- Elgar European Law series
Chapter 11: Conclusion: the challenges of EU consumer law
The lawyer seeking to make coherent sense out of the notion of ‘EU consumer law and policy’ must begin by digesting a dose of constitutional modesty. This not a national system. The European Union does not enjoy a general competence to act as it sees fit, nor does it possess the competence to extend its own competence. Its competences and powers are limited – limited to those supplied by its Member States when they periodically agree the shape and revision of its founding Treaties. This fundamental constitutional principle is known as the principle of conferral. Article 5(2) TEU declares that ‘Under the principle of conferral, the Union shall act only within the limits of the competences conferred upon it by the Member States in the Treaties to attain the objectives set out therein’. It adds that ‘competences not conferred upon the Union in the Treaties remain with the Member States’. The strength of this zeal to preserve the autonomy of the Member States may be appreciated by the repetition of this proviso in Article 4(1) TEU: ‘competences not conferred upon the Union in the Treaties remain with the Member States’.
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