By means of a white paper the European Commission initiates debate on new policies it intends put forward at a later stage. White papers tend to be detailed documents and usually serve as basis for one or more legislative proposals.
Area of application
White paper are meant to prompt debate. The Commission outlines the goals it aims to achieve, and the means by which to achieve them. Often, white papers provide for specific and detailed proposals with addiotional commentaries. The Commission invites stakeholders and other interested parties to react and respond to the content of the white paper. A white paper provides stakeholders and other parties with the opportunity to exert influence in the policy making process, as the Commission takes all commentaries into account when drafting subsequent legislative proposals in the policy area of the white paper.
Any policy area where to EU has competence or where EU policies may be deemed relevant or appropiate can be the subject of a white paper.
The Commission may also issue green papers. These are used to initiate a more general and explorative debate in a policy area.
Adopting white papers
White papers are drawn up by the European Commission.
White papers as legal instrument are not mentioned in the Treaties. However, in the protocols of the Treaties the white paper is mentioned as a standard legal instrument.
-reference: protocol 1 TfEU title I art. 1