European Union law is a body of treaties and legislation, such as Regulations and Directives, which have direct effect or indirect effect on the laws of European Union member states. The three sources of European Union law are primary law, secondary law and supplementary law.
European Union law is applied by the courts of member states and where the laws of member states provide for lesser rights European Union law can be enforced by the courts of member states. In case of European Union law which should have been transposed into the laws of member states, such as Directives, the European Commission can take proceedings against the member state under the EC Treaty. The Court of Justice of the European Union is the highest court able to interpret European Union law. Supplementary sources of European Union law include case law by the Court of Justice, international law and general principles of European Union law.
Like the EU itself, EU law can be divided into three pillars. The first of these, the European Community pillar, comprises the majority of law produced by the EU and is where the European Court of Justice has the most power. The EU can also enact legislation under the second and third pillars – relating to foreign policy and criminal law respectively – although the powers of the Court of Justice are much reduced and direct effect does not apply.
Similar to federal states, the legal system is used to ensure political results from the member states, because of the decentralized nature of the political system. Decisions are taken at the EU level but, implementation is overwhelmingly done by member states. By contrast, decision making and implementation inside member states is usually done by the same actors.
Michalaki, Pitsillidou & Co L.L.C’s lawyers take a dynamic and comprehensive approach to all European Union Law issues, both national and domestic. We provide a complete service for our clients’ requirements for legal advice in all areas of EU law in general.