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Sources of European Union law

Sources of European Union law

 

SUMMARY OF:

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 follow 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 (see hierarchy of norms).

Primary law

Secondary law

Secondary law comprises unilateral acts, which can be divided into two categories:

International agreements with non-EU countries or with international organisations are also an integral part of EU law. They are separate from primary law and secondary legislation and form a sui generis category. According to some judgments of the CJEU, they can have direct effect and their legal force is superior to secondary legislation, which must therefore comply with them.

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 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 13.03.2020

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