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Law in the EU


The European Union law comprises a set of autonomous rules integrated into the legal systems of the Member States.

Primary Law or the Treaties

The Primary law consists of originating in the European Community and the European Union treaties, all amending Treaties and the treaties and acts of accession.

The European Union is founded on the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and the Treaty on the Functioning of European Union (TFEU) (in later treaties). Both treaties have the same legal value (Art. 1.3 TUE).


General principles of the EU law 

The General principles are a source of inspiration for the constituent treaties and secondary law. While there is an exhaustive list of these principles, we can mention the following:

  • Principles common to all Member States such as liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law.
  • Principles of administrative law as the equal justice for those adminstered, respect for acquired rights or the principle of legitimate expectation.
  • Principles of public international law and other principles of the EU as the principle of primacy of Union law.


International agreements concluded by the EU

The Union may conclude agreements with third countries and other international organizations when envisaged by the treaties or to achieve any of the objectives set out in the treaties. These agreements linked to the EU's institutions and States members (Art. 216 TFEU).


Secondary or derived law

The derivative or secondary law is formed by typical acts and atypical. Acts typical are those listed in Art. 288 TFEU (regulations, directives, decisions, recommendations, opinions), while atypical acts are not set forth in the treaties, being very varied in terms of its scope and content.

  • Typical acts

    The institutions of the European Union shall adopt regulations, directives, decisions, recommendations and opinions to the powers of the Union (Art. 288 TFEU)

    Regulation: it has general scope, is binding in it is entirety and directly applicable to each Member State, is not necessarily a national Act of transposition.

    The directive: obliges the Member State recipient about the outcome that must be achieved, but allows it to elect the form and the means. The Member State shall adopt must pass the laws necessary to comply with EU law by the required date.

       →Calendar for implementing EU directives

    The decision: forces in their entirety. When you designate recipients (Member States, natural persons or legal entities), it will only be mandatory for these.

    The recommendation and the report are not binding, therefore do not create rights or obligations for recipients, but can orient in the interpretation of the EU law.

        Search by number of Directive, regulation or decision

  • Atypical acts

    Within this set of actions, we find:

    The internal regulations of the institutions, which regulate their internal functioning and have no general scope.

    The decisions of the Council without specific recipient and with different legal scope.

    The resolutions of the European Council, the Council of the EU and the European Parliament.

    The statements, on the one hand, those relating to the further development of the Union and, on the other, which interpret the decisions taken by the Council.

    The action programmes of the Council or the Commission on the General objectives set out in the treaties.

    The Commission Green Papers to begin a process of public consultation on a specific policy area.

        → Consult Green Papers

    The White books contain proposals on specific policies depending on the outcome of the Green books.

        Consult White Papers

    The COM / SEC documents with which the Commission submit proposals, queries, and reports.

       → Search by natural number of COM/SEC documents and others



University Library - European Documentation Centre

Universidad de Alicante
Biblioteca de Derecho
Carretera de San Vicente del Raspeig s/n
03690 San Vicente del Raspeig
Alicante (Spain)

Tel: (+34) 96 590 3400

Fax: (+34) 96 590 3464


For further information:, and for enquiries on this web server:

Carretera San Vicente del Raspeig s/n - 03690 San Vicente del Raspeig - Alicante - Tel. 96 590 3400 - Fax 96 590 3464