Shahan Mohammad                                                                      Reg No: 03147426


‘The European Union (EU) is a family of democratic European countries created on the basis of committing to working together for peace and prosperity’.  The present EU we have come to know and understand was established out of The European Economic Community (EEC) which was founded in 1957 following the signing of the Treaty of Rome by the six original Member States.  In 1967 the EEC joined together with the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) which was also established in 1957 and the European Coal and Steel Community which was established in 1951 to form the European Communities, or EC.  The creation of these treaties represented the culmination of a movement towards international cooperation by member states which was an unprecedented achievement in the twentieth century.

The EC later transpired into the European Union (EU) by the establishment and ratification of the Treaty on European Union at Maastricht on 7 February 1992.  The treaty came in to existence on the 1st of November 1993 to create the European Union out of the European Community.  The treaty also paved the way for European Economic Community to be renamed the European Community and the EC’s Council of Ministers was renamed the Council of Ministers of the European Union.

In the aftermath of the establishment of the EU there has been some deep transformation in the way in which the European Union functions. A good example is the emergence of the democratically elected European Parliament as a key actor in European policy-making.

‘The EU has moved beyond the realm of economic regulation into areas such as environmental and consumer protection, and health and safety issues. Although this expansion process was initially founded on a rather tenuous legal base, it has been ratified by successive Treaty changes: the Single European Act, and the Maastricht and Amsterdam Treaties consolidated European intervention in the area of social or risk regulation’.

The Treaty of European Union (TEU), signed in Maastricht, led towards the development of a single currency and further institutional reforms. The TEU created a European Union with three pillars: European Community, Common Foreign and Security Policy and Home Affairs Policy. It also has provisions on three matters of constitutional importance: human rights, subsidiarity and citizenship.

        The Maastricht Treaty saw the freeing up of the market as an extension of integration. The social dimension of the project was the agreement on monetary union. All of the MS, with the exception of the UK, agreed to implement the 1989 European Social Charter and, UK and Denmark also opted-out from the third stage of EMU.

This flexible, open-ended and paradoxical nature of EU law allows Member States (MS) to choose to adhere to EU legislation yet still be able to define their own presence within the EU.  These attributes could be said to encompass the essence of what defines the idea behind the EU itself.  The paradoxical nature of the EU is emphasised by its conflicting goals: the need for ‘integration yet pluralism, more and, at the same time, less centralisation, external homogeneity and internal heterogeneity, supremacy of EU law and principle of subsidiarity, economic development and social equality’.      

There are many EU institutions involved in the European law making process which includes executive, legislative and judicial institutions. ‘In the EC's early years, the Commission proposed, the Parliament advised, the Council decided and the Court interpreted Community legislation, but the Parliament and the Court have gradually become more powerful’.

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This unique structure of the EU, with its ability to enact and implement laws binding throughout EU territory (the 25 Member States), differentiates the European Union from any other international organization. Legislation takes the form primarily of regulations and directives. ‘Regulations have general application: they are binding in their entirety and directly applicable in all Member States. Directives, on the other hand, are binding only on the Member States to which they are addressed. The form and method for implementing them is left to the Member States, who have a given time in which to do so’.  

EU regulations ...

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