Legal Instruments and Procedures
To meet the objective of making the Treaty simpler, the legal instruments to be used by the Union in the future have been simplified, precisely defined and their number reduced. This satisfies one of the most important Austrian concerns, namely greater transparency and closeness to the citizens. The Constitution contains uniform procedures and legal instruments.
The Constitution distinguishes between six legal acts.
- The European law (corresponds to the regulation currently in use) and the European framework law (corresponds to the current directive) are legislative acts. They will be adopted under the ordinary legislative process at the initiative of the European Commission.
- The European regulation and the European decision are non-legislative legal acts.
- The European regulation has a "double function". It is either directly applicable, similarly to the current regulation, or it has to be implemented by the Member States, like the current directive.
- In comparison to the current decision the European decision is defined more broadly, as it may address not only specific addressees but also a more indefinite circle of addressees. The decision will also replace the current legal act under the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP).
- Recommendations and opinions are legal acts that are legally non-binding.
Moreover, the decision-making processes of the EU are to be simplified by establishing the current co-decision process as the normal legislative case under the new designation "ordinary legislative process" and by abolishing the cooperation procedure. In addition, only the consultation procedure and the right to consent will be maintained as models of EP participation in the legislative process. The exclusive right of the Commission to introduce initiatives in the field of legislation will be maintained to safeguard the interests of the Union as a whole and basically applies to all policy areas.
Deviations from the ordinary legislative process are only possible in cases which are exactly determined. Special procedures enable the adoption of laws by the Council or the Parliament alone (by involving the respective co-legislator). The CFSP, the ESDP and the area of freedom, security and justice are regulated by special provisions. For cooperation in the field of criminal law and police cooperation in the area of freedom, security and justice, the Commission or one quarter of the Member States have the right of initiative. The Member States, the Union Minister for Foreign Affairs or the Union Minister for Foreign Affairs with the support of the Commission have the right of initiative in the fields of the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the Common Security and Defence Policy; as far as the CFSP is concerned, unanimity is required unless the Constitution provides otherwise; moreover, the EP has a general right of consultation in these matters.
Thanks to a simpler language the constitutional provisions have become more transparent for the citizens, and it is also easier to read and understand them. The provisions which contain the legal basis for the adoption of legal acts indicate the types of legal acts and the procedure to be used. Together with the new typology of legal instruments this will make for enhanced transparency, more legal certainty and thus a higher standard of legality, which satisfies another important concern of Austria.