1. Community legislative acts shall be drafted clearly,
simply and precisely.
The drafting of a legislative act must be:
- clear, easy to understand and unambiguous;
- simple, concise, containing no unnecessary elements;
- precise, leaving no uncertainty in the mind of the reader.
This common-sense principle is also the expression of general principles of law, such as:
- the equality of citizens before the law, in the sense that the law should be accessible and comprehensible for all;
- legal certainty, in that it should be possible to foresee how the law will be applied.
The principle is particularly important in respect of Community legislative acts, which must fit into a system which is not only complex, but also multicultural and multilingual (see Guideline 5).
The aim in applying this principle is twofold: first, to render Community legislation more comprehensible; second, to avoid disputes resulting from poor drafting.
Provisions that are not clear may be interpreted restrictively by the Community courts. If that happens, the result will be just the opposite of what was intended by the incorporation into the text of grey areas intended to resolve problems in negotiating the provision (see Case C-6/98
ARD v Pro
Sieben  ECR I-7599).
There may obviously be a conflict between the requirement of simplicity and that of precision. Simplification is often achieved at the expense of precision and vice versa. In practice, a balance must be struck so that the provision is as precise as possible, without becoming too difficult to understand. That balance may vary according to the addressees of the provision (see Guideline 3).
The author should attempt to reduce the legislative intention to simple terms, in order to be able to express it simply. In so far as possible, everyday language should be used. Where necessary, clarity of expression should take precedence over felicity of style. For example, the use of synonyms and different expressions to convey the same idea should be avoided.
Drafting which is grammatically correct and respects the rules of punctuation makes it easier to understand the text properly in the drafting language as well as to translate it into the other languages (see Guideline 5).