Guidelines are non-binding acts that set out a framework for future acts in a policy area. These frameworks tend to be broad in scope and stated in general terms, and the 'future acts' often take the form of legally binding instruments. The EU issues guidelines in a limited number of policy areas.
The guideline as legal instrument ought not be confused with the practical guidelines the European Commission issues in support of correct implementation of policies.
Area of application
Guidelines are issued in order to coordinate national policies in the fields of macro-economic policy, employment policies, the common foreign and security policy and, of a more practical nature, the trans-European networks. In so doing the member states might achieve a greater amount of compatibility and unity in these policy areas. Member states should take guidelines into consideration when making policy, yet the member states are given wide berth as to how they might incorporate the guidelines in their national policies.
In the case of macro-economic policy and employment policies the extent to which guidelines are implemented are monitored. Should a member state fail to take heed of a guideline a recommendation i is issued.
Guidelines are proposed by the Council of Ministers or the European Commission, dependant on the policy area.
Guidelines are decided upon by the European Council or the Council of Ministers, dependant on the policy area.
The advice is based on the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and Treaty on the functioning of the European Union (TfEU).
-common foreign and security policy : TEU title V chapter 2 art. 25, 26
-employment policies: part three TfEU title IX art. 148
-macro-economic policy: part three TfEU title XIII chapter 1 art. 121
-trans-European networks: part three TfEU title XVI art. 171