Division of competences within the European Union



The EU has only the competences conferred on it by the Treaties (principle of conferral). Under this principle, the EU may only act within the limits of the competences conferred upon it by the EU countries in the Treaties to attain the objectives provided therein. Competences not conferred upon the EU in the Treaties remain with the EU countries. The Treaty of Lisbon clarifies the division of competences between the EU and EU countries. These competences are divided into 3 main categories:

3 main types of competences

Special competences

The EU can take measures to ensure that EU countries coordinate their economic, social and employment policies at EU level.

The EU’s common foreign and security policy is characterised by specific institutional features, such as the limited participation of the European Commission and the European Parliament in the decision-making procedure and the exclusion of any legislation activity. That policy is defined and implemented by the European Council (consisting of the Heads of States or Governments of the EU countries) and by the Council (consisting of a representative of each EU country at ministerial level). The President of the European Council and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign and Security Policy represent the EU in matters of common foreign and security policy.

Exercise of competence

The exercise of EU competences is subject to two fundamental principles laid down in Article 5 of the Treaty on European Union:

last update 26.01.2016