Interinstitutional Agreement on better law-making

With codification, recasting, self-regulation, co-regulation, impact assessments, consultations etc., the European institutions have at their disposal a wide range of tools for improving and simplifying European legislation. In this Interinstitutional Agreement they undertake to work together to improve the law-making process.


Interinstitutional Agreement on Better Law-Making.


This Interinstitutional Agreement concerns the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union (EU) and the Commission. This Agreement establishes the general principles and arrangements for cooperation between the institutions, particularly during the legislative process. The Agreement aims to optimise the drafting and implementation of Union law.

Improving interinstitutional cooperation and transparency

The three institutions have agreed first of all on better coordination of the legislative process. This means that they will inform each other in good time of their plans and their work, for example by means of their annual legislative timetables or by synchronising the handling of common dossiers by the preparatory bodies in each institution.

The three institutions undertake to improve transparency and the accessibility of information for the public, for example by more broadcasting of public debates, through the systematic use of new communication technologies, by giving the public greater access to Eur-Lex and lastly by holding joint press conferences once they have reached agreement during the ordinary legislative procedure.

For each proposal the Commission will explain and justify to the European Parliament and to the Council its choice of legislative instrument and the legal basis. It will ensure that the measure proposed is simple and necessary.

Promoting co-regulation and self-regulation

The EU legislates only where it is necessary. It is sometimes useful to resort to alternative methods of regulation, such as co-regulation or self-regulation.

Co-regulation is a mechanism whereby attaining the objectives laid down in a legislative act is entrusted to parties which are recognised in the field (economic operators, social partners, non-governmental organisations, etc.). The basic legislative act therefore defines the framework and extent of the co-regulation. The parties concerned are then able to conclude voluntary agreements between themselves in order to achieve the objectives of the legislative act.

Self-regulation means the possibility for economic operators, the two sides of industry, non-governmental organisations or associations to adopt amongst themselves and for themselves common guidelines at European level. These guidelines may, for example, take the form of a code of conduct or a sectoral agreement. They do not generally imply that the European institutions have adopted any particular stance. However, the latter reserve the right to adopt a legislative act when it concerns an area for which the EU has competence.

Improving the quality of legislation

The three institutions have undertaken to produce legislation that is clear, simple and effective. The Commission is asked to conduct pre-legislative consultations and to make public the results of those consultations. It will continue to carry out impact assessments for major items of draft legislation, in order to evaluate their social, economic and environmental consequences. If the European Parliament or the Council makes a substantial amendment, an assessment of the impact of that amendment is desirable. In order to improve the consistency of texts, legal verification needs to be carried out before an act is finally adopted.

Improving the transposition and application of Union law

In order to encourage Member States to transpose Union law properly within the prescribed period, Directives must contain a binding time limit of not more than two years for the transposition of their provisions into national law. If a Member State fails to do this, the Commission can launch an infringement procedure. It will draw up annual reports on the transposition of Directives in the various Member States.

Simplifying legislation

Legislation can be simplified in various ways: by repealing acts that are no longer applied or through the codification or recasting of acts. Codification (or consolidation) is a procedure that consists of repealing the acts concerned and replacing them with a single act containing the unchanged substance of those acts. Recasting consists of the adoption of a new legal act incorporating in a single text both the substantive amendments it makes to an earlier act and the unchanged provisions of that act. The new legal act replaces and repeals the earlier act.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Interinstitutional Agreement



OJ C 321 of 31.12.2003


Interinstitutional Agreement of 22 December 1998 on common guidelines for the quality of drafting of Community legislation [OJ C 73 of 17.3.1999]. This agreement lays down guidelines for the quality of the drafting of Community legislation. For example, all acts are drawn up in accordance with a standard structure (title, preamble, enacting terms, annexes). The content of acts must be drafted in a concise and homogenous manner.

Interinstitutional Agreement of 20 December 1994 on an accelerated working method for official codification of legislative texts [OJ C 102 of 4.4.1996]. This interinstitutional agreement points out that codification does not involve any substantive amendment of the acts concerned. Proposals for codification from the Commission are to be examined by the European Parliament and the Council by means of an accelerated procedure.

Interinstitutional Agreement of 28 November 2001 on a more structured use of the recasting technique for legal acts [OJ C 77 of 28.3.2002]. This interinstitutional agreement lays down the rules for recasting, which must be justified on grounds explicitly set out in the explanatory memorandum. Precise indications must be given as to which provisions of the previous act remain unchanged.

Last updated: 28.10.2011