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Regulations are legal acts defined by Article 288 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). They have general application, are binding in their entirety and are directly applicable in all European Union (EU) Member States. A regulation is part of the EU’s secondary law, the body of law that derives from the principles and objectives set out in the EU treaties (primary law).

A regulation is addressed to abstract categories of persons, not to identified persons. This is what distinguishes it from a decision, defined in Article 288 of the TFEU. It is binding in its entirety.

A regulation must be complied with fully by those to whom it applies. It is a legal act binding upon:

  • the EU institutions,
  • Member States,
  • the individuals to whom it applies.

A regulation is directly applicable in all Member States. This means that it:

  • applies immediately as the norm in all Member States, without needing to be transposed into national law;
  • creates rights and obligations for individuals, and they can therefore invoke it directly before national courts;
  • can be used as a reference by individuals in their relationship with other individuals, Member States or EU authorities.

A regulation is applicable in all Member States from the date of its entry into force (a date that it sets or, failing that, 20 days after its publication in the EU’s Official Journal). Its legal effects are simultaneously, automatically and uniformly binding in all the national legislations.

Under Article 290 TFEU, the European Commission may adopt delegated regulations to specify or complement certain details or aspects of a regulation or an EU directive.

Under Article 291 TFEU, the European Parliament and the Council may authorise the Commission to adopt regulations to ensure that legislation is implemented in the same way throughout the EU.