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Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Law, Organisation Theory

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School of Languages, Law and Social Sciences, Technological University Dublin, 2016.


The doctrines of the supremacy of the European Union (EU) and of the direct effect of EU law are both based on the competence of the EU . The EU can act only within the limits of its competence, and has them only as much as entrusted its Member States. Before this state of affairs, the competences of the EU were regulated by Articles 5 and 7 of the Treaty Establishing the European Community (Consolidated Version, 2002)[1]:

The Community shall act within the limits of the powers conferred upon it by this Treaty and of the objectives assigned to it therein[…]The tasks entrusted to the Community shall be carried out by the following institutions:[…] Each institution shall act within the limits of the powers conferred upon it by this Treaty.

The current treaties are linked to the above rules. For example, Article 4 in paragraph 1 of the Consolidated Version of the Treaty on EU states that: “In accordance with Article 5, competences not conferred upon the Union in the Treaties remain with the Member States”[2].

The main purpose of this essay is to analyse which doctrine has had the bigger impact on EU law: direct effect or supremacy. The essay consists of an introductory section which sets the context, three chapters and a list of sources.

The first chapter analyses and interprets the doctrine of the supremacy of EU law. It provides a clear definition of the doctrine of supremacy, supported by relevant case law. In addition, it presents a historic account of the determination of the supremacy doctrine.

Determinants of the doctrine of the direct effect of EU law is the topic of the second chapter. In this section, the author explains the mechanism of the doctrine of the direct effect and outlines the conditions for direct effect. Finally, it provides information regarding the monist and dualist systems of law ,and the difference between the vertical and horizontal effects.

The third chapter interprets the results and attempts to answer to the question: “Which doctrine has had the bigger impact on EU law, direct effect or supremacy?” This question is answered by using the integral methodology of research, recognised within the social sciences and law. In this instance, the comparative method was relevant to presenting the bilateral relations between both doctrines and their impacts.

[1] Treaty establishing the European Community (Consolidated version 2002), Official Journal C 325, 24/12/2002 P. 0033 – 0184.

[2] Consolidated version of the Treaty on European Union, Official Journal C 326 , 26/10/2012 P. 0001 – 0390.



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