Europe and the law
Europe and the law

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Europe and the law

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 its establishment, the EU has achieved many things. It has delivered peace between its members and prosperity for its citizens. More recent achievements include the single European currency (although not adopted by all members) and the removal of free trade restrictions between member states. The EU has become a major global trading power.

Figure 2
Action Press/Rex Features ©
© Rex Features
Figure 2 EU leaders

The success of the EU lies in its unique way of working. The member states are independent sovereign states but agree to the supremacy of law created by EU institutions and delegate some of their decision-making authority to the EU. This enables the member states to function as an entity and gain economic, political and social influence. The EU works because institutions have been created with specific authority to make decisions and create law in defined areas. They have agreed responsibilities and powers. The creation of a court to determine disputes finalises the structure. It seems that whether it is the ECHR or EU treaties that are being considered, a court with powers of sanction is necessary to ensure that member states abide by the aims and visions of these sources of law.

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