What are some examples of delegated authority

EUR-Lex Access to EU law


Delegated acts are non-legislative acts adopted by the European Commission to amend or supplement legal provisions.

As part of the Lisbon Treaty, the European Union (EU) system for comitology was reformed. "Comitology (committee system)" refers to a procedure used for EU decision-making in which the European Commission is empowered to take decisions in the form of non-legislative acts through a basic legal act issued by the European Parliament and the Council, usually in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure to issue:

  • either to amend or supplement basic acts (delegated acts);
  • on aspects that are often highly technical but essential for the implementation of this basic act (implementing acts).

Article 290 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union empowers the Commission to adopt delegated acts. Delegated acts are adopted by the Commission after consulting committees made up of experts from all EU Member States.

The Commission's powers to adopt delegated acts are subject to strict conditions:

  • the delegated act cannot change any essential elements of the existing basic act;
  • the basic act concerned must specify the objectives, content, scope and duration of the delegation;
  • the European Parliament and the Council may revoke the delegation or object to the delegated act.

Both the Council and the Parliament can revoke the delegation of power to the Commission. In addition, a delegated act adopted by the Commission can only enter into force if the Council or Parliament does not raise an objection within a deadline set in the basic act.

Delegated acts are used, for example, when legal acts need to be adapted to technical or scientific advances. For example, in the EU regulation on the labeling of foodstuffs (Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011), the Commission is empowered to transfer the definition of “engineered nanomaterials” to scientific and technical progress for a period of five years adapt.