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5.3.1 Regulations

A regulation is a Community act, which ‘shall have general application. It shall be binding in its entirety and directly applicable in all Member States.’ Regulations are directly applicable, which means that once they have become EU law they apply immediately in all EU member states. They do not need implementation by the member states.

Regulations come into force 20 days after their publication in the European Union's official journal, unless otherwise specified.


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5.3 EU secondary legislation

Law made by the EU institutions in exercising the powers conferred on them by the treaties is referred to as secondary legislation. This legislation includes:

  • regulations

  • directives

  • decisions

  • recommendations

  • opinions.

Another EU institution often required to contribute to the EU law-making process is the European Court of Justice. This has two main functions:


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5.2 EU primary legislation

In Part B we learned that the different stages in the development of the EU have been marked by the adoption of intergovernmental documents called ‘treaties’. These are the first source of EU law and contain the founding legal acts. They contain the basic provisions and the majority of EU economic law. The treaties also create the decision- and legal rule-making powers of the EU institutions.

5.1 EU law

The main sources of EU law are:

  • EU primary legislation, represented by the treaties

  • EU secondary legislation, in the form of regulations, directives, decisions, recommendations and opinions

  • rulings on cases brought before the European Court of Justice.

EU law is created by the legislative powers with which the EU member states have invested the EU institutions. The law created by EU institutions is al
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4.7 Summary of Part C

Here you have learned about the rule-making mechanisms which characterise the EU and its main constitutive institutions: the European Council, the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, the European Parliament and the European Court of Justice. These institutions complement each other in their legislative functions in order to deliver a body of Community law that applies uniformly and consistently in all the member states.

4.6 The European Court of Justice

The role of the European Court of Justice is to ensure that EC legislation is interpreted and applied consistently in each EU member state. It has the power to settle disputes and impose sanctions. It may also be asked to clarify the meaning of an EU law. Cases may be brought by EU member states, EU institutions, businesses or individuals. The membership of the court has expanded with the growth of the EU itself. The ECJ is composed of one judge for each EU member state. There is no system of
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4.5 The European Parliament

The European Parliament fulfils three main functions:

  • it shares the power to legislate

  • it exercises democratic supervision over all EC institutions

  • it shares authority over the EC budget.

The legislative and supervisory roles are based on the European Parliament's democratic legitimacy. Its members are directly elected every five years by the citizens of the EU member states.

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4.4 The Council of the European Union

The Council represents the interests of the individual member states and is seen as the legislative arm of the EU. It is composed of active representatives of the governments of the member states. Usually, these representatives are the departmental or junior ministers responsible for the matters under consideration at a specific Council meeting. This means that the Council itself, unlike the Commission, has no stable membership. Its membership varies depending upon the issues tabled for discu
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4.3 The European Commission

The European Commission is the political body that represents the EU as a whole. It is politically independent and can propose legislation, policies and programmes of action. It is also responsible for implementing the decisions of the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union.

The European Commission is made up of a team of Commissioners (appointed by EU member states) and their support staff. Commissioners are chosen ‘on the grounds of their general competence
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4.2 The European Council

The European Council brings together heads of state and government in order to decide on issues of common interest and overall EU policy and to review progress. In principle the European Council must meet at least twice a year but usually meets four times a year. The meetings are known as Summits. The European Council is the highest level policy-making body of the EU:

The European Council shall provide the Union with t
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4.1 Overview

The institutions of the EU work towards objectives related to the three pillars and the creation of a body of Community law that applies

  • uniformly

  • in all member states.

The institutions having legal rule-making powers include the European Council, the Council of the European Union, the European Parliament and the European Commission. Finally, there is the European Court of Justice (ECJ), which has the power to settle
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3.6 Summary of Part B

In Part B you have learned that the EU arose from the need for post-war regeneration in the economic and social spheres.

The EU is a comparatively recent political and legal institution. It has developed and grown over the past six decades. This development and growth is marked by a series of intergovernmental treaties which bind the member states together in a close political and legal entity.

The relationship between the EC and the EU

The words ‘European Economic Community’ (EEC), ‘European Community’ (EC) and ‘European Union’ (EU) have already been used in this unit, and many texts and journal and newspaper articles use them interchangeably. It is important that you are clear on their relationship and what they mean. This unit will always refer to the current position as the EU, but what is the relationship between the EC, the EEC and the EU?

As mentioned earlier, the Maastricht Treaty (19
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3.4 How does the EU operate?

The EU operates through institutions created in the treaties. These institutions can have decision-making powers, law-making powers or may act as part of a checking and consultation procedure.

The institutions include:

  1. The European Parliament (represents the people of the EU).

  2. The Council of the European Union (represents the member states of the EU).

  3. The European Commission (represents the interests of the EU).
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Why create the EU?

All the member states of the EU have declared a belief in certain fundamental values and aims. Those fundamental values include the securing of lasting peace, unity, equality, freedom, security, solidarity, democracy and the rule of law (Article 6 [1] TEU). Remember that the creation and growth of the EU, like the European Convention on Human Rights, was achieved through the efforts of individuals and states that experienced the horrors and economic aftermath of the Second World War. Since it
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3.2 The evolution of the EU

The EU has grown out of a series of intergovernmental political initiatives which have been expressed in a number of treaties. These treaties form the building blocks that give authority and power to the institutions and law-making bodies of the EU. The process is evolutionary, as treaties are reviewed and amended to reflect both the changing membership and the vision of the EU.

The EU is founded on several treaties:

  1. The treaty that established
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3.1 Background

Like the Council of Europe, the European Union (EU) also arose as the result of the desire to heal political and social scars left by the Second World War. The complete collapse of Europe had led to the creation of ideas, not just for the prevention of such horrors occurring again but also for a new European order. The initial focus for the evolution of what we now call the EU was economic growth.

There are many European organisations and it is important to be able to identify correctly
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2.6 Summary of Part A

The European Convention on Human Rights emerged after the Second World War. Its aim was the protection of certain individual rights. Some of these rights are absolute and there can be no exceptions (derogations), while others are qualified rights. If a right is qualified, a member state may impose legal and proportionate restrictions. The European Court of Human Rights has ultimate responsibility for the interpretation and application of the European Convention on Human Rights.


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2.5 The ECHR and UK law

OpenLearn unit W100_5 Human rights and the law will explore the Human Rights Act 1998 and its effect and relationship with the ECHR. It is important to remember that both states and individuals can bring a case to the European Court of Human Rights (although some countries have tried to bring restrictions on an individual's right to do so). An individual must have first exhausted all remedies in their own domestic legal system. Both the court and the application procedure differs from that i
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2.4 The European Court of Human Rights

Common law and the court hierarchy, statutory interpretation and judicial precedent are all peculiar to the domestic English law. The European Court of Human Rights operates in a different way. The rights in the European Convention on Human Rights are stated in general terms and are interpreted according to international legal principles. For example, Article 31(1) of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties states:

<
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