EUR-Lex defines a white paper as a document that contains proposals for EU action in a specific area. In some cases, they follow on from a green paper published to launch a consultation process at EU level. The purpose of a white paper is to launch a debate on a critical subject with the public, stakeholders, the European Parliament and the Council in order to arrive at a political consensus.
For example, in March 2017, the European Commission published its White paper on the future of Europe (PDF), which was its contribution to the Rome Summit marking the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome on 25 March 2017. This document, subtitled ‘Reflections and scenarios for the EU27 by 2025’, focuses on the implications of Europe’s ageing population and presents five scenarios for how the Union could evolve by 2025. The White Paper served to steer the debate among the 27 Heads of State or Government at the Rome Summit and will also be used by the Commission as the starting point for a wider public debate on the future of the Union. Another important document on the subject is the Commission’s 2012 white paper, An agenda for adequate, safe and sustainable pensions (PDF).