Overview of the EU legal system
Produced in partnership with Laura Bolado
Overview of the EU legal system

The following Public Law practice note Produced in partnership with Laura Bolado provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Overview of the EU legal system
  • Introduction to the EU legal system
  • Conferral
  • Primacy
  • Sincere co-operation
  • Subsidiarity
  • Proportionality
  • Competences of the EU and of its Member States
  • Proportionality Exclusive competence
  • Proportionality Shared competence
  • More...

IP COMPLETION DAY: 11pm (GMT) on 31 December 2020 marks the end of the Brexit transition/implementation period entered into following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. At this point in time (referred to in UK law as ‘IP completion day’), key transitional arrangements come to an end and significant changes begin to take effect across the UK’s legal regime. This document contains guidance on subjects impacted by these changes. Before continuing your research, see Practice Note: What does IP completion day mean for public law?

Introduction to the EU legal system

The EU legal system is sui generis—there is no other legal system it can be compared to, though it draws elements from many. The key to understanding how it works is to avoid trying to subsume it into (or compare it to) a national system and observe its behaviour from different angles.

From its inception, the EU (at the time, the EEC) was intended to grow and become more than an economic bloc, which is why the founding member states agreed to transfer parcels of sovereignty to the newly 'supranational' institutions. Supranational as the word indicates is something placed over a national structure. The term is used to denote the opposite to intergovernmental where decisions are taken by consensus and linked to national government interests.

Upon joining the EU, Member States are no longer able to adopt,

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