official languages of the EU institutions.

The platform provides practical and legal advice, and a forum for discussion and exchanging information on the European citizens’ initiative for citizens, groups of organisers, stakeholders, non-governmental organisations, experts and other EU institutions and bodies who wish to participate.
The Commission ensures that information on registered initiatives is published in the online register set up for that purpose.
Each EU country sets up one or more contact points to inform and assist groups of organisers, free of charge.


The group of organisers must submit the registration form to the Commission via the register.
The Commission should:
verify that the registration criteria set out in the regulation are fulfilled;
give reasons when refusing registration and inform the group of organisers of all judicial and other remedies available to it;
make available to the public in the online register all decisions relating to requests for registration of proposals for citizens’ initiatives that it has adopted.

Collection of statements of support

The group of organisers of the registered initiative has 12 months to collect the necessary number of statements of support (1 million overall with minimum thresholds to be reached in at least a quarter of EU countries).
Models for the statements of support are set out in Annex III to the regulation.
Organisers can collect statements of support in paper form and/or online.
The Commission makes available a central online collection system. For initiatives registered until the end of 2022, organisers may choose to use an individual online collection system instead.

Publication and public hearing

When the Commission receives a valid initiative which has reached the required number of statements of support, it publishes a notice to that effect in the register and transmits the initiative to the Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions and the national parliaments.
Within 3 months of the initiative being presented, the group of organisers is given the opportunity to present the initiative at a public hearing organised by the Parliament.
Following this public hearing held on its premises, the Parliament assesses the political support for the initiative (see below).

Examination by the Commission and evaluation by the Parliament

Within 6 months of the publication of the initiative and following the public hearing in the European Parliament, the Commission should set out in a communication its legal and political conclusions on the initiative and the action it intends to take, if any, and its reasons for taking or not taking action.
Where the Commission intends to follow up on the initiative, including, where appropriate, by adopting proposals for an EU law, the communication also sets out an implementation timetable. The Commission should provide updates, in the register and on the public website for the European Citizens’ Initiative, on the measures adopted as a result of the initiative.
The Parliament then assesses the measures taken by the Commission.


Regulation (EU) 2019/788 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 April 2019 on the European citizens’ initiative (OJ L 130, 17.5.2019, pp. 55-81)

Consolidated version of the Treaty on European Union — Title II — Provisions on democratic principles — Article 11 (OJ C 202, 7.6.2016, p. 21)

Consolidated version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union — Part Two — Non-discrimination and citizenship of the Union — Article 24 (ex Article 21 TEC) (OJ C 202, 7.6.2016, p. 58)

Transparent funding of EU political parties

Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1141/2014 on the statute and funding of European political parties and European political foundations

It aims to create a specific legal, financial and regulatory system for European political parties* and European political foundations*. It increases their visibility, recognition and effectiveness by giving them a European legal personality* and greater funding flexibility.
In 2018, Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/673 which amends the 2014 regulation was adopted. It tightens up a number of the rules, for example, with regard to registration of political parties and foundations, and transparency regarding political programmes and party logos. It came into force on 4 May 2018.


The regulation creates the independent Authority for European Political Parties that registers, verifies and may impose penalties on European political parties and foundations. Information concerning the parties and foundations is contained in a publicly accessible online register.

To register with the authority as a European political party, a political alliance* has to satisfy certain conditions. These include:
having a seat in an EU country as indicated in its statutes;
having member parties represented , in at least one quarter of the EU countries, by members of the European Parliament, of national parliaments, of regional parliaments or of regional assemblies (a stipulation in Regulation (EU) 2018/673); or
it or its member parties having received, in at least one quarter of the EU countries, at least 3% of the votes cast in each of those countries at the most recent elections to the European Parliament;
its member parties cannot be members of another European political party (to avoid individual members of a national party formingmore than one European party in order to maximise access to public funds).

If a European party and its affiliated foundation fail to meet the conditions, or provide false information when registering, the authority can de-register it; parties may also be fined or removed from the register for certain breaches of the rules.

Parties may use the EU funding they receive to finance European Parliament election campaigns; spending linked to campaigns must be clearly identified as such by the parties in their annual financial statements.

A registered European political party that has at least one Member of the European Parliament (MEP) may apply for EU funding.
National parties must display the logo and political manifesto of their affiliated European party on their websites as a condition to access funds. This must be done by member parties at least 12 months before the funding applications are submitted.

Regulation (EU) 2018/673 ensures that 10% of the annual EU funding is allocated equally between the eligible parties. The remaining 90% is distributed according to their number of MEPs. The same distribution key is used for political foundations, which may have 90% of their annual costs reimbursed.
Strict rules apply to individual annual donations that parties and foundations may accept. These must not exceed €18,000. Any donations above €12,000 have to be immediately reported to the authority. The names of donors of individual donations not exceeding €1,500 do not need to be published. Anonymous donations may not be accepted.

The European Parliament can recover amounts unduly paid, and individuals guilty of fraud must pay back misspent funds. The European Public Prosecutor’s Office will be called on to investigate alleged abuses in the future.
Rules on contributions from the EU’s budget to European political parties are included in Regulation (EU) 2018/1046, the EU’s Financial Regulation.

It has applied since 1 January 2017.


European political party: an association of citizens:
which pursues political objectives, and
which is either recognised by, or established in accordance with, the legal order of at least one EU country.

European political foundation: an entity which is formally affiliated with a European political party, which is registered with the authority and which, through its activities, within the aims and fundamental values pursued by the EU, underpins and complements the objectives of the European political party by performing one or more of the following tasks:
observing, analysing and contributing to the debate on European public policy issues and on the process of European integration;
developing activities linked to European public policy issues, such as organising and supporting seminars, training, conferences and studies on such issues between relevant stakeholders, including youth organisations and other representatives of civil society;
developing cooperation in order to promote democracy, including in non-EU countries;
serving as a framework for national political foundations, academics, and other relevant actors to work together at European level.

Legal personality: having legal rights and duties, such as to enter into contracts, sue, and be sued.
Political alliance: structured cooperation between political parties and/or citizens.


Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1141/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2014 on the statute and funding of European political parties and European political foundations (OJ L 317, 4.11.2014, pp. 1-27)

Successive amendments to Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1141/2014 have been incorporated in the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.

Decision of the Bureau of the European Parliament of 28 May 2018 laying down the procedures for implementing Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1141/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the statute and funding of European political parties and European political foundations, (OJ C 225, 28.6.2018, pp. 4-48)

European Parliament resolution of 15 June 2017 on the funding of political parties and political foundations at European level (2017/2733(RSP)), (OJ C 331, 18.9.2018, p. 150)

Council Regulation (EU) 2017/1939 of 12 October 2017 implementing enhanced cooperation on the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (‘the EPPO’) (OJ L 283, 31.10.2017, pp. 1-71)

Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union and repealing Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 (OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, pp. 1-96)

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