European Union opinions
Article 288 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU)
Article 288 of the TFEU lists the 5 different types of legal acts EU institutions can adopt. These are: regulations, directives, decisions, recommendations and opinions.
Opinions are a way for an institution to make its views known on draft EU legislation or other matters without these having the force of law. They can be issued by all the main EU institutions (the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union), the two leading advisory bodies — the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions — and EU countries’ national parliaments.
The following can issue opinions:
the European Commission: in cases involving EU competition policy or a potential breach of European law. It receives the opinions from a wide range of scientific (for example, the European Food Safety Authority) and non-scientific advisory committees.
the European Parliament: when consulted in the relatively limited number of areas where it does not have legislative powers:
employment and social policies, and
certain aspects of environmental and energy taxation.
The Parliament’s own committees issue opinions either on draft legislation or on subjects of their own choosing.
the Council of the European Union: when replying, for instance, to an inquiry from the European Ombudsman on public access to its documents.
Legal services of each of the above 3 institutions: they provide internal advice in the form of opinions.
European Economic and Social Committee: in over a dozen policy areas, such as agriculture, transport and employment where, under the EU treaties, it must be consulted on draft EU legislation. It may also issue its own opinions on other subjects.
Committee of the Regions: in the 10 policy areas where it must be consulted , ranging from public health to energy and the environment, and optional areas such as tourism and fisheries.
National parliaments: on draft EU legislation, both on its content and whether it is an area more suitable for EU or national action.
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 288 (ex Article 249 TEC) (OJ C 202, 7.6.2016, pp. 171–172)