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Atypical acts

Atypical acts are a category of act adopted by the European institutions. They may relate to the internal organisation of the European Union or have a more general application on specific policy areas.

INTRODUCTION

Atypical acts are acts adopted by the institutions of the European Union (EU). These acts are described as “atypical” because they are not part of the nomenclature of legal acts provided for by the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (Articles 288 to 292).

There is therefore a wide variety of atypical acts. Some are provided for by other provisions of the founding Treaties of the EU, while others have been developed by institutional practice.

Atypical acts are differentiated by their application, which is generally political. However, some may be binding, but this remains limited to the EU’s institutional framework.

Atypical acts provided for by the Treaties

The EU institutions’ Rules of Procedure are atypical acts. The founding Treaties provide that the EU institutions shall adopt their own Rules of Procedure.

The Rules of Procedure lay down the organisation, operation and internal rules of procedure of the EU institutions. They have binding effect only for the institution concerned.

The founding Treaties also provide for other types of act adopted in the context of political dialogue between the EU institutions. These acts are essentially intended to facilitate work and cooperation between the institutions. For example, in the context of the procedure for the adoption of international agreements, the Council must send negotiating guidelines to the Commission for the negotiation of the agreements.

The institutions may also go further by organising their cooperation by means of interinstitutional agreements. These types of agreement are also atypical acts. They may have binding effect, but only for the institutions which have signed the agreement.

Atypical acts not provided for by the Treaties

Each of the EU institutions has developed a series of instruments in the context of its own activity.

For example, the European Parliament expresses some of its political positions at international level by means of resolutions or declarations. Similarly, the Council regularly adopts conclusions, resolutions or guidelines following its meetings. These acts essentially express the institutions’ opinion on certain European or international issues. They have general application but do not have binding effect.

The Commission also adopts several atypical acts which are specific to it. These are communications, which generally present new policy programmes. The Commission also adopts green papers which are intended to launch public consultations on certain European issues. It uses these to gather the necessary information before drawing up a legislative proposal. Following the results of the green papers, the Commission sometimes adopts white papers setting out detailed proposals for European action.

Last updated: 17.09.2010
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