It is important that legislation takes account of the various interests of different stakeholders, be it the interests of interest groups (such as the social partners, for example) or the interests and concerns of civil society (citizen petitions, citizen initiatives, public consultations).
Whether a regulatory area is subject to Union legislation is specified in more detail in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The Union has only the powers transferred to it in the Treaties (principle of conferral of powers).
There are regulatory areas where only the EU may pass laws and binding legal instruments (exclusive competence). These include issues of the customs union and competition, the monetary policy for the euro-countries, the common commercial policy, the conservation of biological marine resources in the framework of the common fisheries policy and in certain cases also the conclusion of international agreements.
As far as issues of shared competence of EU and member states are concerned, both the EU and the member states can pass legal instruments. Shared competence applies to issues of the internal market, social policy, economic, social and territorial cohesion, agriculture and fishery, the environment, consumer protection and transport among others. The member states can, however, only exercise their competence if and to the extent the EU has decided not to exercise its competence. In this context, the principle of subsidiarity must be observed: the EU may only act in areas outside its exclusive competence where the EU – due to scope or effect of the intended objectives – is able to work more efficiently than the member states on a central, regional or local level.
In addition to that there are areas where the EU may only take measures to support, coordinate or complement measures taken by the member states. This means that the EU has no right of harmonisation in these areas and only takes on a supportive role beside the member states. These areas include, for example, the protection and improvement of human health, industry, culture and tourism.
Ordinary legislative procedure
The ordinary legislative procedure applies in 95% of the cases, i.e. the European Parliament (EP) and the Council decide together on a legislative proposal made by the European Commission. The ordinary legislative procedure starts with a legislative proposal made by the Commission (for a regulation, directive or resolution) that is submitted to the EP and the Council as well as to the national parliaments at the same time. The national parliaments are entitled to conduct a subsidiarity check within a period of eight weeks. In a next step, the President of the European Parliament refers the legislative proposal to the committee of the EP in charge for further deliberation and the member states discuss the proposal in the Council Working Parties.
In addition to the ordinary legislative procedure there are areas where the EP has to give its approval but is unable to amend the content (consent procedure).
Under the consultation procedure the European Parliament must be heard and has the right of giving its opinion. While being required to consult Parliament on legislative proposals, the Council is not bound by the EP's position. The EU treaties define which legislative procedure is to be applied in the individual cases. It is impossible to make a precise statement about what percentage of Austrian laws are influenced by EU legislation.