Delegated directive

This legally binding act of the European Union establishes a set of objectives which all member states of the European Union must fulfil. The member states are free to choose the manner they see fit to fulfil the required objectives.

Delegated directives, however, are limited in what they can set out to regulate. Delegated directives can be used to supplement existing legislation on non-essential parts or amend specific and non-essential elements of a legislative act.

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Delegated directive in detail

Area of application

Delegated directives need to be transposed into national legislation and as such, have no direct effect. When transposing delegated directives into national legislation the general restraints for delegated acts - delegated acts are limited to work out or amend non-essential parts of an existing legislative act - place certain limitations on how member states achieve the goals set out in a delegated act.

Delegated directives cannot address anything outside of the framework of an existing legal act and a delegated regulation cannot broaden the scope of the legislative act it seeks to supplement or amend. A delegated directive addresses a specific, delineated topic.

Delegated directives are mainly used to ensure proper implementation of legislative acts, as they flesh out and address detailed and often highly technical issues on which little or no political controversy exists, but that require attention and the member states involvement to ensure it meshes well with national conditions. The politically sensitive and key elements of legislation will have been addressed in the original legislative act.

Legal entities cannot make direct appeals to delegated directive in a court of law. However, private parties can invoke delegated directives when national governments failed to adhere to the deadline for transposing a delegated directive and that states' current legislation conflicts with the goals set out in the delegated directive.

Adopting delegated directives

For adopting delegated directives the procedure or delegated acts i is used. The European Commission may, based on a legislative act, put forward a proposal for a delegated directive. Experts drawn from the member states are then consulted. Both the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers can raise objections to the proposal, as well as raise objections to a delegated directive that is in force.

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Legal framework

The delegated directive is based on the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union (TfEU).

  • instrument: part six TfEU title 1 chapter 2 section 1 art. 290

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Further information