In addition to preliminary rulings on the correct interpretation of EU law, an essential task of the Court of Justice is judicial review of acts of the Union itself. Article 263(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) allows the Court of Justice to review the legality of a Union legislator or of any other `act` in the light of the Treaties or general principles such as the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. These include laws and most other laws that have legal consequences for individuals. For example, in Société anonyme Cimenteries CBR Cementsbedrijven NV v Commission[154], the Commission decided to withdraw assurances from a Dutch cement plant that it would be exempted from competition fines for vertical agreements. The cement plant challenged the decision and the Commission argued that it was not really an „act” and therefore could not be challenged. The Court held that an appeal was possible and that it was an act because it „deprived [the cement company] of the advantages of a legal position”. and exposed them to serious financial risks.” [155] Similarly, in the Deutsche Post v Commission case, the Commission requested, within 20 days, information on the state aid granted by Germany to Deutsche Post. When both questioned this, the Commission argued that the request for information could not be an act since there was no sanction. The Court disagreed and ruled that judicial review could continue because the application had „binding legal effects”, since the information submitted could be used as evidence in a final decision. [156] In IBM/Commission,[157] the Court held that a letter from the Commission to IBM informing it that it would be suing IBM for abuse of an anti-competitive dominant position was not a verifiable act, but merely an interim statement of intent.

In any event, an act open to challenge by an EU institution shall be annulled under Article 264 if it is incompatible with the law. In the West, the Treaty of Rome of 1957 decided to establish the first European Economic Community. It shares the Assembly and the Court of Justice with the Coal and Steel Community, but creates parallel bodies for the Council and the Commission. On the basis of the Spaak Report of 1956, it aims to eliminate all barriers to trade in a common market for goods, services, labour and capital, to avoid distortions of competition and to regulate areas of common interest such as agriculture, energy and transport. [21] A separate treaty establishing a European Atomic Energy Community for the management of nuclear power generation has been signed. In 1961, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Ireland and Norway applied for membership, which was vetoed by Frenchman Charles de Gaulle in 1963. Spain also applied and was rejected because it was still ruled by the Franco dictatorship. In the same year, the Court declared the Community to constitute a `new legal order of international law`. [5] The 1965 Merger Treaty finally integrated the ECSC and Euratom into the EEC. Shortly afterwards, de Gaulle boycotted the Commission, which, in his view, was pushing supranationalism too far. The Luxembourg Compromise of 1966 provided that France (or other countries) could veto matters of „very important national interest”, in particular those relating to the common agricultural policy, instead of taking decisions by „qualified majority”.

But after the events of May 1968 in France and the resignation of de Gaulle, the way was clear for the accession of the United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark in 1973. Norway refused to participate in a referendum in 1972, while the United Kingdom confirmed its membership in a referendum in 1975. [22] Figure 4 shows the distribution of EU legislation (all types of legislation) adopted between 1967 and 2012. While the concept of a „social market economy” was only transposed into EU law in 2007[179], free movement and trade have been at the heart of European development since the 1957 Treaty of Rome. [180] The standard theory of comparative advantage states that two countries can both benefit from trade, even if one has a less productive economy in all respects. [181] Like the North American Free Trade Association or the World Trade Organization, EU law removes barriers to trade by creating rights to the free movement of goods, services, labour and capital. The aim is to reduce consumer prices and raise living standards. Early theorists argued that a free trade area would give way to a customs union that would lead to a common market, then to a monetary union, then to a union of monetary and fiscal policy, and finally to a complete union characteristic of a federal state. [182] But in Europe, these phases were mixed, and it is not clear whether the „final phase” was supposed to be the same as a state.

Free trade, without the right to ensure fair trade, can benefit some groups within countries (especially large corporations) more than others, and disadvantage people who lack bargaining power in an expanding market, especially workers, consumers, small businesses, development industries and communities. [183] For this reason, the European Union has become „not only an economic union,” but creates binding social rights for people „in order to ensure social progress and to fight for the continuous improvement of the living and working conditions of their peoples.” [184] Articles 28 to 37 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union enshrine the principle of the free movement of goods within the EU, while Articles 45 to 66 prescribe the free movement of persons, services and capital. These „four freedoms” have been reinforced by physical barriers (e.g. customs), technical barriers (e.g. different laws on security, consumer or environmental standards) and tax barriers (e.g. different VAT rates). [185] Freedom of movement and trade are not intended to give carte blanche to unrestricted commercial gain. [186] The Treaties and the Court of Justice increasingly aim to ensure that free trade serves higher values such as public health, consumer protection, workers` rights, fair competition and environmental improvement.

The second most important legislative body is the Council, which is composed of different ministers from the Member States. The Heads of Government of the Member States also convene a „European Council” (separate body) which, in accordance with Article 15 TEU, „gives the necessary impetus to its development and defines the general political guidelines and priorities”. It meets every six months and its president (currently former Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel) is supposed to „advance his work”[67], but he himself does not exercise any „legislative function”. [68] This is what the Council does: it is actually the governments of the Member States, but there will be a different minister at each meeting, depending on the subject matter (e.g. for the environment, the environment ministers of the Member States participate and vote; for foreign affairs, foreign ministers, etc.). The Minister must be empowered to represent and bind Member States in decision-making. [69] When voting, it is weighted inversely according to the size of the Member States, so that small Member States are not dominated by large Member States. [70] There are 352 votes in total, but most acts require qualified majority voting, if not consensus. Article 16(4) TEU and Article 238(3) TFEU define this definition as at least 55% of Council members (not votes) representing 65% of the EU population: currently around 74% or 260% of the 352 votes.

This is crucial during the legislative process. [71] In addition to human rights, the Court has recognized at least five other „general principles” of EU law. First, legal certainty requires decisions to be forward-looking, open and clear. Second, when considering a discretionary act by a powerful government or body, decision-making must be „proportionate” to a legitimate aim. For example, if a government wishes to amend a labour law in a neutral manner, but this could have a disproportionately negative impact on women rather than men, the government must demonstrate a legitimate objective and that its actions (1) are appropriate or appropriate to achieve it, (2) do not do more than necessary, and (3) are reasonable to balance the competing rights of different parties. [176] Third, equality is seen as a fundamental principle: this applies in particular to workers` rights, political rights, and access to public or private services. [177] Fourth, the right to a fair trial has been declared a general principle, although it is true that this is clearly reflected in most human rights instruments. Fifth, there is a general principle of solicitor-client privilege. The categories of general principles are not closed and may evolve according to the social expectations of people living in Europe. The EU judiciary has played an important role in the development of EU law. It interprets the treaties and has accelerated economic and political integration. [78] Today, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) is the main judicial body, with a Supreme Court dealing with cases of major public importance and a Court dealing with details but not of general application, then a separate Court of Auditors.

Article 19(2) of the Treaty on European Union provides for one judge per Member State before the Court of Justice and the General Court (currently 28 judges[79]). Judges should have „the qualifications required for appointment to the highest judicial offices” (or, for the Court, the „capacity required for appointment to high judicial office”). [80] A president is elected by the judges for a three-year term. While Article 19(3) TEU provides that the Court of Justice is the court of last resort for the interpretation of questions of EU law, in practice most EU law is applied by the courts of the Member States (e.g.dem. the English Court of Appeal, the German Federal Court of Justice, the Belgian Labour Court, etc.). [81] The courts of the Member States may refer questions to the CJEU for a preliminary ruling. The CJEU`s duty is to „ensure that the law is respected in the interpretation and application of treaties”, although it realistically has the capacity to extend and develop the law in accordance with the principles it has developed, in line with democratic values.