The European Parliament has published a Report on institutional and legal implications of the use of ‘soft law’ instruments. So-called ‘soft law’ instruments include green and white papers and also the communications issued by the European Commission. In this own-initiative report, the European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee gives a strongly worded opinion on the role, impact and legal weight of these instruments. It believes that in the context of the European Union soft law all too often constitutes an ambiguous and ineffective instrument which is liable to have a detrimental effect on Community legislation and should be used with caution, even where it is provided for in the EC Treaty.

The Legal Affairs Committee also argues that soft law cannot be a substitute for legal acts and instruments. It calls on the European Commission to consult the European Parliament on the adoption of these instruments, and to develop a modus operandi that guarantees the participation of the democratically elected bodies, possibly, by means of an inter-institutional agreement, that would enable a more effective monitoring of the need for the adoption of 'soft-law' instruments.

View Report on institutional and legal implications of the use of 'soft law' instruments, 6 August 2007