By means of a green paper the European Commission attempts to initiate a debate about possible future policies in a given area. Eventually, a green paper may serve as a basis for later legislative proposals.
Area of application
Green paper are meant to initiate a discussion. The Commission outlines the current state of affairs within a policy area or problem, and it will recommend possible future policies. The recommendations are general in nature. The Commission invites stakeholders and other interested parties to react and respond to the content of the green 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 green paper.
The Commission may also issue white papers. These are used to initiate debate on more detailed and specific policies the Commission intends to put forward.
Adopting white papers
Green papers are drawn up by the European Commission.
Green papers as legal instrument are not mentioned in the Treaties. However, in the protocols of the Treaties the green paper is mentioned as a standard legal instrument.
-reference: protocol 1 TfEU title I art. 1