EU law is a common law that is enforced in the territory of the European Union through various legal acts and documents. These are created and approved according to the procedures laid down in the articles of EU Treaties ratified by the EU Member States. EU laws serve the purpose of the European Union.
Individual legal acts and documents are of a different scope and have different implications. Some of them are legally binding for Member States, citizens or businesses, others are not. Similarly, some of them impact all of the countries in the European Union, others can only concern some of the member states. Some regulations may even apply to companies outside the European Union (e.g. GDPR).
What are the main types of EU legal documents?
- EU Regulations are the most powerful legal documents. They are legally binding in its entirety throughout the EU. An example of a EU regulation is GDPR.
- EU Directives set objectives that have to be achieved by the EU member states. Each state has to draft and adopt such acts so that the these objectives can be met. An example of a EU Directive is the EU Consumer Rights Directive or PSD2 (The Second Payment Services Directive) PSD2}
- Decisions are binding for all for whom they are intended, e.g. individual states, companies or other organizations. An example is a EU Decision is the decision on EU participation in various counter-terrorism organizations.
- Recommendations are not binding
- Opinions serve to express an opinion on a particular topic or issue. They are not binding and hence do not as such constitute a legal obligation.