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3. Amended Commission proposal

Article 293(2) TFEU authorises the Commission to alter its legislative proposal, enabling it to incorporate European Parliament amendments which, in its view, improve the initial proposal and/or are likely to facilitate an agreement.

Legal basis: Article 293(2) TFEU.

In detail

In accordance with § 13 of the Joint Declaration on practical arrangements for the new codecision procedure , the Commission must exercise its right of initiative in a constructive manner with a view to making it easier to reconcile the positions of the Council and the European Parliament. To this end, the Commission may incorporate into its amended proposal the European Parliament amendments which it supports, either unaltered or suitably reworded.

As far as internal procedures are concerned, the amended proposal is prepared by the Commission’s Directorate-General in charge of the dossier, on the basis of the mandate obtained from the College of Commissioners before the plenary. The Legal Service and the Secretariat-General are consulted, and the amended proposal is adopted by the College and published in the Official Journal ("C series").

4. Council first reading

The Council makes its position known after preparatory work has taken place within working parties made up of experts from the Member States and chaired by the Member State holding the six-monthly Presidency of the Council. This preparatory work runs concurrently with the European Parliament’s activity but the Council may only adopt a position after the European Parliament has acted. The instiutions are encouraged to exchange information on progress and timetables of the co-decision negotiations (cf. § 6 of the Joint Declaration ). The Council finalises its position on the basis of the Commission’s proposal, amended where necessary, in the light of the European Parliament’s first reading and resultant amendments.

There are three possible scenarios:

  • the Council accepts without alteration the Commission’s proposal, which the European Parliament has not amended, and the act can be adopted ;
  • the Council accepts all the European Parliament’s amendments which the Commission has incorporated into its amended proposal, and the act can be adopted ;
  • in all other cases, the Council adopts a common position.

Legal basis: Article 294(4), (5) and (6) TFEU.

In detail

Preparation of the Council’s position

The Council’s decisions are prepared within specific working parties made up of representatives of the Member States and chaired by the representative of the Member State holding the six-monthly Presidency, assisted by the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers. The Commission has a role to play in providing expertise.

The working parties report to the Committee of Permanent Representatives (Coreper, Part I or II), which prepares every Council decision taken at Ministerial level. 

Adoption of the decision by the Council

Decisions prepared by Coreper are adopted by the Council of Ministers either without debate, when an agreement has been found at the preparatory stage ("A" item), or with debate (“B” item). In both cases, the deliberations are in the public domain.

In accordance with Article 16(3) TEU, the Council will act by a qualified majority with the agreement of the Commission. However, if its position differs from that of the Commission, unanimity will be required (Article 293(1) TFEU). Thus, in order to allow the Council to vote by qualified majority, the Commission often amends its original proposal just before the adoption of the Council common position (see point 10).

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5. The Council approves all the EP amendments

If the Council approves the Commission’s proposal as amended by the European Parliament, the act is deemed to have been adopted in the wording which corresponds to the position of the European Parliament.

Legal basis: Article 294(4) TFEU.

When the European Parliament has introduced amendments, adoption of the act is dependent on the Council approving all the amendments by a qualified majority if the Commission has incorporated them into its amended proposal, or by unanimity if this has not been done.

In detail

When the co-legislators are seeking to conclude an agreement at first reading, it is often the case that they organise, in accordance with paragraphs 7, 8 and 9 of the "Joint Declaration on practical arrangements for the co-decision procedure ", informal tripartite meetings attended by representatives of the European Parliament (rapporteur and, where appropriate, shadow rapporteurs), the Council (chair of the working party and/or Coreper), and the Commission (department responsible for the dossier and the Commission’s Secretariat-General), so-called "trilogues". Further guidance can also be found in the "Code of conduct for negotiating in the context of the ordinary legislative procedures" which forms part of the EP Rules of Procedures (Annex XX).

The aim is to ensure that the Parliament amendments adopted in plenary are wholly acceptable to the Council. The Commission frequently plays a mediating and editing role in respect of these compromise texts.

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6. The Council can adopt the act as amended

The legislative act is submitted directly for the signature of the Presidents and Secretaries-General of the European Parliament and of the Council, and is published in the Official Journal.

The procedure is ended.

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7. The EP has approved the proposal without amendment

If the European Parliament has not adopted any amendments, and if the Council does not wish to alter the Commission’s proposal either, it can approve the act on that basis by a qualified majority – (with exceptions). The act is then adopted in the wording which corresponds to the position of the European Parliament which, in this particular case, is identical with the wording of the Commission proposal.

Legal basis: Article 294(4) TFEU.

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8. The Council can adopt the Act

The legislative act is submitted directly for the signature of the Presidents and Secretaries-General of the European Parliament and of the Council, and is published in the Official Journal.

The procedure is ended.

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