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26 April 2014

What Are EU's Legal Competences? The Facts About The Impact Of The EU On The UK

Many people in the EU seem to be concerned about the impact of the EU on their national legislation. Here in a nutshell, are the rules as laid down in the Lisbon Treaty.

These rules define the areas where the EU can legislate, where it can't, and where it shares competences with the Member States.

European Union law is a body of treaties, law and court judgements which operates alongside the legal systems of the European Union's member states.

The Treaty of Lisbon (The Treaty on the Function of the European Union TFEU) clarifies the division of competences between the European Union (EU) and Member States.


Exclusive competences (Article 3 of the TFEU) the EU alone is able to legislate and adopt binding acts only in the following five areas;
  • (a) customs union;
  • (b) the establishing of the competition rules necessary for the functioning of the internal market;
  • (c) monetary policy for the Member States whose currency is the euro;
  • (d) the conservation of marine biological resources under the common fisheries policy;
  • (e) common commercial policy.
Shared competences (Article 4 of the TFEU) the EU AND the Member States are authorised to adopt binding acts in the following fields;
  • (a) internal market;
  • (b) social policy, for the aspects defined in the TFEU;
  • (c) economic, social and territorial cohesion;
  • (d) agriculture and fisheries, excluding the conservation of marine biological resources;
  • (e) environment;
  • (f) consumer protection;
  • (g) transport;
  • (h) trans-European networks;
  • (i) energy;
  • (j) area of freedom, security and justice;
  • (k) common safety concerns in public health matters, for the aspects defined in the TFEU.
Supporting competences (Article 6 of the TFEU): the EU can only intervene to support, coordinate or complement the action of Member States. Consequently, it has no legislative power in these fields and may not interfere in the exercise of these competences reserved for Member States.

In these areas, the EU may not adopt legally binding acts that require the member states to harmonise their laws and regulations.

The EU has NO competence to harmonise legislation in force in the Member States in the following areas:
  • (a) protection and improvement of human health;
  • (b) industry;
  • (c) culture;
  • (d) tourism;
  • (e)education, vocational training, youth and sport;
  • (f) civil protection;
  • (g) administrative cooperation.
  • The Union has only the competences conferred upon it by the Treaties;
  • The exercise of EU competences may not exceed what is necessary to achieve the objectives of the Treaties;
  • The EU may intervene only if it is capable of acting more effectively than the Member States For more information
Go to  for further information if you are interested in having a better understanding of how the EU impacts on the law in the United Kingdom.

Perhaps also consult the ongoing Balance of Competences Review which is currently being conducted by the UK government.
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