Where EU laws and policies come from
The Commission proposes laws and policies on its own initiative. It can also respond to invitations to do so from:
- European Council (heads of state or government of each EU country)
- Council of the European Union (government ministers from each EU country)
- European Parliament (directly elected by EU citizens)
- Citizens themselves, following a successful European Citizens’ Initiative
The Commission prepares laws and policies transparently, based on evidence and backed up by the views of citizens and stakeholders. This is referred to as better regulation.
How they are planned
In its annual work programme, the Commission makes a political commitment to deliver on a certain number of priorities during a given calendar year.
A more comprehensive list covering all major planned initiatives is also published and regularly updated.
How their scope is defined
The Commission uses a roadmap to define the scope of:
- a major new law or policy
- an evaluation of an existing law or policy
- a fitness check of a bundle of related existing laws and/or policies
Roadmaps describe the problem to be tackled and objectives to be met, explain why EU action is needed, outline policy options and describe the main features of the consultation strategy.
Sometimes the potential impact of a law or policy on the economy, environment or society is so great that an impact assessment is required. In that case, the roadmap is replaced by an inception impact assessment, which goes into greater detail.
How their impact is assessed
When the expected impacts of an EU law or policy are likely to be significant, the Commission conducts an impact assessment before making its proposal.
The aim of this assessment is to analyse in more detail the issue to be addressed, whether action should be taken at EU level and the potential economic, social and environmental effects of the different solutions outlined.
The results of the impact assessment help inform the Commission's decision.
Who can contribute
Anyone who might be affected by an existing or proposed law or policy. This includes: public authorities, businesses, civil society organisations and the public.
How to contribute
There are various opportunities to contribute to EU law-making as it evolves – from the preparation phase through to proposals for new laws and evaluations of how existing laws are performing. Feedback can be given through open public consultations and other online tools.
The Commission takes account of feedback when further developing the law or policy, or when evaluating several related laws or policies in a single policy area.
Other forms of consultation
The Commission may also seek expertise in a given area and target specific stakeholder groups through, for example:
- targeted consultations
- small-business panels
- online discussion forums
How their quality is ensured
The better regulation guidelines and accompanying toolbox (2015) provide standards for quality when planning and proposing policies and laws.
The independent Regulatory Scrutiny Board checks the quality of all the Commission's draft impact assessments, major evaluations and fitness checks.
In principle, an initiative accompanied by an impact assessment requires a positive opinion from the board to be agreed on by the Commission.
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