In accordance with the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), Member States implement European law by adopting measures for implementing legal acts into their national legislations. In accordance with the principles of subsidiarity and proximity, decisions shall be taken as close to the citizens as possible.
Implementing powers may also be attributed to the Commission so that legislation is implemented uniformly in the Member States, or to the Council for implementing acts related to the Common Foreign and Security Policy (Articles 24 and 26 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU)).
In exercising its implementing powers, the Commission is assisted by representatives of the Member States through committees, in accordance with the “comitology” procedure.
The committees are forums for discussion consisting of representatives from Member States and are chaired by the Commission. They enable the Commission to establish dialogue with national administrations before adopting implementing measures. The Commission ensures that measures reflect as far as possible the situation in each of the countries concerned.
Relations between the Commission and the committees are based on models set out in the Council "Comitology Decision". This decision has been amended several times. In 1999, it accorded the European Parliament a “right to scrutiny” in implementing legislative acts adopted by codecision. It also increased the transparency of the system by making committee documents more accessible to the Parliament and the public and by requiring the documents o be registered in a public register. The “Comitology Decision” was amended again in 2006. It introduced a new way of exercising implementing powers: the regulatory procedure with scrutiny.
The Treaty of Lisbon provides that the relationship between the Commission and its committees is henceforth organised on the basis of a regulation adopted by the European Parliament under the ordinary legislative procedure. Until such a regulation is adopted, the Council “Comitology Decision” adopted in 2006 is to apply.
Committees may be formed in accordance with the following typology:
- Advisory committees: these give their opinions to the Commission, which must try to take account of them;
- Management committees: they intervene when implementing measures relate to the management of programmes and when they have budgetary implications;
- Regulatory committees: they are responsible when the implementing measures relate to legislation applicable in the whole of the European Union (EU).
- Regulatory committees with scrutiny: these must allow the Council and the European Parliament to carry out a check prior to the adoption of measures of general scope designed to amend non-essential elements of a basic instrument adopted by codecision.