Co-decision, see now Ordinary legislative procedure

The Council building (Photo: European Commission)

The previous explanation:

Co-decision is the general procedure in  law-making where the Commission proposes and the Council decides under a procedure giving growing influence to the European Parliament. It is now called the ordinary legislative procedure, see Article 294 TFEU in the Lisbon Treaty).

Previously the co-decision rule should be found in Article 251 TEC.

The procedure was called “co-decision” or the “conciliation procedure” because the European Parliament is allowed to propose amendments and to veto the proposed laws.  


- The Commission has a monopoly in proposing all EU laws. The European Parliament and the national parliaments cannot propose European laws.

- The Council then decides on the proposals by a qualified majority and the European Parliament by a simple or by absolute majority.

- The European Parliament can veto a law or propose amendments by an absolute majority of its members in a second reading. At first reading a simple majority is required.

If the Council does not accept the proposal of the absolute majority of the members of Parliament, a Conciliation Committee is established. 

- The results of the Conciliation Committee must be approved by a qualified majority in the Council and a simple majority in the European Parliament. Otherwise the law is not adopted.

The non-elected Commission has a strong role in legislation. They must approve the proposals for amendments from the Parliament if they shall have a chance of being adopted in the Council. If the Commission does not support an amendment it can only be approved in the Council by unanimity amongst all 27 member states.


In 2009 there were 79 co-decisions - 51 first readings, 20 second readings and 8 third readings.

In 2008 there were 138 co-decisions -  116 were taken in first reading, 21 in second reading and only one in the third reading.

In 2007 there were 107 co-decisions - 85 taken in first reading, 17 in second reading and 5 in third reading.

In 2006 there were 84 co-decisions -  48 in first reading, 30 in second reading and 6 in third reading.

In 2005 there were 71 co-decisions -  43 in first reading, 23 in second reading and 5 in the third reading.

In 2004 there were 80 co-decisions - 46 in first reading, 28 in second readings and 6 in  third reading.

Between 1999  and 2004 28 % of the decisions were taken on first reading. Between 2004 and 2009 72 % were taken on first reading.



See also

Democracy and The Convention working group on Simplification.