Actors and sources of EU Law


Actors of EU Law 

  • European Commission 
  • Council 
  • European Council 
  • European Parliament 
  • Court of Justice of the European Union 

Sources of EU Law 

  • Primary and secondary legislation 

Seperation of powers in the EU?

  • In the EU, seperation of powers is less clear cut than in the UK. 
  • The principle of seperation of pwoers is not included in the Treaties or the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union. 
  • Instead, there is a pluralistic and flexible interplay of authority between the EU institutions. 
  • The interplay of power between the institutions depends on the way in which competences are allocated. 


  • The main EU institutions are provided by Article 13 of the Treaty on the European Union. These are; the European Parliament; European Commission; Council of the European Union; European Council; Court of Justice of the European Union; European Central Bank; Court of Auditors. 

European Parliament 

  • Article 14 of the Treaty on European Union and Articles 223-227 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. 
  • The European Parliament is comprised of directly elected Ministers of European Parliament. Each MEP is elected for a 5 year term. They are grouped by political affinity, not nationality. 
  • The European Parliament is co-equal legislator for almost all European laws. 
  • European Parliament committees are active in reviewing proposed legislation. 
  • The European Parliament is the budgetary authority of the EU. 
  • The European Parliament elects the President of the Commission and installs the whole Commission. 
  • The influence of the European Parliament has grown, but is the European Parliament democratically legitimate?
  • The Council and the European Parliament are equal partners in the formation of legislation. After the Lisbon Treaty 'co-decision' is known as the 'ordinary legislative procedure'. 
  • Co-decision covers a wide range of areas in the Treaty of Lisbon including agriculture, fisheries, transport, criminal law. 
  • Co-decision does not include the Common Foreign Security Policy. 

Legislative process 

  • The European Commission drafts the initial legislative proposal. 
  • This proposal is passed to the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union. The European Parliament's position is drafted by the relevant Committee and this is adopted by the majority of MEPs. The Commission then receives the Parliament's proposal and then approves or rejects it after it has considered the Commission's original proposal. If the Commission agrees with the Parliament's proposal then the law is passed. If the Commission disagrees with the proposal then further negotiation with Parliament occurs. 

European Council 

  • Donald Tusk is the President of the European Council. 
  • The European Council is a 'newcomer' in the list of the formal EU institutions. 
  • The European Council is made up of the Heads of State and Governments of the Member States. The European Council President (Donald Tusk) and the European Commission President also reside. 
  • The European Council provides political direction for the European Council. 
  • The European Council can adopt binding (non-legislative) acts which can be challenged before the Court of Justice of the European Union. 
  • The European Council can also be sued for failure to act. 
  • Donald Tusk is


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