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Green paper

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth countries, Hong Kong, the United States and the European Union,[1] a green paper is a tentative government report and consultation document of policy proposals for debate and discussion. A green paper represents the best that the government can propose on the given issue, but, remaining uncommitted, it is able without loss of face to leave its final decision open until it has been able to consider the public reaction to it.[2] Green papers may result in the production of a white paper. They may be seen as grey literature.


A green paper in Canada, like a white paper, is an official government document. Green papers tend to be statements not of policy already determined, but of propositions put before the whole nation for discussion. They are produced early in the policy-making process, while ministerial proposals are still being formulated. Many white papers in Canada have been, in effect, green papers, while at least one green paper—that on immigration and population in 1975—was released for public debate after the government had already drafted legislation.[3]

United Kingdom[edit]

Similarly, in the UK, green papers are official consultation documents produced by the government for discussion both inside and outside Parliament, for instance when a government department is considering introducing a new law.[4][5]

The term "green paper" has been said to originate with the publication in 1941 by Herwald Ramsbotham, UK president of the board of education, of plans for educational reform in a green binding, which became known as the "Green Book".[6]

European Union[edit]

A green paper released by the European Commission is a discussion document intended to stimulate debate and launch a process of consultation, at European level, on a particular topic. A green paper usually presents a range of ideas and is meant to invite interested individuals or organizations to contribute views and information. It may be followed by a white paper, an official set of proposals that is used as a vehicle for their development into law.


Discussion of defence policy in Australia, 2000[edit]

A major review of defence policy in Australia culminated in a white paper issued in December 2000. Prior to this, a discussion paper was released in June 2000. This discussion paper was in nature what is known as a green paper (and was sometimes referred to as such).

Copyright in the knowledge economy, 2008[edit]

The purpose of the 2008 EU green paper on copyright was to foster a debate on how knowledge for research, science and education can best be disseminated in the online environment. The green paper, which was published on 16 July 2008, aimed to set out a number of issues connected with the role of copyright in the "knowledge economy" and intended to launch a consultation on these issues (see this document). The EU asked for answers and comments to be submitted up to 30 November 2008.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Boyle, James. "Chapter 4: The Internet Threat". The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind. Archived from the original on 2010-07-27. Retrieved 2010-01-15.
  2. ^ "Green Paper". BBC News. 1 September 2008.
  3. ^ "Green Paper". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Archived from the original on 2012-10-15. Retrieved 2012-05-30.
  4. ^ "Green Papers". The UK Parliament.
  5. ^ "What is a Green Paper?". The Guardian. 2009-06-18. Retrieved 2016-06-30.
  6. ^ Middleton N and Weitzman S (1976) A Place for Everyone (p. 221), London: Victor Gollancz Ltd; cited in Derek Gillard (2018) Education in England: a history, Chapter 9

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