Following the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty, the ordinary legislative procedure is now the most common form of decision making procedure in the EU. It applies to most (but not all) of the policy areas that are contained within the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
Under the ordinary legislative procedure the Parliament, has the same rights and the same decision making authority as the Council and is therefore able to exercise the greatest amount of legislative power under this procedure.
This enhanced power of the Parliament is often deemed as the most democratic element of the decision-making process in the EU, as it is seen to increase citizens’ control over the EU’s policy processes.
Notice how the vast majority of policy areas fall under this decision making procedure (see pages 1-6).
The ordinary legislative procedure has up to three main stages, although the process can be concluded at the first or second stage.
The three possible stages are –
- A first reading by the EP and then the Council
- A second reading by the EP and then the Council
- A Conciliation Committee
Qualified Majority Voting
Decisions under the ordinary legislative procedure are taken by Qualified Majority Voting (QMV). This means that unanimity is not needed for a decision to be taken in the Council when a pre-determined majority of member states (representing a certain percentage of the EU population) are in agreement. In reality, however, the Council usually tries to reach unanimity.
Each member state has a certain number of votes weighted by population size. Click here to see a table of the number of votes each member state has and how directly (or not) it relates to population.
As of 1 November 2014, a new procedure for qualified majority voting is used, also called the ‘double majority’ rule. The prerequisites for such a majority are: a majority of 55% of the member states (or 16 out of 28 member states) if the proposal is made by the Commission or the High Representative, or 72% if the proposal is made my somebody else, as well as a majority of 65% of the total EU population, regardless of who makes the proposal.
Ordinary Legislative Procedure – Key Facts
- Commission proposal followed by an up-to-three stage negotiating process. Decisions are however usually made at the first or second reading.
- Often referred to in the treaties as Article 251
- Nearly all decisions are taken through QMV in the Council
Ordinary Legislative Procedure – Key Features
- Clear veto powers for the Parliament
- Most democratic of the decision procedures
- Procedure where the Parliament has most power
- Largely ‘supranational’ process