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Decision making and legislative process in the EU

There are a few different EU institutions that are involved in making decisions at a European level

Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in news

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There are a few different EU institutions that are involved in making decisions at a European level.

  • The European Parliament (represents the EU/s citizens and is directly elected by them)
  • The Council of the European Union (or the Council of Ministers)
  • The European Commission (which represents the interests of the EU as a whole)

The European Commission is the body that proposes new laws and the European Parliament and Council adopt them. The Member States and the Commission then implement them.

Types of legislation:

  • A regulation – this is a binding law in all Member States. A regulation doesn’t have to be passed into national law by Member States but some national laws may need to change to reflect a European regulation.
  • A directive – this is a law that binds Member States, or a group of Member States, to achieve a particular objective. Usually, directives have to made a national law to work and the national government can decide how the directive works – once it is reflecting the outcome posed at European level.
  • A decision – this is a binding law that can be addressed to Member States, groups of people or even individuals. A decision could be used, for example, to rule on proposed mergers between companies (e.g. Ryanair and Aerlingus stake)
  • Recommendations and opinions – are not binding.

How is legislation passed?

European laws are based on specific treaty articles or have ‘legal basis’ for legislation.  This sets out how the procedure for the legislation will be followed. It lays out whether unanimity is required or whether a qualified majority is needed.

Commission considers launching a proposal for action, and invited views on the topics from governments, business, civil society organisations and individuals. Once all of this has been fed into, the Commission send the proposal to be presented to the Council and the Parliament. 

It's not as complicated as it might seem:

Flowchart of the European Parliament legislative process

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Published November 25th, 2015
Last updated February 19th, 2018
Tags european parliament
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Contact your MEP

Need to get in touch with your local MEP? Simply click your constituency below and we will give you the MEPs for your area and their contact details.

Select your constituency - Dublin Midlands North-West South

MEPs in Dublin Constituency

Lynn Boylan

01 873 6554


58 Parnell Square, Dublin 1.

Nessa Childers

01 296 2263


11 Glenard Hall, Clonskeagh, Dublin 14

Brian Hayes

01 209 6548


6 Main Street, Donnybrook, Dublin 4

MEPs in Midlands North West Constituency

Matt Carthy

042 967 4001


10 Monaghan Street, Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan

Luke 'Ming' Flanagan

094 962 2710


Priory House, Barrack Street, Castlerea, Co. Roscommon

Marian Harkin

071 914 5890


28 Emmet Place, Union Street, Sligo

Mairead McGuinness

041 685 4633


Mentrim, Drumconrath, Navan, Co. Meath

MEPs in South Constituency

Deirdre Clune

1890 989 533


74 South Mall, Cork

Seán Kelly

085 125 5263


European Parliament, ASP 08F353, rue Wiertz 60, B-1047 Brussels.

Liadh Ni Riada

01 872 6100


20 Commons Road, Blackpool, Cork

Brian Crowley

021 489 6433

Maryborough Lodge, Maryborough Hill, Douglas, Cork

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