Working paper

Working papers or working documents by the European Commission cover a wide variety of affairs, but are always geared towards providing information on certain policies, programmes and legislative proposals or in support of current policies. Working papers issue neither policies nor actions.


Working paper in detail

Area of application

Working papers and working documents support policy making and policy implementation. They are not meant to set new legislation. Broadly speaking, working papers and working documents serve on of the two following purposes:

  • those that serve as an outline or as basis for debates in the Council of Ministers on a topic, eliminating the need for the Commission to put forward a legislative proposal in early and tentative stages of policy making
  • those that aim to inform. Such papers and documents come in a wide variety of types; they range from impact assessments, consultations, policy evaluations, progress reports and documents to provide (technical) background to any given policy, policy area or programme

The majority of evaluations conducted by the EU are categorised as a seperate type of legal instrument, the report i.

Working papers and working documents tend to focus on facts and hard data. When using similar documents to confer political preferences the Commission uses communications i.

working papers and working documents are used in all policy areas.

Adopting working papers

The Commission draws up a working paper or working document and forwards it to the Council of Ministers. Barring rare exceptions all such papers and documents are also fowarded to the European Parliament.

In the case of working papers intended as a base for discussion these do not necessarily convey the Commission's definitive position.


Legal framework

Working papers of the Commission as legal instrument are not mentioned in the Treaties.


Further information