Competencies and Legal Nature of the EU

Legal Nature of the EU

The Lisbon Treaty provides the framework for two treaties that make up the new primary law of the EU: the TEU (amended version) and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which replaces the EC Treaty. While the TEU generally contains the basic provisions (e.g. on values, goals, democratic principles, EU organs and increased cooperation between the member states), the TFEU implements the basic provisions set out in the TEU and relates them to the cross-policy The organization and functioning of the EU, the legal acts and legislative procedures specific to the policy area, the principles and objectives that guide EU action in each policy area, as well as the scope and depth of intervention of the Union’s competences vis-à-vis the legal systems of the member states, depending on the policy area. Both contracts are of equal priority and are explained in more detail by means of protocols. They are not intended as a constitution, but contain essential elements of the failed Constitutional Treaty. Article 47 TEU gives the EU its own legal personality; it takes the place of the European Community as the legal successor.

After the Maastricht Treaty came into force (November 1, 1993), the “three pillars” of the EU were a common image to illustrate its political structure. The EU only formed a “roof” that the European Communities, the CFSP and cooperation in the field of justice and home affairs (ZJI; large parts of the ZJI were incorporated into the EC with the Treaty of Amsterdam [May 1, 1999], see above that in the »third pillar« only police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters [PJZS] remained) served as an institutional framework. While decisions in policy areas that were assigned to the European Communities were mostly made according to the supranational decision-making process ( supranationality), the principle of the prevailed in the areas of CFSP and PJZS Intergovernmentalism. This three-pillar structure was abolished with the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty by creating a uniform legal framework, giving the EU legal personality and expanding the policy areas in which supranational decision-making procedures apply. The CFSP, on the other hand, is still subject to special provisions and decision-making procedures.

The member states of the EU (since July 1, 2013: Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Great Britain (resigned on January 31, 2020), Ireland, Italy, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Cyprus) have gradually transferred competencies to the European level. The Lisbon Treaty categorizes responsibilities and makes the distribution between the EU and member states more transparent. According to Article 2 TFEU, there are areas of exclusive EU competence, areas of shared competence and those in which the EU only carries out supporting, coordinating or complementary measures. Is the EU only responsible in principle, only the EU is authorized to legislate. The Member States can only act if the EU gives them the authority to do so or to implement EU legal acts. According to Article 3 TFEU, there is exclusive competence for the policy areas of customs union, competition rules in the internal market, monetary policy in the euro zone, conservation of marine biological resources within the framework of the common fisheries policy and common trade policy. Shared competence means that both the EU and Member States have the power to adopt binding legal acts. In general, however, the Member States only exercise their competence if and to the extent that the EU does not exercise its competence. Article 4 TFEU names the internal market, social policy with regard to the aspects covered by the treaty as policy areas of shared competence, economic, social and territorial cohesion, agriculture and fisheries with the exception of the conservation of marine biological resources, the environment, transport, trans-European networks, energy, European home and justice policy and common security concerns in the field of public health. In the areas of research, technological development, space, development cooperation and humanitarian aid, the EU can only adopt measures and draw up programs that do not hinder the national policies of the Member States. The EU may only act in a supporting, coordinating or complementary manner in the following areas: protection and improvement of human health, industry, culture, tourism, education and training, youth and sport, civil protection and administrative cooperation.

The basis for the transfer of competences to the EU is the principle of limited individual authorization (Article 5 TEU). According to this, the member states have to transfer all competences individually to the EU and these have to be explicitly listed in the corresponding treaties. In all other cases, responsibility remains with the Member States. According to the principle of subsidiarity, the EU may only take action in areas that do not fall within its exclusive competence if and to the extent that the objectives sought at the level of the Member States (within the framework of national legislation and administration) are not achieved sufficiently and therefore better at Community level be able.

According to Countryaah, the EU is not a new (federal) state, although the member states have transferred a number of state competencies and thus also parts of their own statehood to it. However, the EU can only act within the framework of these transfers, so it cannot, unlike a state, create new fields of activity for itself. Even though the rights of the European Parliament were decisively expanded in the Treaty of Lisbon (e.g. raising the co-decision procedure to the ordinary legislative procedure), the European Parliament is not alone in legitimizing the action of the EU institutions; rather, the democratic legitimation of the EU’s measures takes place mainly through the national peoples of the member states, i. H. through their national parliaments, which, by electing the governments, Send representatives to the Council of Ministers and the European Council. The EU is thus based on a double legitimation basis. This also means that tasks and powers of substantial weight must remain with the national parliaments. The structure of the EU is thus a new type of association of states, which is referred to as a »association of states« or an »international organization of its own« and within the framework of which both the member states and the EU have preserved their legal personality.

Legal Nature of the EU