Codecision: the Ordinary Legislative Procedure
Under the Treaty of Lisbon, codecision officially became the ‘ordinary legislative procedure’ (Article 294 TFEU) and the general rule for passing legislation at EU level, covering the vast majority of areas of Union action. Its main characteristic is the adoption of legislation jointly and on an equal footing by Parliament and the Council. It starts with a legislative proposal from the Commission and consists of up to three readings, with the Parliament as the first of the co-legislators to adopt its first-reading position. The Council then either approves all of Parliament's amendments or adopts its own first-reading position.
The second reading follows a similar logic and pattern. However, there are key differences, in particular as regards the deadlines (while there are no deadlines at first reading, each of the co-legislators has three months, extendable by one month, to adopt its second-reading position) and the voting majorities in Parliament (at second reading, Parliament rejects or amends the Council’s first-reading position by an absolute majority, rather than a simple majority, of its Members). At each stage of the procedure, there is a possibility for the co-legislators to agree on a joint text at any reading and thereby conclude the procedure. Often such an agreement is reached during interinstitutional negotiations (so-called trilogues) that have become standard practice for the adoption of EU legislation. A majority of all procedures are concluded during the first and second readings.
Conciliation: the final stage of codecision
Conciliation is the third and final stage of the ordinary legislative procedure. On Parliament's side there are three Vice-Presidents responsible for conciliations.
The conciliation procedure is opened if the Council cannot accept all the amendments adopted by Parliament at second reading and consists of negotiations between the two co-legislators in the framework of the Conciliation Committee, with the objective to reach an agreement in the form of a 'joint text'. It has to be convened within 6 weeks (which may be extended by two) after the Council's second reading and has then 6 (or 8) weeks to draw up the 'joint text' from the date of its first meeting. If the Conciliation Committee does not reach an agreement, or if Parliament or the Council does not approve the 'joint text' at third reading, the act is deemed not to have been adopted.The Conciliation procedure has become the exception and is nowadays limited to very difficult files.
The Conciliation Committee consists of 56 (28+28) members from two delegations:
- the Council delegation, composed of one representative of each Member State (Ministers or their representatives), and
- the Parliament delegation, composed of an equal number of Members appointed by the groups and reflecting the overall political balance of the Parliament, and chaired by one of the vice-presidents responsible for conciliation. The Commission is represented by the Commissioner responsible for the file, and serves as a facilitator.
LEX: signature of the legislative act
The LEX signature is the last step of the process, where the text after its adoption is signed jointly by the Presidents of Parliament and the Council at a short ceremony which usually takes place during the Strasbourg plenary sessions. After signing, LEX texts are published in the Official Journal.
For more information:
please see the links under "background documents".