Community Legislation

The United Kingdom, being a member of the European Union, has under the European Communities Act 1972 decreed that all rights, obligations, etc. created by or arising under the EEC treaties are part of United Kingdom law. The effect of this is that the basic law contained in the Treaties themselves became a part of the law of the United Kingdom by what has been styled ‘self enforcement’. The same situation applies to all member-countries of the EU. There are two main types of Community legislation; Regulations and the Directives. Regulations are directly applicable in all Member States and are therefore, upon being issued, immediately law within all Member States. This is, therefore, a means of achieving uniformity of law within the Community. Regulations must not be re-enacted in any way and Member States must not in any way interfere with their application. Uniformity, however, may not be possible or desirable given the different national traditions and systems of law. To meet this difficulty a Directive may be issued. This will require each Member State to achieve a particular result within a set time limit, but leave some degree of choice of method and detail to each individual Member State. Directives are intended to achieve harmonisation, not uniformity. A third type of Community instrument is the Decision. This is different from both Regulations and Directives, in that it is particular, rather than general, in character. It is used primarily where a Member State must ask permission from the Community in order to depart from the terms of a Community Treaty. It may also in certain circumstances confer rights on private individuals.