Consultation procedure (CNS)

This procedure is one of the special legislative procedures used in the European Union. The consultation procedure is used for politically sensitive issues, where the member states bear responsibility for policy making and where the member states make decisions based on unanimity.

The word consultation refers to the role the European Parliament plays in this procedure. It is required that the EP is consulted. The legislative role lies solely with the Council of Ministers.



consultation procedure


Consultation procedure in detail

Step 1: initiative

The European Commission submits a proposal to the Council of ministers and to the European Parliament. In a few cases the member states, too, may submit a proposal to the Council.

Step 2: approval of the proposal

The European Parliament, by a majority of votes cast, delivers an advice on the proposal. The EP may also suggest amendments to the proposal.

The Council of Ministers can either approve or disapprove the proposal. The Council is not bound to follow the advice given by Parliament nor the proposed amendments should these have been suggested. The Council decides on the proposal by qualified majority vote or by unanimity, depending on the policy area concerned.

Mandatory advice

Before deciding on the proposal, the Council of Ministers must also consult the Committee of the Regions or/and the Economic and Social Committee if the proposal concerns a policy area relevant to these institutions.


In decisions regarding guidelines for the employment policies or the powers of the future European Public Prosecutor the European Council decides, rather then the Council of Ministers. The role of the European Parliament remains the same.


Application of the consultation procedure

The consultation procedure applies to a number of policy areas. These are:

  • some matters concerning police cooperation such as rules regarding the operation of police in the territory of other member states and operational aspects of police cooperation
  • harmonization of regulations regarding personal documents
  • family law
  • dealing with emergency situations in asylum policy
  • some matters concerning civil rights such as being able to vote for municipal councils when living in another member state, consular protection and free travel within the EU
  • some asects of social policy such general guidelines for employment policy, laws on termination, the right of collective representation and perogatives for working in other member states
  • fiscal aspects of enviromental and energy policy
  • spatial planning and watermanagement
  • establishment of specific research programs and institutions
  • some specific rights derived of internal market regulation such as: cabotage, contract law and setting restrictions on free movement of capital
  • rules on state aid
  • harmonisation of administrative regulations
  • harmonisation of taxation of businesses
  • exempting public services of the rules of the internal market
  • provisions for oversight of the European Central Bank
  • the introduction of the euro by a member state
  • rules for dealing with excessive deficits of member states
  • the jurisdiction of the possible future European Public Prosecutor
  • the appointment of members of the Court of Auditors
  • provisions relating to outlining the system of own resources of the EU
  • agreements with third countries on exchange rates of the euro
  • the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice when dealing with European rules on intellectual property

In addition, the consultation procedures is used in a number of technical matters.


Legal framework

The consulation procedure is based on the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union. For each policy area it is indicated should this procedure applies to any part of it.


Further information