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Summaries of EU Legislation

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Sources of European Union law

Summaries of EU legislation: direct access to the main summaries page.
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  • Date of last review: 10/07/2017
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  • Author: Publications Office
  • Form: Summaries of EU legislation
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Sources of European Union law

 

SUMMARY OF:

Consolidated version of the Lisbon Treaty

Article 207 of the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union

Article 216 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union

Article 288 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union

WHAT IS THE AIM OF ARTICLES 207, 216 AND 288 OF THE TREATY ON THE FUNCTIONING OF THE EU (TFEU)?

  • Article 207 TFEU sets out the legal basis for the EU’s trade policy and lays down the procedures to be followed when taking decisions on different aspects of trade.
  • Article 216 TFEU states the conditions under which the EU may conclude agreements with non-EU countries and international organisations.
  • Article 288 TFEU defines the different types of legal acts that the EU may adopt.

KEY POINTS

There are three sources of EU law: primary law, secondary law and supplementary law.

Primary law

  • The main sources of primary law are the treaties establishing the EU: the Treaty on the EU and the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU. These treaties set out the distribution of competences between the EU and the EU countries and describe the powers of the European institutions. They therefore determine the legal framework within which the EU institutions have to work to implement policies.
  • Primary law also includes:
    • the amending EU Treaties;
    • the protocols annexed to the founding treaties and to the amending treaties;
    • the treaties on the accession of new countries to the EU.

Secondary law

  • Secondary sources are legal instruments based on the treaties.
  • Secondary law comprises unilateral acts and agreements.
    • Unilateral acts can be divided into two categories:
    • Conventions and agreements include:
      • international agreements, signed by the EU and a country or outside organisation;
      • agreements between EU countries; and
      • interinstitutional agreements, i.e. agreements between the EU institutions.

Supplementary sources of law

Supplementary sources are elements of law not specifically mentioned in the treaties. This category includes:

  • case-law of the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU);
  • international law — often a source of inspiration for the CJEU when developing its case-law. The CJEU cites written law, custom and usage;
  • general principles of law — unwritten sources of law developed by the case-law of the CJEU. They have allowed the CJEU to implement rules in various areas that are not mentioned in the treaties.

MAIN DOCUMENTS

Consolidated versions of the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union — Consolidated version of the Treaty on European Union — Consolidated version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union — Protocols — Annexes to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union — Declarations annexed to the Final Act of the Intergovernmental Conference which adopted the Treaty of Lisbon, signed on 13 December 2007 — Tables of equivalences (OJ C 202, 7.6.2016, pp. 1–388)

Consolidated version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union — Part Five — The Union’s external action — Title II — Common commercial policy — Article 207 (ex Article 133 TEC) (OJ C 202, 7.6.2016, pp. 140–141)

Consolidated version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union — Part Five — The Union’s external action — Title V -— International agreements — Article 216 (OJ C 202, 7.6.2016, p. 144)

Consolidated version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union — Part Six — Institutional and financial provisions — Title I — Institutional provisions — Chapter 2 — Legal acts of the Union, adoption procedures and other provisions — Section 1 — The legal acts of the Union — Article 288 (ex Article 249 TEC) (OJ C 202, 7.6.2016, p. 171–172)

last update 13.12.2017

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