The European Parliament’s right of initiative

Study 09-07-2020

The European Parliament is the only democratically elected body in the EU. Yet, unlike most parliaments, it has no formal right of legislative initiative. Initiating legislation lies almost solely with the EU's executive bodies, the Commission, and – to a limited but increasing extend – the European Council and the Council. This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the AFCO Committee, reveals that Parliament’s „own-initiative-reports” form a widely underestimated and unrecognized tool to informally shape the EU’s policy agenda. The study provides for a comprehensive analysis of non-legislative and legislative own-initiative reports. We argue that Parliament is able to create a cooperative environment in order to bring the Commission in line with its own legislative priorities and sometimes very specific legislative requests. Building on the empirical evidence of Parliament’s practice since 1993, we finally discuss means and ways for pragmatic reform and Treaty revision.