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The Consultation procedure is one of the legislative procedures of the European Community, the 1st of the three pillars of the European Union.

Under this procedure the European Commissionmarker sends its proposal to both the Council of the European Union and the European Parliamentmarker, but it is the Council that officially consults Parliament and other bodies such as the Economic and Social Committeemarker and the Committee of the Regions. The Council is not bound by Parliament's position or by any other consulted body, but only by the obligation to consult the Parliament. In some cases, consultation is compulsory because the legal basis requires it and the proposal cannot become law unless Parliament has given its opinion, however there is no time limit for giving its opinion, in these cases the procedure is more than just polite advice (keep in mind, that opinion is given before council has decided). If the Council amends a Commission proposal it must do so unanimously.

The procedure applies in particular to the Common Agriculture Policy.

In its opinion on the Intergovernmental Conference in February 2000,the European Commissionmarker argued in favour of extending the procedureto the conclusion of trade agreements between the Community and oneor more countries or international organisations.

Consultation can be optional and the Commission will simply suggestthat the Council consult Parliament.

In all cases, Parliament can:

The areas covered by the consultation procedure are:
  • Police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters
  • Revision of the Treaties
  • Discrimination on grounds of sex, race or ethnic origin, religion or political conviction, disability, age or sexual orientation
  • EU citizenship
  • Agriculture
  • Transport (where it is likely to have a significant impact on certain regions)
  • Competition rule
  • Tax arrangements
  • Economic policy
  • "Enhanced co-operation" - i.e. the arrangement allowing a group of member states to work together in a particular field even if the others do not wish to join in yet.

In some areas, such as taxation, the Council's decision has to be unanimous.

Until January 1, 2005, visas, asylum, immigration and other policies associated with the free movement of persons were also legislated by the consultation procedure. The Council Decision (2004/927/EC) transferred these legislative areas to the codecision procedure.

See also: Cooperation procedure, codecision procedure.


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