Agriculture and rural development

Ordinary legislative procedure

Ordinary legislative procedure

Ordinary legislative procedure

This is the main procedure by which the European Union makes law. It applies to almost all policy areas, including agriculture. An alternative term is ‘co-decision’.

Briefly, the procedure is as follows: the Commission writes a text which is its proposal for a new or revised act. The Commission writes the text after an extensive consultation process, which may be conducted in various ways (impact assessment, reports by experts, consultation of national experts, international organisations and/or non-governmental organisations, consultation via green and white papers, etc.).  A consultation process is also launched among the different departments of the Commission to ensure that all aspects of the matter in question are taken into account.

The Commission’s proposed text is then adopted by the College of Commissioners. It is thereupon published in the Official Journal of the European Union (C Series). Simultaneously, the proposed text is sent to the European Parliament, to the Council, to all national parliaments and, depending on the policy area, to the Economic and Social Committee and/or the Committee of the Regions.

There then takes place the formal consideration and possible amendment of the text by the Council and the European Parliament. This is an iterative process - amendments being proposed by one institution for the consideration of the other in up to two readings in each institution. The objective is to derive a text that is acceptable to the both the Council and to the European Parliament.

In the event that, after two readings in each institution, the Council and the European Parliament have not reached agreement on a common text, they enter into a process known as conciliation. A committee is formed of representatives of the Council and of the European Parliament. Its task is to reach agreement on a joint text. If an agreed joint text is forthcoming, it is the subject of a third reading in each institution.

Once the two institutions have reached agreement on a common text, it is said to be adopted by the Council and the European Parliament. It is then published in the Official Journal of the European Union and becomes law.

If the two institutions cannot agree on a common text, the procedure ends and the Commission's proposal is rejected.

Prior to the Lisbon Treaty, proposals concerning agriculture were adopted by the ʽconsultation procedureʼ which did not require the agreement of the European Parliament. The Parliament had only the right to express its opinion on a proposal.

Now, no proposal can become law without the agreement of both the European Parliament and the Council. Putting the European Parliament – which is directly elected by European citizens – at the same level of responsibility as the Council, clearly strengthens the democratic aspect of the Common Agricultural Policy and ensures it continues to respond to the needs of citizens.

The ordinary legislative procedure was used for the 2013 reform of the Common Agricultural Policy. This was the first time that this procedure was used for a reform of this policy.