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Decision-Making Procedures -
How Europe Makes its Laws

There are four procedures by which legislation is initiated, amended and adopted by the Community. The four procedures show a slight variation in the balance of power between the European Parliament.

In all of them, the Commission makes the initial proposal and the Council makes the final decision. The European Parliament has different degrees of influence over amendment in the different procedures. The Economic and Social Committee has the right of consultation in most of them. The procedures are:

Consultation Procedure
Of the four procedures this one concentrates the most power in the hands of the Council. So it is used for the most sensitive measures. The procedure was introduced under the EEC and Euratom treaties which entered into force in 1958. There is no time limit on it.

The consultation procedure applies to measures that directly affect the establishment of the single market. But in practice the Council has undertaken to consult the EP on Commission proposals within a week of receiving them except in cases of urgency. The Commission has also agreed to send the proposals it sends to the Council directly to the Parliament.

Assent Procedure
Assent procedure is essentially a process whereby the EP ratifies, or gives its assent to, international agreements agreed by the EU. The EP can only accept or reject the agreements. It cannot amend them. The procedure does not apply to trade agreements.

Co-operation Procedure[Back to Top]
The co-operation procedure was introduced under the Single European Act in 1987. It represented the first, albeit limited, power of the European Parliament to ensure its amendments were incorporated into legislation.

Co-operation procedure was applied originally only to about ten articles of the EEC Treaty, but they included important areas, notably the bulk of legislative harmonisation necessary for the single market, specific research programmes, regional fund decisions and some social policy matters.

Co-decision Procedure[Back to Top]
Of the four procedures, this allows the EP the most influence in amending legislation. It is complex, but incorporates more opportunity for amendment and the possibility for the EP to reject legislation, which makes for a much stronger bargaining position.

Diana, Princess of Wales, 1961-1997

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