Q&As

Does an EU Treaty take precedence over a Directive?

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Published on LexisPSL on 17/09/2015

The following Local Government Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Does an EU Treaty take precedence over a Directive?
  • Sources of EU law
  • Primary sources
  • Secondary sources
  • Tertiary sources
  • Principles and interpretation of EU law
  • Conferral
  • Supremacy
  • Subsidiarity
  • Proportionality
  • More...

Does an EU Treaty take precedence over a Directive?

This Q&A concerns high level principles regarding the relationship between (and interpretation of) different sources of EU law (as opposed to the relationship between EU law and the law of EU Member States).

Sources of EU law

Primary sources

The 'primary' sources of EU law are the EU founding Treaties, such as the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and the Treaty on European Union (TEU), which set out EU competencies and provide the basis for actions taken by the EU institutions. They set out EU objectives, rules and provisions governing decision making by EU institutions and the relationship between the EU and its Member States. The EU can only act within the limits of the competences conferred on it by Treaty (see the principles of conferral below). In that sense, the EU Treaties have primacy. Amendments to the Treaties may be made to allow for efficiency, transparency, enlargement and co-operation (see: Amendment and ratification of EU Treaties). Where the Treaties do not confer competences on the EU, they remain with the Member States. EU treaties come into force after ratification by all Member States. The constitutional law in some Member States requires a referendum to be held prior to ratification. In UK law, EU treaties require an Act of Parliament to be ratified.

Secondary sources

The EU

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