European Law Monitor

Make your voice heard!

By what process does the European Commission come out with its proposals?

When people think of the European Commission coming out with proposals they often seem to have a vision of some power crazed bureaucrat in Brussels who has decided, on a whim, to impose his will on the rest of Europe.

In fact, the process is a good deal more democratic:

In February of each year the European Commission and the European Parliament decide on the political priorities for the following year, and also set the annual policy strategy.

Once agreed between the European Parliament and the Commission, the political priorities and the annual policy strategy are adopted by the Commission, usually at the end of February.

Between March and May the European Parliament committees will be involved in ongoing discussions with the relevant Commissioners on the scope and the implementation of the agreed political priorities for each specific area, e.g. agriculture, transport etc. Each committee will report on the outcome of those meetings.

During June and July, the chairmen of the all the European Parliament committees will review how far through the current legislative work program they have managed to get.

Between March and July the Commission will also tend to launch consultations on topics that it wants to cover the following year. (So it is worth bookmarking this address

and checking it once a month to see if anything is coming up that affects your sector). Remember; the earlier you get in with your concerns, the more weight they tend to carry.

In September there will be an assessment, by the chairmen of all the European Parliament committees, together with the Commission,

  • of the legislative proposals that the Commission plans to include in the legislative work program for the following year.
  • On whether the political priorities need to be updated, following the European Parliaments input in March-May.

In November, the Commission President will formally present the proposed work program for the following year at the European Parliament plenary. This includes

  • a list of legislative proposals that the Commission would like to see enacted in the following year, and
  • a calendar, which lays out how the management of the work program is likely to work in practice.

All of the Commissioners will take part in this discussion, and the discussion will include an assessment of how far through the current years legislative work program they have managed to get, and how many of the current years proposals they need to carry over until next year.

At the November or December plenary the European Parliament will give its position on the above documents and state whether they approve or reject the proposed work program.

As you will hopefully see from the above, rather than legislative proposals being made by individuals without any form of check or control, there are very involved processes in place, and the democratically elected body, the European Parliament, is a key part of that process. This means that businesses and individuals can influence the proposed work program for the following year by

  • Keeping in touch with your MEP, particularly from March-May.
  • Participate in the online consultations; they will usually form the basis for proposed legislation the following year, and the Commission really does welcome input at this stage.