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EUROPEAN UNION
LAW

EUROPEAN UNION LAW CORE SERIES

Eu Law book

WHAT IS EUROPEAN UNION LAW?

EU law governs approximately 80% of the economic Law of its member-states. Therefore, it is vital that a student successfully pass this subject to become a lawyer. Even after Brexit, the UK will still count on the EU as one of its closer commercial partners. Hence, a good knowledge of EU Law remains needed for a British lawyer.

STUDYING EUROPEAN UNION LAW

Since 1973, EU law has been an intrinsic component of the legal system of the United Kingdom, and it has been taught and studied in every qualifying law degree offered in each of the UK's three jurisdictions - Scotland, England & Wales, and Northern Ireland – since the country's inception.

WHY DOES THE EU KEEP EXPANDING?

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The European Union is a sui generis organization that has unique features. It is very different from the traditional approach of international organizations. Some theories are discussed below.
INTERGOVERNMENTAL 

 

Intergovernmentalism is an alternative theory of political integration, where power in international organizations is possessed by the member-states and decisions are made by unanimity. Independent appointees of the governments or elected representatives have solely advisory or implementational functions. Intergovernmentalism is used by most international organizations today. An alternative method of decision-making in international organizations is supranationalism.

 

Intergovernmentalism is also a theory of European integration which rejects the idea of neo-functionalism. The theory, initially proposed by Stanley Hoffmann and refined by Andrew Moravcsik, suggests that governments control the level and speed of European integration. Any increase in power at the supranational level, he argues, results from a direct decision by governments.

 

He believed that integration, driven by national governments, was often based on the domestic political and economic issues of the day. The theory rejects the concept of the spillover effect that neo-functionalism proposes. He also rejects the idea that supranational organisations are on an equal level (in terms of political influence) as national governments.

SUPRANATIONAL

Supranationalism is a method of decision-making in political communities wherein power is held by independently appointed officials or by representatives elected by the legislatures or people of the member states. Member-state governments still have power, but they must share this power with others. Because decisions are taken by majority votes, it is possible for a member-state to be forced by the other member-states to implement a decision. Unlike a federal state, member states fully retain their sovereignty and participate voluntarily, being subject to the supranational government only while remaining members.

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NEO-FUNCTIONALIST

 

Neo-functionalists argue that the supranational institutions of the European Union themselves have been a driving force behind European integration, reinterpreting agreed results from Intergovernmental Conferences in order to expand the mandate of EU legislation into new and more diverse areas. The theory of neo-functionalism is felt by some to be important as it may explain much of the thinking behind the early proponents of the European Union, such as Jean Monnet, who saw increased European integration as the most important precursor to a peaceful Europe.

 

Neo-functionalism assumes a decline in the importance of nationalism and the nation-state; it sees the executive power and interest groups within states to be pursuing a welfarist objective which is best satisfied by the integration of EU states. The thinking behind the neo-functionalist theory can be best described by considering the three mechanisms which neo-functionalists see as key to driving the process of integration forwards. These are positive spillover, the transfer of domestic allegiances and technocratic automaticity:

  • Positive spillover is the concept that integration between states in one economic sector will quickly create strong incentives for integration in further sectors; in order to fully capture the benefits of integration in the original sector.

 

  • The mechanism of a transfer in domestic allegiances can be best understood by first noting that an important assumption within neo-functionalist thinking is a pluralistic society within the relevant nation-states. Neo-functionalists claim that, as the process of integration gathers pace, interest groups and associations within the pluralistic societies of the individual nation states will transfer their allegiance away from national institutions toward the supranational European institutions. They will do this because they will, in theory, come to realise that these newly formed institutions are a better conduit through which to pursue their material interests than the pre-existing national institutions.

 

  • Finally, technocratic automaticity describes the way in which, as integration hastens, the supranational institutions set up to oversee that integration process will themselves take the lead in sponsoring further integration as they become more powerful and more autonomous of the member states.
     

FAQs

Is national law superseded by EU legislation?

In the event of a dispute between a provision of EU law and a provision of national law in a member state of the EU, EU law shall take precedence, according to the concept of the primacy of EU law. If not, EU member states could simply allow their domestic laws to supersede main or secondary EU legislation, rendering the implementation of EU policy impossible.

How does EU law impact the UK?

 

Since the UK joined the EC in 1973, EU regulation has influenced a wide range of sectors of UK law. Trade, agriculture, financial services, and the environment are the areas of UK law where the EU has the most impact. Immigration and employment are only two such areas that have been impacted.