How to influence the lawmaking process in the EU

The legal framework of the European Union (EU) is designed to take into account the diverse interests of the Member States and the complex governance structure. These include several processes through which legislation is proposed, discussed, modified and adopted. The following overview will cover the basic legislative procedures in the EU, i.e. the ordinary legislative procedure, as well as the special legislative procedures. We also briefly discuss the role of implementing and delegated acts.

In the process of creating laws in the European Union, we distinguish the following key stages, which are important from the point of view of influencing which law will be implemented as a result of the process.

1. Pre-legislative measures

The process of creating EU legislation begins long before the proposals are formally drawn up. Seminars, thematic conferences and debates — often organised by EU institutions such as the European Commission and the European Parliament, or by European social partners and sectoral organisations such as Business & Science Poland — lay the foundations for future legislation. These forums allow for an initial discussion of issues, key topics and legislative approaches. Working groups in the European Commission, made up of experts, business representatives and NGOs, play a key role in shaping preliminary legislative proposals. At this stage, stakeholders have the opportunity to engage by participating in these discussions, offering insights and expertise that can give direction to future policy.

2. Legislative initiative

The European Commission has the exclusive right to initiate legislation, which is the stage at which the proposed policies begin to take shape. Following a well-defined issue, the Commission prepares a legislative proposal, often accompanied by an Impact Assessment (IA), to assess the potential effects of the legislation.

At this stage, Green Papers are also published, which serve to start a wider discussion, and then more detailed White Papers are produced, which form the basis for formal legislative proposals. Stakeholders have a critical time here to present their views on these texts, influencing the refinement of the legislative details. However, the scope for introducing entirely new proposals at this stage is significantly limited, which underlines the importance of early involvement in pre-legislative discussions.

3. Ordinary legislative procedure

The legislative initiative is communicated to three main bodies: the European Commission's Directorate-General (DG) responsible for the policy area, the Working Group in the Council of the European Union and the relevant committees in the European Parliament. It is crucial for stakeholders to establish close contacts with the European Parliament, in particular with the rapporteur and shadow rapporteurs from different political groups, as they can directly influence amendments to the legislative text.

Representation is also conducted by national government employees through the Permanent Representations to the EU. At this stage, the content of the regulations is refined, which makes it much more difficult to influence fundamental issues compared to the previous stages.

The European Union's legislative and regulatory processes offer stakeholders different avenues to influence policy-making, a practice commonly known as lobbying. These procedures are crucial for representing the interests of businesses, NGOs, citizens' initiatives, industry associations and others in the EU's complex political environment. Below we discuss the lobbying process in the EU, how rules are formulated, negotiated and implemented and where stakeholders can exert influence.

From the point of view of lobbying, the most important stage of the lawmaking process in the European Union is that which includes work in the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union.

Here is what the practical actions under this stage can look like:

European Parliament

1. Identification of key people: Lobbying organisations identify the MEPs who have the greatest influence on a given piece of legislation. Particular attention shall be paid to rapporteurs and shadow rapporteurs, who are responsible for preparing reports on legal proposals, and to the chairmen and members of the relevant parliamentary committees.

2. Transfer of materials and information: Lobbyists provide MPs with analyses, reports and other materials that may support their position. The objective is to present the benefits or risks of the proposed regulations from the perspective of the sector they represent.

3. Organisation of events: Lobbyists can organise conferences, seminars and workshops in Brussels or Strasbourg to which MEPs are invited. These types of events offer a platform for discussion and are an opportunity for direct contact with decision-makers.

Council of the European Union

1. Contacts with state representatives: In the Council of the EU, where the governments of the Member States are represented, lobbyists focus on contacts with the permanent representations of the Member States in Brussels. They are engaged in convincing these representatives of their arguments, which can then be presented during discussions in Council working groups or at ministerial meetings.

2. Monitoring progress: Lobbying organisations track how individual countries relate to different aspects of the legislative project in order to adapt their strategies and focus their efforts on those Member States that may be crucial to a given piece of legislation.

3. Influencing the national position: Lobbyists can also act at the national level, seeking to influence the shaping of national positions before they are formally presented in Brussels.

Joint action targeting both institutions

1. Media and public campaigns: Organisations often campaign to increase public awareness and support for their arguments, which can translate into political pressure on MEPs and Member State governments.

2. Coordination of actions: Large organizations or those that represent broad coalitions can coordinate their actions so that their message is consistent and stronger.

Lobbying activities must be conducted with due regard for ethics and transparency, and lobbying organisations are required to register their activities in the European Union's Transparency Register (Transparency Register).