The EU’s standard decision-making procedure is known as 'Ordinary Legislative Procedure’ (ex "codecision"). This means that the directly elected European Parliament has to approve EU legislation together with the Council (the governments of the 27 EU countries).
Before the Commission proposes new initiatives it assesses the potential economic, social and environmental consequences that they may have. It does this by preparing 'Impact assessments' which set out the advantages and disadvantages of possible policy options.
The Commission also consults interested parties such as non-governmental organisations, local authorities and representatives of industry and civil society. Groups of experts give advice on technical issues. In this way, the Commission ensures that legislative proposals correspond to the needs of those most concerned and avoids unnecessary red tape.
Citizens, businesses and organisations can participate in the consultation procedure via the website Public consultations.
National parliaments can formally express their reservations if they feel that it would be better to deal with an issue at national rather than EU level.
The European Parliament and the Council review proposals by the Commission and propose amendments. If the Council and the Parliament cannot agree upon amendments, a second reading takes place.
In the second reading, the Parliament and Council can again propose amendments. Parliament has the power to block the proposed legislation if it cannot agree with the Council.
If the two institutions agree on amendments, the proposed legislation can be adopted. If they cannot agree, a conciliation committee tries to find a solution. Both the Council and the Parliament can block the legislative proposal at this final reading.
Ever wondered how EU decisions are made? Here's our 20 second guide.
How draft proposals advance through the levels and hidden bonus rounds of codecision before becoming EU law or hitting Game Over.