Glossary of summaries

Help Export PDF Print this page 

Community and intergovernmental methods

As a general rule, EU decisions are taken by means of the 'Community' method involving the use of the ordinary legislative procedure, as defined in Article 294 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

The Community method is characterised by

  • the sole right of the European Commission to initiate legislation;
  • the co-decision power between the Council and the European Parliament, and
  • the use of qualified majority voting in Council.

It contrasts with the intergovernmental method of operation used in decision-making, mainly on Common Foreign and Security Policy and aspects of police and judicial cooperation. This method has the following salient features:

  • the Commission's right of initiative is shared with the EU countries or confined to specific areas of activity;
  • the European Council, explicitly mentioned in the Lisbon Treaty, often plays a key role;
  • the Council generally acts unanimously;
  • the European Parliament has a purely consultative role.