Initiative, right of

EU Commission (Photo:

In advanced democracies, the power of initiative is also one of the basic citizens' political rights.

In the EU, the EU Commission has the sole and exclusive right to bring forward proposals for EU laws. This makes the EU Commission a legislative machine for the continual production of EU laws. Except for these indirectly appointed commissioners, no person on earth has the exclusive right to propose European laws.

The Council and the European Parliament can encourage the EU Commission to propose introducing a new law, but the EU Commission decides on its own whether to follow the advice.

The EU Commission also decides the legal basis for its proposal and thus decides whether an area is to be regulated by binding laws or voluntary coordination.

The EU Commission's choice concerning a law’s legal basis and its legislative proposals can only be changed by a unanimous decision of the Council.


The Lisbon Treaty has maintained the EU Commission's exclusive right of initative, but within the areas of justice and home affairs and foreign policy, other rules apply: There, according to the Lisbon Treaty, a group consisting of 25% of the member states can also propose a law.

In foreign policy majority voting rules are used when the EU's Foreign Minister/High Representative - who is also the Vice-President of the EU Commission - makes a proposal at the specific request of the European Council.

Lisbon Treaty has also introduced a citizen’s initiative. 1,000,000 citizens can sign a petition and ask the Commission to take an initiative. The Commission is not obliged to act.