The European Commission issues a wide variety of communications. Communications may include policy evaluations, commentary or explanations of action-programmes or brief outlines on future policies or arrangements concerning details of current policy. Policy proposals will never be put forward by means of a communication.
Area of application
The Commission usually issues communications to evaluate policies as well as to identify problems in a certain policy area. The Commission may clarify current policies and provide a framework on how to interpret policies. The interpretation is non-binding. When setting out the direction of future policies by means of a communication it is done in broad and general terms.
Communications can also be used to give public notice of concrete measures taken such as the execution of (action)programmes, affairs concerning the internal organisation or technical measures. Such communications facilitate existing policies and will never constitute new policies. None of the measures should have a direct effect on the member states.
The Commission also uses the working document i and the report i. In practice, both working documents and report have a lower political profile, and are often more technical in nature. In communications more emphasis is put on the political assessment of policies. When initiating a broad, well documented debate on future policies the Commission issues green papers i, as these are more elaborate then communications.
Communications are used in every policy area barring the common foreign and security policy.
The European Commission refers communications to the Council of Ministers, the European Parliament, and, dependant on the policy area, other relevant institutions of the European Union.
Communications of the Commission as legal instrument are not mentioned in the Treaties.