• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

What are the distinctions between Regulations, Directives and Decisions in the Law of the European Union?

Free essay example:

2(a)        What are the distinctions between Regulations, Directives and Decisions in the Law of the European Union?

Regulations, Directives and Decisions are all forms of secondary legislation created by the European Union, whereas primary legislation consists of the treaties upon which they are based, the most important being the Treaty of Rome made in 1957 which created the European Economic Community and Euratom.

Secondary EU legislation is created by the Council of Ministers of the European Union, based on proposals by the European Commission.  The Council of Ministers is the legislative body of the European Union.

The first form of EU secondary legislation is a regulation. This is a general measure that is binding in all its parts and is also directly applicable.  In other words, it creates law which takes immediate effect in all the Member States in the same way that an Act of Parliament will take effect in the UK, without any further legislation needing to be created.  Examples of regulations include those determining rights of workers, the new ‘.eu’ domain name and the new ‘Community Design Right’ which confers rights to intellectual property.

A Directive, by contrast, is binding upon Member States as to the result to be achieved but it leaves it up to the Member State to decide the form and method to be adopted to realise the Community objectives within that country.  Directives are similar to Regulations, however, in that they apply to all the member states.  They set out minimal standards for all member states of the European Union to achieve.

In the United Kingdom, a directive will be brought about by an Act of Parliament or, more commonly, a statutory instrument.  Sometimes all that is required is for Parliament to make simple changes to existing laws.  For example, the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 realised most of the European Equal Treatment Directive’s requirements and, in many ways, went beyond the requirements of the Directive.  An example of directives that required much more legislative change is the Common Agricultural Policy.

Sometimes, a Directive will be said to have ‘Direct Effect’.  This means that they are so specific as to create legal rights without having to be translated into national law.  They take Direct Effect in much the same way as a Regulation.  Direct Effect can be either horizontal, where it can be enforced by one individual against another in the national court system, or Direct Effect can be vertical, where it can only be enforced against the State or a State Department in the member countries.  

It is important to note that if there has been a delay in reaching the directive’s requirements within a country, or if it has been realised incompletely, then citizens can refer to the directive in question before the national courts.

Decisions, as opposed to regulations and directives, apply to specific Member States and organisations. This is what distinguishes Decisions from Regulations and Directives.  Nevertheless, as is the case for Regulations and Directives, a Decision is binding in all of its entirety. That is to say, a Decision is entirely binding upon those to whom it is addressed.  

Examples of Decisions include the Commission ruling on proposed mergers and contemporary agricultural matters such as setting standard prices for vegetables.

Other forms of secondary EU legislation include Recommendations and Opinions.  However, these are not binding upon member states in any way.

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level European Union section.

(?)
Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Related AS and A Level Politics Skills and Knowledge Essays

See our best essays

Related AS and A Level European Union essays

  1. A clear explanation of key underpinning economic theories relevant to the EU.

    Boots by operating in the UK sells to approxmetaley 24 million consumers a year, and the profits are in the billions. There are many opportunities and threats of Boots operating in the single market, these can have a major affect on the way a business performs.

  2. "European Community Law derives from a range of sources" - Describe, giving examples, the ...

    the result to be achieved, upon each Member State to which it is addressed, but shall leave to the national authorities the choice of form and methods". Although the member states are able to choose their own methods of meeting the directive objectives, if they are not met within the

  1. The Institution of the European Union and Theories.

    expanded are: *Public health *consumer protection This treaty aimed to make the EU democratic in preparation for its eastwards enlargement. The European Parliament was given power to legislate in co-decision with the council of Ministers on a range of new issues such as: *Employment *Social exclusion *Customs and data protection amongst other issues.

  2. Economic and political integration between the member states of the European Union means that ...

    The need for environmental protection is now taken into account across the whole range of EU policies. The European Union's relations with the rest of the world have also become important. The EU negotiates major trade and aid agreements with other countries and is developing a Common Foreign and Security Policy.

  1. Public Law Coursework

    of the 1972 Act and therefore the issue of implied repeal was a moot one. The judgement in this case goes further than just denying the defence of implied repeal, it goes on to discuss the relationship between the UK and the European Community and its basis.

  2. The European Community Merger Regulation

    of the agreement, the announcement of a public bid, or the acquisition of a controlling interest. A merger must not be implemented prior to notification or until it has been declared compatible with the common market. If companies fail to notify, or to suspend implementation, they risk fines and the invalidity of their transactions.

  1. What are the changes contemplated under the ECMR. Compare and contrast them with the ...

    been the fact that the application of these two different tests have produced broadly convergent results thus far. In the Commissoner, Mario Monti's words, this indicates that there is no need to change the test and that "if it aint broke, don't fix it".

  2. European Union Lobbying.

    This is even more true of certain MEPs - known as rapporteurs - who are appointed by the committees to co-ordinate the Parliament's response to Commission proposals. When a rapporteur is appointed, each of the political groupings in the Parliament will themselves appoint shadow rapporteurs to monitor the work which is being undertaken.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work