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Standards cannot override the requirements of legislation; in all cases the legislative requirements set by public authorities take precedence over voluntary standards. What is regulation? Regulation is the way in which public authorities seek to guide or control behaviours. Public authorities have a number of ways to meet their policy objectives and different types of regulatory instruments are available to them. These include legislation and other tools that can support the implementation of policy, such as market-based instruments that directly involve the participation of stakeholders (self- and co-regulatory approaches). In this guide, the term ‘regulation’ means both legislation and other policy actions. It is not restricted to the specific European Union legislative act of the same name. Legislation states what individuals and businesses must do, or must not do, and is usually backed by enforcement and the possibility of sanctions. In the European Union, legislation is proposed by the European Commission and enacted by the co-legislators of the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament (for the ordinary legislative procedure). Compliance with legislation is mandatory; it is accompanied by enforcement mechanisms and possible sanctions where requirements have been breached. Depending on the type of European legislation, national legislative action by the Member States may be required. For example, European directives shall be implemented by the Member States, most commonly by national legislation; European regulations are directly applicable without further implementing legislation.
||European Guide on Standards and Regulation - Better regulation through the use of voluntary standards - Guidance for policy makers