In relation to this popular q, I don't recall seeing riders in EU legislation or the matter even being discussed in relation to it, so I'm guessing some form of single-subject rule is enforced even if it's not explicit. But I cannot find any further discussion on this regarding EU legislation (and I don't mean national legislation of member countries). So, are there such anti-rider provisions in EU legislation/treaties or maybe in EU Parliament procedures?

  • You might want to take a look at europarl.europa.eu/infographic/legislative-procedure/… . Essentially, European Parliament (Elected MEPs) and Council of the European Union (Ministers related to the topic from all EU Governments. Also, not the European Council) pass any law back and forth until both agree. One cannot add a rider after the other already agreed on the law, without the law going back to the other for confirmation.
    – user20672
    Jan 5, 2021 at 7:56
  • @Morfildur: I roughly knew the problem amendments can cause. Basically that's part of the answer, so you could write it as one. On the other hand, the US House and Senate also have to agree on a text eventually. Jan 5, 2021 at 8:02
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    Would the 'adherence to the rule of law' clause in the EU budget count as a rider? bbc.com/news/world-europe-54964858 Jan 6, 2021 at 17:31
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    @DaveGremlin: maybe. As I understand it, the rule on rule of law was actually adopted previously. The rider in this case would actually be exception that made after Poland and Hungary vetoed the budget. Jan 6, 2021 at 17:32

1 Answer 1


My own searching leads me to multiple articles (example) pointing to the exact same instance of a legislative rider, and I can't find any others. Basically, in the regulation establishing Member State fishing quotas for 2007, there's a clause allowing limited fishing by electric current, a normally forbidden practice in EU waters (for the legislative source text, see here Annex III section 4, on page 178).

Fishing regulation is nowhere near a subject area I would consider myself knowledgeable, but I'll just note it's debatable whether adding regulation of fishing methods to a law on fishing quotas could be considered a rider.

Other than that, I cannot find a reference to this in the treaties (see TFEU Chapter 2 for the EU legislative process, especially Article 294 for the ordinary legislative procedure used in most cases). So while it seems to be technically allowed, I would argue the decentralized structure of the ordinary legislative process makes riders nearly impossible in practice for three reasons:

  1. Unusually for Western political set-ups, the legislative process is formally initiated by the executive body of the EU, the European Commission. In theory, the Commission is supposed to "defend the interests of the EU as a whole," arguably riders would normally be counter-productive to smooth running of the EU.
  2. After the Commission proposes the legislation it must be approved by two further institutions, the Council and the Parliament. Either might object to the rider or potentially just amend it out (which sometimes requires unanimity in the Council though). In theory, this means the legislative process would be much smoother with focussed legislation. Note that even for related subject matter, controversial aspects could risk failing to pass uncontroversial aspects, eg. the controversy surrounding Articles 15 & 17 of the DSM Copyright Directive in an otherwise uncontroversial directive.
  3. It is possible the rider is in a subject area requiring unanimity in the Council thus making the legislation as a whole more difficult to pass. This is less relevant these days as the Treaty of Lisbon moved most subject areas to qualified majority voting, but it could have played a more prominent role in the past.
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    I agree that riders would usually be counter-productive, given the diverse bodies that need to agree or at least are allowed to add comments/opinions (this includes several comittees as well as national parliaments) before the legislation can be accepted. See also the Handbook on Ordinary Legislative Procedure.
    – Hulk
    Jan 5, 2021 at 6:24
  • So to be accepted, a rider would have to be acceptable (or missed) by both a majority of the parliament (not nearly as strictly voting along party lines as national parliaments often do, as the incentives are different - there is no "government" that represents a faction of the parliament and has a certain majority behind it) and the council (i.e. the national governments).
    – Hulk
    Jan 5, 2021 at 6:40
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    @Hulk Yes, that's my impression too. I did assume a little in my answer that the rider might be controversial, though some of the reasons i provided still work with acceptable riders... it's just simpler to not add any riders, and I'm guessing many European politicians might be annoyed if the Commission (or the Council/Parliament through amendments) tried something like that.
    – DPenner1
    Jan 5, 2021 at 7:07
  • The EU Parliament can't modify any legislation (or more accurately, they can make suggestions - but any such suggestions can simply be ignored). This was one of the whining points about the lack of Democracy in the EU with relation to Brexit. Thus there is no possibility of a 'rider' coming from that institution.
    – ouflak
    Jan 5, 2021 at 9:40
  • @ouflak I don't believe that's an accurate portrayal. These "suggestions" are called Amendments by Article 294(7)(c), also see Hulk's comment where the Handbook is linked & search for amendment. Parliament is absolutely allowed amendments. Yes, they can be "ignored" but it's not too different from other bicameral democratic systems where one house might disagree with another house's amendments. But, Parliament still can't be completely ignored because for proposals to become law requires a majority of Parliament to vote for it.
    – DPenner1
    Jan 5, 2021 at 17:57

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