Published Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The New Comitology Rules - Delegated and implementing acts 

When the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament adopt a new law, a legal framework is created, including objectives and timeframe. However, more detailed measures (e.g. lists of substances or products) sometimes still need to be defined. These implementing measures are delegated to the European Commission under a procedure called ‘comitology’. Through comitology, the Commission executes its implementing powers via numerous ‘comitology committees’ composed of policy experts representing the Member States and chaired by the Commission.

The Lisbon Treaty substantially modified the framework for the Commission’s implementing powers. Comitology was modified, to distinguish between more politically relevant and less important, administrative issues. Parliament and Council have been put on an equal footing in relation to the conferral of ‘delegated’ and ‘implementing’ powers and the Treaty provides two legal frameworks to reflect more closely the different nature of these two types of acts.

Delegated acts are designed for politically sensitive matters that amend, delete or supplement non-essential elements of the legislative act (e.g. adding a substance to an annex of banned products). The procedure for adopting delegated acts replaces the current ‘regulatory procedure with scrutiny’, with one major change being the abolition of the comitology committees

Implementing acts are the continuation of ‘traditional’ comitology in which the Commission is empowered to implement EU legislation under the supervision of comitology committees.

This paper explains these new procedures and gives examples of how they might, or will, apply in the area of EU biodiversity and biodiversity-related legislation. It also identifies various potential intervention points for parties with a mandate to contribute to these ‘backstage’ processes of EU decision-making.