Are EU treaties directly applicable in the UK?


The EU operates a single market between the member states, allowing the free movement of goods and services, people and capital, and in doing so boosts trade within the member states.

The European Union also promotes social and economic development and produces laws on areas such as agriculture, trade and competition, and international security and overseas development.

The main constitutional powers of the European Union are contained within a series of treaties; the most recent of which was agreed in Lisbon in 2007 and came into force in 2009.

The treaties are considered primary legislation, as they set out the way the EU works, the institutions it has and provides them with the power to act in an agreed way. EU treaties can only become law with the approval of all the signatories.

Direct effect of the laws

Laws made by EU institutions can have a direct effect on member states and their citizens. In a series of judgements, the European Courts have rules that EU law can be directly applicable in a member state, providing the law is sufficiently clear and precise, unconditional, and confers a right to the citizen on which they may base their claim.

This means that certain EU law is immediately effective in member states, regardless of whether they have implemented that law themselves or not.

As primary legislation, EU treaties are considered directly applicable in the member states including the UK. They can be used by an individual or business in an action both against the UK government themselves (known as vertical direct effect) or against another individual or business (known as horizontal direct effect).

If you have an issue which you think may be covered by EU law, take legal advice from a specialist solicitor. A solicitor specialising in EU law can advise you on the merits of any possible claim.

Contact Law works with all types of solicitors throughout the UK, including specialists in EU law. Call us on 0800 1777 162 or fill in the web-form opposite to talk to one of our advisors.

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