Commission sets guidelines for public consultations

On 11 December, the Commission established
general principles and standards applicable to public
consultations of interested parties.

With the communication adopted on 11 December, the
Commission follows up on its reform commitments in this
area. It is, at the same time, a direct contribution to the
Action Plan for Better Regulation and to the new approach
to impact assessment, both of which the Commission adopted
simultaneously. The general principles and minimum
standards concerning public consultation are intended to
offer a general and flexible framework for consultation of
civil society and stakeholders, ensuring transparency and
access to consultations, feedback to contributors and a
reasonable minimum delay for responding.

The Commission’s communication outlines
how its consultation relationship with interest parties
will be underpinned by the following fundamental

  • participation;
  • openness and accountability;
  • effectiveness;
  • coherence.

The minimum standards for public
consultations are the following:

  • All communications relating to consultations should
    be clear and concise, and should include all necessary
    information to facilitate responses;
  • When defining the target group(s) in a consultation
    process, the Commission should ensure that the relevant
    parties have an opportunity to express their
  • The Commission should ensure adequate
    awareness-raising publicity and adapt its communications
    channels to meet the needs of all target audiences;
  • The Commission should provide sufficient time for
    planning and responses. The Commission should strive to
    allow at least 8 weeks for reception of written responses
    and 20 working days notice for meetings;
  • Receipt of contributions should be acknowledged.


In its White Paper on European Governance, the Commission
committed itself to contribute to a reinforced culture of
consultation and dialogue in the EU. It conducted a
consultation on general principles and minimum standards
concerning public consultation in mid-2002.


The general principles and minimum standards for public
consultations will apply from the beginning of 2003 and
with regard to all major Commission policy initiatives.


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