THE EUROPEAN UNION
The European Union — EU. In geographical terms, the European Union comprises the combined territories of its Member States. Since the Treaty of Lisbon (see 15.15), it now has legal personality in its own right and absorbs what used to be known as the European Community/ies. Although it is often abbreviated to ‘Union’ in legislation (e.g. in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union), this practice should be avoided in other texts. Use either the full form or the abbreviation ‘EU’.
The (European) Community/ies. Now absorbed by the European Union, so the name should no longer be used except in historical references. Use instead ‘the European Union’ or ‘EU’. For example, ‘Community policy/institutions/legislation’ should now read ‘European Union / EU /policy/institutions/legislation’. However, note that the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) continues to exist.
Common, meaning EU, is still used in set phrases such as common fisheries policy, common agricultural (not agriculture) policy, etc. Do not use the term in this sense outside these set phrases.
Common market. This term is normally used in EU documents only in phrases such as ‘the common market in goods and services’.
Single market. This term is generally preferable to internal market (which has other connotations in the UK), except in standard phrases such as ‘completing the internal market’, which was originally the title of the key White Paper.
The Twenty-seven (Twenty-five, Fifteen, Twelve, Ten, Nine, Six). These expressions are sometimes used to refer to different memberships of the European Union at different periods. In this context the only correct abbreviation is EU-27, 25, 15, 12, 10, 9 or 6 (not EUR-25 etc.) to avoid confusion with the euro.
Acquis. The acquis (note the italics) is the body of EU law in the broad sense, comprising:
- the Treaties and other instruments of similar status (primary legislation);
- the legislation adopted under the Treaties (secondary legislation);
- the case law of the Court of Justice;
- the declarations and resolutions adopted by the EU;
- measures relating to the common foreign and security policy;
- measures relating to justice and home affairs;
- international agreements concluded by the EU and those concluded by the Member States among themselves in connection with the EU’s activities.
Note that the term covers ‘soft’ law as well, e.g. EU guidelines, policies and recommendations.
Candidate countries have to accept the entire acquis and translate it into their national language before they can join the EU.
If qualified, acquis may also refer to a specific part of EU law, e.g. the Schengen acquis.
When you are producing documents intended for the general public, use the term acquis only with an accompanying explanation, or paraphrase it with a more readily understood expression, such as ‘the body of EU law’.
The way in which the European Union operates is regulated by a series of Treaties and various other agreements having similar status. Together they constitute what is known as primary legislation.
THE TREATIES — AN OVERVIEW
The treaties founding the European Union (originally the European Communities) were:
- the ECSC Treaty (Paris, 1951), which established the European Coal and Steel Community (expired in 2002),
- the EEC Treaty (Rome, 1957), which established the European Economic Community (later the EC Treaty, now the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union),
- the Euratom Treaty (Rome, 1957), which established the European Atomic Energy Community.
Then in 1992 the European Union was established by:
- the EU Treaty (Maastricht, 1992).
Over the years these founding Treaties have been amended by:
- the Merger Treaty (1965)
- the Budget Treaty (1975)
- the Greenland Treaty (1984)
- the Single European Act (1986)
- the Treaty of Amsterdam (1997)
- the Treaty of Nice (2001)
- the Treaty of Lisbon (2007)
- five Accession Treaties (1972; 1979; 1985; 1994; 2003).
THE TREATIES IN DETAIL
Order of listing. When listed together the Treaties should be put in historical order: ECSC Treaty, EEC Treaty, Euratom Treaty, EU Treaty.
ECSC Treaty — Treaty establishing the European Coal and Steel Community.
Signed in Paris on 18 April 1951, it came into force on 23 July 1952 and expired on 23 July 2002. It is sometimes also called the Treaty of Paris.
Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).
This is the new name — introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon — for what was formerly known as the EC Treaty (Treaty establishing the European Community) and earlier still as the EEC Treaty (Treaty establishing the European Economic Community). The original EEC Treaty was signed in Rome on 25 March 1957 and came into force on 1 January 1958.
Euratom Treaty — Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community.
Also signed in Rome on 25 March 1957, it came into force on 1 January 1958. The standard form is now Euratom Treaty rather than EAEC Treaty.
Treaties of Rome refers to the EEC and Euratom Treaties together.
Merger Treaty — Treaty establishing a Single Council and a Single Commission of the European Communities.
Signed in Brussels on 8 April 1965, it came into force on 1 July 1967.
Budget Treaty — Treaty amending certain Financial Provisions of the Treaties establishing the European Communities and of the Treaty establishing a Single Council and a Single Commission of the European Communities.
Signed in Brussels on 22 July 1975, it came into force on 1 June 1977.
Greenland Treaty — Treaty amending, with regard to Greenland, the Treaties establishing the European Communities.
Signed on 13 March 1984, it came into force on 1 January 1985. This made arrangements for Greenland’s withdrawal from the then European Communities and granted the island ‘Overseas Countries and Territories’ status.
Single European Act.
Signed in Luxembourg and The Hague on 17 and 28 February 1986, it came into force on 1 July 1987. This was the first major substantive amendment to the EEC Treaty. It committed the signatories to a single European market by the end of 1992 and generally expanded the scope of European policy-making. It also made minor amendments to the ECSC and Euratom Treaties.
Treaty on European Union (TEU) or EU Treaty.
Signed in Maastricht on 7 February 1992, it came into force on 1 November 1993. Often known as the Maastricht Treaty, it established a European Union based on (1) the existing Communities plus (2) a common foreign and security policy (CFSP) and (3) cooperation on justice and home affairs (JHA).Among other things it gave the European Parliament an equal say with the Council on legislation in some areas and extended the scope of qualified majority voting in the Council. It also laid down a timetable and arrangements for the adoption of a single currency and changed the name of the European Economic Community to the European Community. It has now been amended by the Treaty of Lisbon (see 15.15).
For the short form, write ‘the EU Treaty’ or, in citations, abbreviate to TEU. (see 15.18).
Treaty of Amsterdam — Treaty of Amsterdam amending the Treaty on European Union, the Treaties establishing the European Communities and certain related acts.
Signed in Amsterdam on 2 October 1997, it came into force on 1 May 1999. After enlargement to 15 members in 1995 and with further expansion in prospect, it sought to streamline the system, taking the innovations of Maastricht a step further. Among other things, it broadened the scope of qualified majority voting and brought the Schengen arrangements and much of justice and home affairs into the then Community. It also incorporated the Social Protocol into the EC Treaty. Under the Common Foreign and Security Policy, the arrangements on defence aspects were strengthened. Finally it completely renumbered the articles of the EU and EC Treaties.
Treaty of Nice — Treaty of Nice amending the Treaty on European Union, the Treaties establishing the European Communities and certain related acts.
Signed in Nice on 26 February 2001, it came into force on 1 February 2003. It amended the founding Treaties yet again to pave the way for enlargement to 25 Member States, making certain changes in institutional and decision-making arrangements (qualified majority voting, codecision) and extending still further the areas covered by these arrangements. It changed the name of the Official Journal of the European Communities to ‘Official Journal of the European Union’.
Treaty of Lisbon — Treaty of Lisbon amending the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty establishing the European Community. Signed in Lisbon on 13 December 2007, it came into force on 1 December 2009. It amended the EU’s two core treaties: the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty establishing the European Community. The latter was renamed the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The principal changes include the following:
- the European Union acquired legal personality and absorbed the European Community;
- qualified majority voting was extended to new areas;
- the European Council was made a European institution in its own right and acquired a President elected for 2½ years;
- the post of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (also a Vice-President of the Commission) was established;
- the role of the European Parliament and national parliaments was strengthened;
- a new ‘citizens’ initiative’ introduced the right for citizens to petition the Commission to put forward proposals.
These changes also had major consequences for terminology, in particular all references to ‘Community’ became ‘European Union’ or ‘EU’ and a number of institutions were renamed. This process is still ongoing, though.
Accession treaties. The original Treaties have been supplemented by six treaties of accession. These are:
- the 1972 Treaty of Accession (Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom),
- the 1979 Treaty of Accession (Greece),
- the 1985 Treaty of Accession (Portugal and Spain),
- the 1994 Treaty of Accession (Austria, Finland and Sweden),
- the 2003 Treaty of Accession (Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia),
- the 2005 Treaty of Accession (adding Bulgaria and Romania).
Do not confuse the dates of these Treaties with the actual dates of accession (1973, 1981, 1986, 1995, 2004, 2007).
Note that the accession of Romania and Bulgaria is considered to have completed the fifth enlargement, rather than constituting a sixth enlargement.
Treaties versus Acts of Accession. Take care to distinguish between Treaty of Accession and Act of Accession. Treaties of accession set out principles and regulate ratification, while acts of accession contain the technical details of transitional arrangements and secondary legislation (droit dérivé) requiring amendment.
Citation forms. Always use a treaty’s full title in legislation:
- … the procedure laid down in Article 269 of the Treaty establishing the European Community … (Article 2(2) of Council Decision 2000/597/EC, Euratom)
However, the Treaty of Amsterdam and the Treaty of Nice may be cited as such:
- … five years after the entry into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam …
On the other hand, it is common usage in legal writing (e.g. commentaries, grounds of judgments) to cite the Treaties using a shortened form or abbreviation:
- The wording of Article 17 Euratom reflects …
- Under the terms of Article 97 TFEU the Commission can …
- The arrangements for a rapid decision under Article 30(2) TEU allow …
This form can be used practically anywhere (except, of course, in legislation), especially if the full title is given when it first occurs.
Citing subdivisions of articles. Paragraphs and subparagraphs that are officially designated by numbers or letters should be cited in the following form (note: no spaces):
- Article 107(3)(d) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union …
Subdivisions of an article that are not identified by a number or letter should be cited in the form nth (sub)paragraph of Article XX or, less formally, Article XX, nth (sub)paragraph.
- The first paragraph of Article 110 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union …
- Article 191(2) TFEU, second subparagraph …