The EU Legislative Framework
Elgar European Law and Practice series
Chapter 1: INTRODUCTION
In its Van Gend en Loos judgment dating from over half a century ago, the Court of Justice of the European Union (“Court of Justice” or “Court”) made it clear that the new legal order established through the creation of the European Union (“EU”) concerns not only the Member States, on the one hand, and the EU’s institutions and other bodies, on the other hand. Rather, the relationship is triangular in nature, in that private parties can also have a legal position under EU law. Not only can this law create obligations for these private parties, it can also confer rights on them, even where that is not expressly stated, provided that the provision in question is sufficiently clear and unconditional. EU law therefore constitutes ‘a direct source of rights and duties for all those affected thereby, whether Member States or individuals, who are parties to the legal relationships under [EU] law’. As is well known, Van Gend en Loos thus articulated the principle of direct effect. Equally well known is that shortly afterwards the Court confirmed the existence of the principle of primacy of EU law over national law. Together these two principles constitute the ‘essential characteristics’ of the EU legal order. By insisting that private parties can in principle directly exercise and enforce the rights that they derive fromEU law, the Court laid the foundations for what has become known as the private enforcement model of EU law.