EU law

Personal interpretation Marc Sel, last updated 2003-02-04.

EU law - definitions

The European Communities' core objective of achieving European unification is based exclusively on the rule of law. Community law is an independent legal system which takes precedence over national legal provisions. A number of key players are involved in the process of implementing, monitoring and further developing this legal system for which a variety of procedures apply. In general, EU law is composed of three different - but interdependent - types of legislation:


Primary legislation includes in particular the Treaties and other agreements having similar status. Primary legislation is agreed by direct negotiation between Member State governments. These agreements are laid down in the form of Treaties which are then subject to ratification by the national parliaments. The same procedure applies for any subsequent amendments to the treatiest. The Treaties establishing the European Communities have been revised several times through: The Treaties also define the role and responsibilities of EU institutions and bodies involved in decision-making processes and the legislative, executive and juridical procedures which characterise Community law and its implementation.


Secondary legislation is based on the Treaties and implies a variety of procedures defined in different articles thereof. In the framework of the Treaties establishing the European Communities, Community law may take the following forms:


Case-law includes judgments of the European Court of Justice and of the European Court of First Instance, for example, in response to referrals from the Commission, national courts of the Member States or individuals. These types of legislation comprise the acquis communautaire.