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Planning and proposing law

Right of initiative

The European Commission is responsible for planning, preparing and proposing new European legislation. This is called the 'right of initiative'.

EU laws defend the interests of the Union and its citizens as a whole. Citizens, businesses, civil society, public authorities or any other stakeholder who may be affected can have their say in the process.

Where EU laws and policies come from

The Commission proposes laws and policies on its own initiative. It can also respond to invitations to do so from:

  • the European Council (heads of state or government of each EU country)
  • the Council of the European Union (government ministers from each EU country)
  • the European Parliament (directly elected by EU citizens)
  • Citizens themselves, following a successful European Citizens’ Initiative

The Commission prepares laws and policies transparently, based on evidence and backed up by the views of citizens and stakeholders. This is referred to as Better Regulation.

Better Regulation: why and how

How they are planned

In its annual work programme, the Commission makes a political commitment to deliver on a certain number of priorities during a given calendar year.

Commission work programme

How their scope is defined

The Commission uses Call for evidence to define the scope of:

  • a politically sensitive and/or important new law or policy
  • an evaluation of an existing law or policy
  • a fitness check of a bundle of related existing laws and/or policies

A Call for evidence describes the problem to be tackled and objectives to be met, explains why EU action is needed, outlines policy options and describes the main features of the consultation strategy, including whether a public consultation with a questionnaire is needed.

The Call for evidence combines two steps that were previously sequential: the roadmap/inception impact assessment and the questionnaire (where relevant).

Have your say on recently published roadmaps and inception impact assessments

Evaluating laws

How their impact is assessed

When the expected impacts of an EU law or policy are likely to be significant, the Commission conducts an impact assessment before making its proposal.

The aim of this assessment is to analyse in more detail the issue to be addressed, whether action should be taken at EU level and the potential economic, social and environmental effects of the different solutions outlined.

The results of the impact assessment help inform the Commission's decision.

More on impact assessments

Have your say on aspects of impact assessments

Who can contribute

Anyone who is interested or might be affected by an existing or proposed law or policy can share their views, sending comments or position papers or reply to public consultations . This includes: public national, local and regional authorities, businesses, civil society organisations, and individual citizens..

How to contribute

There are various opportunities to contribute to EU law-making as it evolves – from the preparation phase through to proposals for new laws and evaluations of how existing EU laws are performing.

You can share your views and ideas in all 24 EU languages on Commission initiatives across all policy areas on the Have Your Say portal. It is possible to sign up for notifications regarding new developments as initiatives take shape, including after the adoption of legislation.

The Commission takes account of feedback when further developing the law or policy, or when evaluating several related laws or policies in a single policy area.

Contribute to law-making on the Have Your Say portal.

Other forms of consultation

The Commission may also seek expertise in a given area and target specific stakeholder groups through, for example:

  • targeted consultations
  • meetings
  • workshops
  • seminars
  • small-business panels
  • online discussion forums

How their quality is ensured

The Better Regulation guidelines and accompanying toolbox provide standards for quality when planning and proposing policies and laws.

Better regulation guidelines and toolbox

The independent Regulatory Scrutiny Board checks the quality of all the Commission's draft impact assessments, major evaluations and fitness checks.

In principle, an initiative accompanied by an impact assessment requires a positive opinion from the board to be adopted by the Commission.

The Regulatory Scrutiny Board

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