Glossary

Law and Contemporary Problems, Winter 2004 | Go to article overview

Glossary


This glossary should provide a helpful overview of terms of art and legal sources to those who are unfamiliar with the European legal system

Sources of Law

Founding Treaties

* Treaty Establishing the European Coal and Steel Community (1951). Expired in 2002.

* Treaty Establishing the European Economic Community (1957), in 1992 renamed the European Community ("Treaty of Rome" or "EC Treaty"), articles renumberd in the Amsterdam Treaty (1997).

* Treaty Establishing the European Atomic Energy Community (1957) ("Euratom Treaty").

* Single European Act (1986). After a period of stagnation, the Single European Act gave renewed political impetus to the construction of a common market. The principal lawmaking devices for enabling the free circulation of goods, workers, capital, and services are recognition of regulatory requirements in the Member States as equivalent ("mutual recognition") and the enactment of common, European regulatory standards in the face of widely divergent standards in the Member States ("harmonization").

* Maastricht Treaty on European Union (1992) ("Maastricht Treaty").

* Treaty of Amsterdam (1997).

* Treaty of Nice (2001).

* Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe ("Constitutional Treaty"), drafted by the Constitutional Convention, approved by European Heads of State on June 18, 2004, and signed by European Heads of State on October 29, 2004. It must now be ratified by each of the Member States. The Constitutional Treaty would replace the EC Treaty and the Maastricht Treaty. A protocol to the Constitutional Treaty modifies, but does not replace, the Treaty Establishing the European Atomic Energy Community.

Laws

* Regulation: Binding on citizens and Member States. The form of European law closest to a U.S. statute.

* Directives: Binding on Member States. Require implementing legislation or other measures by the Member States. Directives generally specify the ends to be accomplished, but allow Member States discretion when they implement through national legislation and rules.

* Decisions: Binding only on those named in the decision. Generally, decisions are individual administrative determinations, issued by the European Commission to economic operators in areas like competition, international trade, and customs law. However, decisions can be addressed to Member States. Decisions can also be addressed to particular European institutions, setting down their procedures, allocating the budget, and deciding other institutional matters. In these cases, decisions approximate U.S. statutes.

Implementing regulations

Any measure applicable to a class of individuals or firms and issued pursuant to a delegation in a law, generally issued by the European Commission. They approximate U.S. rules or regulations.

Decisions

Binding on the individuals named in the decision. Generally, individual determinations issued by the Commission to economic operators pursuant to the Treaties or European laws in areas like competition, international trade, and customs duties.

Case Law

Judgments of the Court of Justice and the Court of First Instance ("European Courts").

Administrative Bodies

European Commission

Staffed by European civil servants, located in Brussels, and headed by a President and College of Commissioners appointed by the Member States with the consent of the European Parliament. The Commission is responsible for implementing and enforcing, i.e. administering, European law. The Commission also exercises legislative powers, through the power to propose European laws to the government bodies with the power to vote and enact laws (the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament).

Comitology committees

Assist the Commission in exercising the powers delegated to it by the Council or the Council and Parliament. …

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