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Advanced Introduction to European Union Law

European Union Law

Jacques Ziller

This book explains how member states of the EU confer powers to the Union through the founding treaties and the legal frame applicable to the Union’s institutions, and the rules that apply to their functioning and the legal review of their action. It reviews the main fields of action of the EU – the internal market, area of freedom, security and justice, external action – and how law is shaping them. The interaction between the EU and its member states is also explained.
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Specific features of EU law

Jacques Ziller


EU law is distinct from both international and municipal law as a legal regime and from the point of view of its basic features. EU law scholarship usually insists mainly on direct applicability and primacy as fundamental characteristics, the specific nature of which are cornerstones of the autonomy of EU law. There are other features which often attract less attention from scholarship but also need to be understood in order to properly work with EU law. These features include sincere cooperation and the search for effet utile, as well as multilingualism and variable geometry.

The concept of autonomy of EU law received relatively little attention from scholarship between the early 1970s and the 2010s. It had been central to the CJEU’s doctrine when the Court first judged on 5 February 1963 in van Gend en Loos, C-26/62 that the “Community constitutes a new legal order of international law for the benefit of which Member States have limited their sovereign rights”; and on 15 July 1964 in Costa v ENEL, 6/64 that “by contrast with ordinary international treaties, the EEC Treaty has created its own legal system” and that community law arose out of an “independent source”. The concept of autonomy has been occasionally highlighted in the CJEU’s jurisprudence and with particular force in more recent times, such as in the paramount Opinion 2/13 on the agreement for the accession of the EU to the ECHR. In that opinion the Court ruled, among other, that “the EU has a...

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