Overview and context
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Nationally Determined Contribution (UNFCCC website)
The legislative process at the European Union (EU) level involves the European Commission (independent from national governments), the European Parliament (elected by EU citizens), and the Council of the European Union, which represents Member States. Most often, the Commission proposes new legislation, but it is the Council and Parliament together that pass the laws.
The main forms of EU legislation are directives, regulations and decisions. Directives and regulations can be adopted by the Council in conjunction with the European Parliament or by the Commission alone. A regulation is a general measure that is binding in all its parts, directly applicable in the Member States and addressed to everyone. A directive, on the other hand, is addressed to the member states. It is binding as to the result to be achieved, but leaves member states to choose the form and method they adopt to achieve it. The Commission is required to verify that member states transpose correctly and in due time the directives that have been adopted and can sanction them if they fail to do so. Decisions are EU laws relating to specific cases. They can be adopted by the Council (sometimes jointly with the European Parliament) or by the Commission.
The Commission can also publish Action Plans, White Papers, Green Papers, Commission regulations and Communications. An Action Plan serves to detail actions needed to reach the goals set in individual directives. A White Paper sets out the Commission’s policy programme in a specific area. Before a White Paper is written, a Green Paper is published, which is a consultative document including suggestions and options for new policy. Each single proposal for legislation announced in a White Paper or deriving from a policy initiative announced in it is subject to one or more rounds of open consultation and an impact assessment. White Papers, Green Papers and Communications can serve to identify future legislative proposals. Commission regulations primarily serve as administrative acts on the functioning of the EU Institutions. The Treaty of Lisbon (2009) created a new category of legislation, Delegated Acts, by which, under strict conditions, the legislator can delegate to the Commission the power to adopt acts amending non-essential elements of a legislative act, in particular to specify certain technical details.