Better Law-Making — Agreement between EU institutions
Interinstitutional Agreement between the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission on Better Law-Making
It aims to improve the way the EU makes laws by ensuring that the European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission (‘the 3 Institutions’) are committed to sincere and transparent cooperation throughout the entire legislative cycle.
The agreement replaces the Interinstitutional Agreement of 16 December 2003 without prejudice to the Framework Agreement on relations between the Parliament and the Commission of 20 October 2010.
Annual and multiannual programming
At the beginning of each legislature, the 3 Institutions will agree on multiannual priorities. In addition, they will each year adopt a joint declaration on annual interinstitutional priorities based on the Commission’s annual work programme. The first such Joint Declaration was adopted for 2017.
The agreement establishes that the Commission should carry out impact assessments for all its major legislative and non-legislative proposals. The elements that should be covered by impact assessments include:
economic, environmental and social impacts;
subsidiarity and proportionality;
impacts on competitiveness and SMEs in particular;
The Commission will rely on a Regulatory Scrutiny Board, partly made up of external experts, to carry out an objective quality check of the Commission’s impact assessment.
The Parliament and the Council may carry out impact assessments on their substantial amendments when they consider this appropriate and necessary. In addition, the agreement sets rules for public and stakeholder consultations and ex post evaluation of EU legislation.
The Agreement stresses the importance of enhancing the transparency of legislative procedures, including:
agreeing improved practical arrangements between the 3 Institutions for cooperation and information-sharing on international agreements;
an appropriate handling of trilogues*;
joint public announcements of the successful outcome of the legislative process;
a joint database on legislative files allowing clear traceability of the various steps of the legislative process.
Delegated and implementing acts
The Agreement sets rules to clarify and facilitate the use of delegated and implementing acts in accordance with Articles 290 and 291 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and contains an annex with standard clauses to this effect. In particular, it was agreed that:
the Commission will consult EU countries’ experts in the preparation of delegated acts, and Parliament and Council experts will have equal access to all related meetings and documents;
there will be a prompt alignment of all pre-Lisbon Treaty files;
a further negotiation will take place to specify non-binding delineation criteria for delegated and implementing acts (i.e. non-binding criteria for the application of Articles 290 and 291 TFEU); and
a public register for delegated acts will be set up (the Interinstitutional Register of Delegated Acts ‘DelReg’ has been in operation since the end of 2017).
Implementing and applying EU law
The agreement includes 3 innovations to help improve and clarify the implementation and application of EU law:
1.EU countries must clearly inform the public of measures taken in EU countries that incorporate EU law into national law or implement EU law, in line with the Joint Declarations of 2011 regarding explanatory documents which accompany the notification of such measures;
2.EU countries are asked to clearly identify in the transposing act (i.e. the act that incorporates the EU legislation into national law) or associated document when they add aspects to their national law which are in no way related to what the EU act contains (‘gold plating’);
3.the Commission should include any instances of gold plating in its annual report to the Parliament and the Council.
The Agreement requires the 3 institutions to cooperate to simplify legislation and reduce burdens whilst ensuring that the objectives of the legislation are met. The 3 Institutions confirm:
their commitment to using the technique of recasting to modify existing legislation more frequently and, where recasting is not appropriate, codifying legislative texts as soon as possible after the adoption of an amending act;
their will to promote the most efficient regulatory instruments, such as harmonisation and mutual recognition, to avoid over-regulation and reduce administrative burdens.
The Commission presents an annual burden survey of the results of the EU’s efforts to simplify legislation and reduce administrative burdens, making use of its Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT).
Implementation of the Agreement
Paragraph 50 of the Agreement envisages that the 3 Institutions regularly take stock of its implementation via the Interinstitutional Coordination Group and that they meet annually at political level to evaluate progress.
It has applied since 13 April 2016.
Trilogues: informal tripartite meetings attended by representatives of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission.
Interinstitutional agreement between the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission on Better Law-Making (OJ L 123, 12.5.2016, pp. 1-14)
European Parliament decision of 9 March 2016 on the conclusion of an Interinstitutional Agreement on Better Law-Making between the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission (2016/2005(ACI)) (OJ C 50, 9.2.2018, pp. 91–97)
Joint Declaration on the EU’s legislative priorities 2018-2019 (OJ C 446, 29.12.2017, pp. 1–3)
Consolidated version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union — Part Six — Institutional and financial provisions — Title I — Institutional provisions — Chapter 2 — Legal acts of the Union, adoption procedures and other provisions — Section 1 — The legal acts of the Union — Article 290 (OJ C 202, 7.6.2016, p. 172)
Consolidated version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union — Part Six — Institutional and financial provisions — Title I — Institutional provisions — Chapter 2 — Legal acts of the Union, adoption procedures and other provisions — Section 1 — The legal acts of the Union — Article 291 (OJ C 202, 7.6.2016, p. 173)
Consolidated version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union — Part Six — Institutional and financial provisions — Title I — Institutional provisions — Chapter 2 — Legal acts of the Union, adoption procedures and other provisions — Section 2 — Procedures for the adoption of acts and other provisions — Article 295 (OJ C 202, 7.6.2016, p. 175)
Joint Declaration on the EU’s legislative priorities for 2017 (OJ C 484, 24.12.2016, pp. 7–8)
Statement of the European Parliament and of the Commission on the occasion of the adoption of the Interinstitutional Agreement on Better Law-Making of 13 April 2016 (OJ L 124, 13.5.2016, p. 1)
Joint Political Declaration of 28 September 2011 of Member States and the Commission on explanatory documents (OJ C 369, 17.12.2011, p. 14)
Joint Political Declaration of 27 October 2011 of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on explanatory documents (OJ C 369, 17.12.2011, p. 15)
Framework agreement on relations between the European Parliament and the European Commission (OJ L 304, 20.11.2010, pp. 47-62)
Interinstitutional Agreement on better law-making
(OJ C 321, 31.12.2003, pp. 1–5)
The EU’s agenda for better regulation
Communication COM(2015) 215 final — the EU’s agenda for better regulation
This communication sets out a package of reforms for improving EU law and policymaking to ensure that laws and policies are based on sound evidence, are well designed and bring tangible and sustainable benefits for EU citizens.
The package builds on existing procedures and processes for improving EU law and policymaking, including impact assessments, evaluations, public consultations and the regulatory fitness and performance programme (REFIT).
Specifically, the package provides for:
greater openness and transparency through more extensive public consultation and better explanations of proposed laws and policies;
closer scrutiny of existing laws and policies, for instance through the establishment of a new, strengthened Regulatory Scrutiny Board to assess the quality of impact assessments and check evaluations of existing laws;
a proposal for a new interinstitutional agreement between the Parliament, the Council and the European Commission which will aim to ensure that all parties legislate better, for example, by prioritising initiatives that improve existing laws and conducting impact assessments of any substantial amendments by the Parliament or Council to legislation proposed by the Commission;
better evaluation of existing legislation notably through a strengthened REFIT programme.
Through REFIT, the EU assesses existing EU legislation to make it more effective and efficient without compromising policy objectives. REFIT will become more targeted, looking at the most serious sources of inefficiency and unnecessary burdens, and better embedded in the Commission’s decision-making process and will also quantify the costs and benefits of actions wherever possible;
the creation of a REFIT Platform to advise the Commission on identifying initiatives to make EU law more effective and efficient;
new actions to reduce burdens in areas such as public procurement, for example, by creating a standard data form for small and medium-sized businesses in place of the current complex procurement documentation;
better implementation of EU laws through enhanced cooperation with EU countries on ways to ensure compliance with them.
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions ‘Better regulation for better results — An EU agenda’ (COM(2015) 215 final of 19.5.2015)
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions — Completing the Better Regulation Agenda: Better solutions for better results (COM(2017) 651 final, 24.10.2017)
Commission staff working document — Overview of the Union’s efforts to simplify and to reduce regulatory burdens accompanying the document Communication Completing the Better Regulation Agenda: Better solutions for better results (SWD(2017) 675 final, 24.10.2017)