European Union - Directives 'Directly Effective'? To What Extent
Posted: 18 Aug 2008 Last revised: 29 Jul 2010
Date Written: August 8, 2008
The European Community has had a decidedly significant impact upon the legal systems of the Member States. It was established in 1957 by the Treaty of Rome, the main objectives being to develop stability throughout Europe by means of encouraging a closer union between member states. It has evolved a long way since having developed its own institutions and an autonomous legal system, with laws that bind each member state ultimately enabling it to regulate the rights and obligations of its members. It achieves this primarily through Treaties, a primary form of EC legislation that forms the basis of all other European Law. However the effect of EC treaties is unlike that of any other international agreement as the latter bind only states at an intergovernmental level and do not of themselves give rise to rights or interests which the citizens of the states can have enforced before their own national courts even if they are designed for the protection of individuals. Although the text of EC treaties does not indicate that their provisions will be any different, the ECJ has taken its own view as to the nature and effect of treaties known as the doctrine of 'direct effect.'
This jurisprudential concept means that individuals are able to derive rights directly from community law, which can be enforced in their own national courts. It is a private species of enforcement, placing control in the hands of ordinary individuals as distinct from the public enforcement mechanism of community law as contained in Article 226 of the Treaty of Rome which enabled the Commission to bring proceedings against member states for breaches. This system was deficient in many ways as, not only was it unable to cope with the increasing work load and had insufficient remedies, it was political in nature. Direct effect, on the other hand, has allowed individuals to play a role and has potentially brought the community into the lives of every citizen. However despite its significance, it is important to put it into context of the many types of community law, not all of which entail direct effect or which can only be directly effective in certain circumstances, such as directives.
Keywords: European Union, Directives, Direct Effect, Indirect Effect
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