When the Commission has published the draft text of a legislative proposal (around 70-80 per year), a proposal under co-decision must then be passed by the Parliament and Council of Ministers. There are three possible stages to the procedure, depending on the extent of disagreement between the Parliament and the Council on the text.
Initial consideration of the text is done for the Parliament through the relevant Parliamentary Committee (the 'first reading'), and for the Council through the appropriate working groups and COREPER.
The Parliament does not at this point vote on the proposal itself, but instead votes on a version of the text to be passed to the Council with or without amendments to the text as proposed by the Commission. The Council receives this opinion as the text to be voted on - they do not vote directly on the original Commission draft.
If the Council accepts the text as approved by the Parliament, and the other legislative requirements have been met, such as consultation of the EESC and the Committee of the Regions if required, the text may be adopted at this stage of the procedure. Council votes under co-decision are normally by QMV, but if there are amendments made by either the Parliament or Council with which the Commission does not agree, the Council must vote unanimously to accept those amendments.
About 30% of legislation is adopted at this stage.
If the Council does not accept the version approved by the Parliament, the Council must adopt a 'common position' on the text (again, usually by QMV), and pass this text back to the Parliament for a second reading.
At this stage, the 'second reading', the Parliament may reject, amend, approve, or take no action on the Council's 'common position' text. If the Parliament either approves the text or takes no action within 3 months, the Council may adopt the text as legislation.
If the Parliament rejects the common position by an absolute majority of its members (ie by more than half the number of seats in the Parliament), the proposal fails.
If the Parliament decides, again by an absolute majority, to amend the common position text, the amended text goes back to the Council for a vote. If the Council accepts the text, the legislation is adopted.
A further 50% of legislation is adopted at this stage.
If the Council does not accept the amended text, the proposal moves to the third stage.
At the third stage, the proposal is passed to a Conciliation Committee consisting of representatives of the Council and Parliament - the former being usually senior members of COREPER, the latter being a mix of semi-permanent Conciliation Committee members and members of the relevant Parliament committees - to produce an acceptable joint text.
Since this is unwieldy, the Conciliation Committee is usually preceded by 'trialogue' meetings comprising fewer representatives, but of all three institutions. In about half of cases, the trialogue meetings produce an agreed joint text which the Conciliation Committee can accept - in the other half of cases, the CC itself agrees the joint text.
The agreed joint text must be back with the Parliament and Council for a final vote within six weeks. The Council votes by QMV, the Parliament by an 'ordinary majority' of votes cast. Rejection by either institution means the proposal fails.
When a legislative proposal fails at the conciliation stage, it is common for the Commission to redraft the proposal in a more acceptable form and present it again.