Introduction to European Union law
Introduction to European Union law

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Introduction to European Union law

8 How EU law is made and enforced

To put it simple, EU law is divided into primary and secondary sources. The primary sources are the Treaties and the acquis communautaire (general principles of law common to member states as interpreted by the CJEU) and EU legislation. Obviously, the member states negotiate and execute changes to the Treaties.

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Figure 10 EU law

Activity 10 The legislative processes

Timing: You should allow yourself 25 minutes to do this activity.

There are two types of legislative process – the ordinary and special legislative processes. As its name suggests, the ordinary legislative process is most frequently used for secondary legislation.

Read ‘How EU Decisions are made [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] ’ and then answer the following questions.

  1. Which institution appears to have the most significant legislative power?
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Comment

The Council has the most significant legislative power.

  1. Which institution has the firmest democratic base?
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Comment

It is the European Parliament. Democratically problematic is the dual role of the Commission. The Treaty puts the Commission on a par with the common constitutional position of both the executive and civil service in parliamentary democracies.

  1. How significant is it that the Commission is involved in both the initiation and enforcement of legislation?
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Comment

The power of initiative set the direction of legislation and its effectiveness is determined by enforcement. The Commission for some legislation has the power to fine non-compliant person and states.

  1. How effective is the Parliament’s supervisory role?
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Comment

It can supervise the appointment and dismissal of Commission and is nearly always able to propose amendments to proposed legislation.

  1. Do member states have a power of veto in the Council of the European Union?
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Comment

Only in limited circumstances. Most voting is ruled by a mechanism that is intended to give each member state a proportion of votes relative to its population. It is called qualified majority voting.

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