Introduction to European Union law
Introduction to European Union law

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Introduction to European Union law

4 Aims of the EU today

In the video you watched in Activity 1, Paul Craig emphasised the extent to which EU law has influenced national law. The breadth of the aims of the EU and increasing areas of competence drives the scope of this influence. The origin of those aims resides, partly, in the European Economic Community’s founding Treaty: Treaty establishing the European Economic Community (EEC Treaty). They are in the preamble to that Treaty set out below.

Box 3 Preamble to Treaty of Rome


His Majesty The King of the Belgians, the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, the President of the French Republic, the President of the Italian Republic, Her Royal Highness The Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, Her Majesty The Queen of the Netherlands,

Determined to lay the foundations of an ever-closer union among the peoples of Europe,

Resolved to ensure the economic and social progress of their countries by common action to eliminate the barriers which divide Europe,

Affirming as the essential objective of their efforts the constant improvement of the living and working conditions of their peoples,

Recognising that the removal of existing obstacles calls for concerted action in order to guarantee steady expansion, balanced trade and fair competition,

Anxious to strengthen the unity of their economies and to ensure their harmonious development by reducing the differences existing between the various regions and the backwardness of the less favoured regions,

Desiring to contribute, by means of a common commercial policy, to the progressive abolition of restrictions on international trade,

Intending to confirm the solidarity which binds Europe and the overseas countries and desiring to ensure the development of their prosperity, in accordance with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations,

Resolved by thus pooling their resources to preserve and strengthen peace and liberty, and calling upon the other peoples of Europe who share their ideal to join in their efforts,

Have decided to create a European Economic Community

The preamble refers to the need for economic cooperation, to work towards economic expansion, fair competition and international trade with a common commercial policy. It also identifies social objectives as improved living and working conditions and the need to ensure peace, liberty and create solidarity.

Subsequent Treaties gave special prominence to the task of creating a common market and an economic and monetary union. They provided a constitutional basis for the establishment of an internal market through the liberalisation of four basic factors of production: the free movement of goods, workers, capital, services and establishments.

The current Treaties, the TEU and TFEU, retain the original economic aims but are now bolstered by democratic and human rights elements which underpin them. They also give the original aims an unambiguous constitutional base by taking parts out of the preamble of the Treaty of Rome and placing them in Articles found in the body of the Treaties. Significantly, the Treaties alter the prominence of some objectives and decrease others. For example, Article 3 TEU offers its citizens areas of freedom, security and justice without internal frontiers throughout the internal market over and above economic aims.

You will now consider what it is that the EU actually does and, therefore, what EU law covers.

Activity 5 Aims of the EU

Timing: You should allow yourself 15 minutes to do this activity.

The aims of the EU are set out in the Treaty on European Union (TEU).

Access the TEU on the EUR-Lex website [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] and read Articles 1, 2, 3 and 4. Then, on the same website, find and read the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (CFR).

Answer the questions in the interactive below.

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Now list the rights in the CFR in Titles I to IV.

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For the CFR the rights you should have listed are:

  • Right to liberty and security
  • Respect for private and family life
  • Protection of personal data
  • Freedom of thought, conscience and religion
  • Freedom of expression and information
  • Freedom of assembly and of association
  • Freedom of the arts and sciences
  • Right to education
  • Freedom to choose an occupation and right to engage in work
  • Freedom to conduct a business
  • Right to property
  • Right to asylum
  • Protection in the event of removal, expulsion or extradition
  • Equality before the law
  • Non-discrimination
  • Cultural, religious and linguistic diversity
  • Equality between women and men
  • The rights of the elderly
  • The rights of the child
  • Integration of persons with disabilities
  • Workers’ right to information and consultation within the undertaking
  • Right of collective bargaining and action
  • Right of access to placement services
  • Protection in the event of unjustified dismissal
  • Fair and just working conditions
  • Prohibition of child labour and protection of young people at work
  • Family and professional life
  • Social security and social assistance
  • Health care
  • Access to services of general economic interest
  • Environmental protection
  • Consumer protection.

Under Article 1 TEU the EU’s aim is to promote peace, its values and the well-being of its peoples.


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