There are four forms of legislative process in use in the European Union. The procedure that is now most commonly used, co-decision, was introduced in the Maastricht Treaty, was extended in the Amsterdam Treaty, and was extended again (and formally named 'co-decision') in the Treaty of Lisbon.
All EU legislation formally starts life in the Commission as a Commission proposal, and the differences between the legislative processes come into play after that. Since the proposal stage is usually the most important for an NGO interested in influencing the legislative outcome, that is covered in detail here.
In summary, the four forms of legislative process are:
- Co-decision: this is now the most common procedure for making new laws. Under the co-decision procedure the Parliament and the Council are both involved in accepting, rejecting, and amending legislative proposals.
- Consultation: Under the consultation procedure The Parliament is consulted about the proposed legislation but it doesnít have any power over the Commission and the Council
- Cooperation: The Cooperation procedure is only used when the law relates to economic and monetary policy. It allows the Council to adopt a proposal but it has to approve it unanimously if the Parliament opposes it.
- Consent: The consent procedure is used for the accession of new member states and certain matters concerning the European Central Bank. Proposed legislation has to be approved by the Parliament but it canít make any amendments.