What are the differences between EU decisions, directives and regulations?

 

The UK is a member of the European Union, which as of 2014 contains 27 member states and aims to create common laws and policies which promote social and economic development across those member states.

The EU produces laws in many areas, including trade and competition, agriculture, social justice, and human rights. The European Union member states also produce policies on security and overseas development and aid.

Types of EU legislation

Visit our EU law pages for more background and detail on how EU laws affect us.

Laws are created in the EU in a number of ways depending on the subject matter and the desired effect. The primary legislation of the EU is contained within its treaties which are agreed between member states and set out the constitutional basis upon which the Union is run.

Secondary legislation is made by the European Commission, Council of Ministers and the Parliament. Its purpose is to achieve the objectives set out within the treaties and to ensure that member states are all operating in a coordinated way.

Secondary legislation takes three forms, decisions, directives and regulations.

Decisions

Decisions are laws made on specific issues and do not usually bind all member states. They usually affect specific institutions or individuals. Unlike directives, they are fully binding and do not require any national legislation to be enforced.

Although they can be made on almost any subject, decisions are most commonly used to give effect so specific policies, for example, coordinating the price of vegetables or approving the merger of companies.

Directives

Directives are require member states to implement EU laws themselves. They are usually relatively broadly drawn, leaving the member state free to apply their own interpretation. This is designed to ensure that the EU does not intrude too much on national sovereignty and that different legal systems are respected.

In a number of cases however, the EU has confirmed that directives can have a direct effect, meaning that they can be enforced even when there is no national legislation.

This will usually be the case where the member state in question either does not comply, or where the laws they make do not successfully achieve the original outcome.

This direct effect is however only vertical, meaning it can only be used in actions against the state and not against other individuals.

Regulations

Regulations are the most powerful form of EU law. They operate much like national statutes, being binding on all member states as soon as they are approved, and having direct effect both vertically and horizontally. This means that an individual can rely on that law immediately within their own country, both in actions against the state and other individuals.

This is of concern to some Eurosceptics who believe regulations are part of a process of eroding national sovereignty in favour of a European federal state.

As it is binding within the UK, EU legislation can have important consequences for UK businesses and individuals. If you think you may be affected by EU legislation, take legal advice from a specialist solicitor.

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.

Call
0800 1777 162
or fill in the form
Our trained advisor contacts you
Your chosen specialist solicitor calls you
Quick enquiry form
Area of law:
Name:
Town/City:
Email:
Phone:
What our clients say about us
"This was the first time I've been to court, which was a nerve-racking experience for me. However, I felt very prepared, I understood my case and representation - this was down to you."
Gavin, criminal motoring, Oct 15
"Your service, and the prompt call back from your recommended firm was very good. I would not hesitate to call again or recommend your service."
Ian, employment law, Truro, July 15
"The firm were excellent, could not have been better! They are exactly what I need right now."
Linda, criminal defence, Thames Ditton, Jul 15
"Your contact and service was immediate and utmost professional, 10/10."
TF, conveyancing, Dudley, Jun 15
"I appreciate the service that you provide. I found you to be courteous, efficient and reassuring at a time when my confidence in justice is completely negative."
Patrick, litigation, Pontypridd, Jun 15
"I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the speed of which you came back to me in. If anyone else can benefit from your help like I have done, it would make my day."
Gail M, family law, Potters Bar, Jun 15
"Your assistance was extremely helpful. Particularly to someone who in 40 years of business has never experienced this sort of issue."
TD, commercial litigation, Galashiels, Apr 15
"It is difficult to express the value Contact Law has to someone like me who had very little understanding of the law and how to proceed forward with my case. Thank you for the service you provided."
AE, defamation law, Worthing, Apr 15
"Thank you for the efficient service I received. I was contacted by your solicitor on the same day as my request. Your quick response to my situation made me feel secure."
AN, employment law, London, Apr 15
"Your service was excellent, very fast and informative. I never got the impression of being pressurised at all. The solicitor you recommended was also excellent – very knowledgeable and supportive."
JHD, Motoring law, Liverpool, Apr 15
Contact Law supports the endeavours of STAE and commends all the work they are undertaking to assist in the plight of the Asian Elephant

 

We use cookies on the Contact Law site to help us improve it.

If you would like to allow our cookies, please click 'Continue' or carry on browsing. For more information on cookies and how to change your settings, click 'More info'.