The vast majority of EU legislation is not really what we think of as 'law'. Rather than being legislation aimed at shaping society, it is regulatory legislation, administrative regulations, implementing legislation covering the details of policies already decided.
Such legislation is issued mainly in the form of Commission Regulations and Decisions, which apply with immediate effect (unlike Directives) to either the EU (Regulations) or to the individual to whom they're addressed (Decisions). It rarely involves the Commissioners themselves directly, being created largely through the various Commission Committees.
The Council of Ministers also issues such legislation, but here the formal assent of the Ministers is required, although, again, the details of the legislation are worked out further down the chain in various committees.
Administrative legislation is generally produced through the Comitology process, which involves one of four different types of Commission-chaired committee. Some administrative legislation, however, will instead go through one of the full legislative procedures. There is no formal rule that requires a piece of administrative or regulatory legislation to be output by way of one of the full legislative procedures, but in general the broader in scope or the more significant the impact of the legislation, the more likely it is to be put forward to the Council and Parliament by way of co-decision, consultation, or assent.
The choice of the type of Committee used in the Comitology procedure depends on the issues involved, and flows from the Comitology Decision, which we're quoting from here:
- the management procedure should be followed as regards management measures such as those relating to the application of the common agricultural and common fisheries policies or to the implementation of programmes with substantial budgetary implications.
- the regulatory procedure should be followed as regards measures of general scope designed to apply essential provisions of basic instruments, including measures concerning the protection of the health or safety of humans, animals or plants, as well as measures designed to adapt or update certain non-essential provisions of a basic instrument.
- it is necessary to follow the regulatory procedure with scrutiny as regards measures of general scope which seek to amend non-essential elements of a basic instrument adopted in accordance with the procedure referred to in Article 251 of the Treaty, inter alia by deleting some of those elements or by supplementing the instrument by the addition of new non-essential elements.
- the advisory procedure should be followed in any case in which it is considered to be the most appropriate, and in which none of the other procedures must be applied.
The Committees involved in the Comitology process may be of more or less permanent nature. A list of the current Committees and their documents can be obtained from here
- see, in particular, the "Search for Committee" function.