In order for Community legislation to be better understood and correctly implemented, it is essential to ensure that it is well drafted. Acts adopted by the Community institutions must be drawn up in an intelligible and consistent manner, in accordance with uniform principles of presentation and legislative drafting, so that citizens and economic operators can identify their rights and obligations and the courts can enforce them, and so that, where necessary, the Member States can correctly transpose those acts in due time.
Since the Edinburgh European Council in 1992, the need for better lawmaking — by clearer, simpler acts complying with principles of good legislative drafting — has been recognised at the highest political level. The Council and the Commission have both taken steps to meet that need
. It was reaffirmed by Declaration No 39 on the quality of the drafting of Community legislation, annexed to the Final Act of the Amsterdam Treaty. As a result of that Declaration, the three institutions involved in the procedure for the adoption of Community acts, the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission, adopted common guidelines intended to improve the quality of drafting of Community legislation by the Interinstitutional Agreement of 22 December 1998
This Guide has been drawn up by the three Legal Services pursuant to that Agreement to develop the content and explain the implications of those guidelines, by commenting on each guideline individually and illustrating them with examples. It is intended to be used by everyone who is involved in the drafting of the most common types of Community acts. Furthermore, it should serve as inspiration for any act of the institutions, whether within the framework of the Community Treaties or within that of the titles of the Treaty on European Union relating to the common foreign and security policy and police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters.
The Joint Practical Guide is to be used in conjunction with other more specific instruments, such as the Council’s Manual of Precedents
, the Commission’s Manual on Legislative Drafting
, the Interinstitutional style guide published by the Office for Official Publications of the European Communities
or the models in LegisWrite
. In addition, it will always be useful and often indispensable to refer to the relevant provisions of the Treaties and the key basic acts in a specific field.
Staff of the three institutions are urged to use the Guide and to contribute to it with their comments. These may be sent at any time to the Interinstitutional Group on the quality of drafting
, which will keep the Guide updated.
The three Legal Services hope that the Guide will assist all those involved, in any way, in drafting legislative acts within the institutions. They will all be able to work towards the common goal of presenting to European citizens legislation which makes clear the objectives of the European Union and the means it deploys to attain them.
For the Legal Service of the European Parliament
G. GARZÓN CLARIANA
For the Legal Service of the Council
For the Legal Service of the Commission
Brussels, 16 March 2000