Legal acts of the European Union
A ‘directive’ is legislative act that sets out a goal that all EU countries must achieve. However, it is up to the individual countries to decide how.
A ‘regulation’ is a generally binding legislative act that is directly applicable in its entirety across the EU.
Delegated and implementing acts
These acts are not adopted by the European Parliament and the Council through the ordinary or special legislative procedure, but rather they are proposed and adopted by the Commission by means of regulations. Constituting a sub-category are regulatory and implementing technical regulations, which are proposed by the European Banking Authority (EBA) and adopted by the European Commission by means of regulations.
A ‘decision’ is a legal act binding on those to whom it is addressed (e.g. an EU country or an individual company).
A ‘recommendation’ is not legally binding. A recommendation allows the EU institutions to make their views known and to suggest a line of action without imposing any legal obligation on those to whom it is addressed.
An ‘opinion’ is not legally binding. It allows the EU institutions to make a statement in a non-binding fashion, in other words without imposing any legal obligation on those to whom it is addressed. It can be issued by the main institutions (Commission, Council, Parliament), and also by the Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee, which give opinions on draft laws from their specific regional or economic and social viewpoint.