Treaties of the European Union

Treaties
of the European Union
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Front page of an EU document containing the consolidated treaties and documents which comprise the legal basis of the EU
LocationItalian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
PurposeEstablishing the laws and principles under which the European Union is governed

The Treaties of the European Union are a set of international treaties between the European Union (EU) member states which sets out the EU's constitutional basis. They establish the various EU institutions together with their remit, procedures and objectives. The EU can only act within the competences granted to it through these treaties and amendment to the treaties requires the agreement and ratification (according to their national procedures) of every single signatory.

Two core functional treaties, the Treaty on European Union (originally signed in Maastricht in 1992) and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (originally signed in Rome in 1957 as the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community), lay out how the EU operates, and there are a number of satellite treaties which are interconnected with them. The treaties have been repeatedly amended by other treaties over the 65 years since they were first signed. The consolidated version of the two core treaties is regularly published by the European Commission.

Content

The two principal treaties on which the EU is based are the Treaty on European Union (TEU; Maastricht Treaty, effective since 1993) and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU; Treaty of Rome, effective since 1958). These main treaties (plus their attached protocols and declarations) have been altered by amending treaties at least once a decade since they each came into force, the latest being the Treaty of Lisbon which came into force in 2009. The Lisbon Treaty also made the Charter of Fundamental Rights legally binding, though it remains a separate document.

Treaty on European Union

Following the preamble the treaty text is divided into six parts.[1]

Title 1, Common Provisions

The first deals with common provisions. Article 1 establishes the European Union on the basis of the European Community and lays out the legal value of the treaties. The second article states that the EU is "founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities". The member states share a "society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail".

Article 3 then states the aims of the EU in six points. The first is simply to promote peace, European values and its citizens' well-being. The second relates to free movement with external border controls are in place. Point 3 deals with the internal market. Point 4 establishes the euro. Point 5 states the EU shall promote its values, contribute to eradicating poverty, observe human rights and respect the charter of the United Nations. The final sixth point states that the EU shall pursue these objectives by "appropriate means" according with its competences given in the treaties.

Article 4 relates to member states' sovereignty and obligations. Article 5 sets out the principles of conferral, subsidiarity and proportionality with respect to the limits of its powers. Article 6 binds the EU to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the European Convention on Human Rights. Article 7 deals with the suspension of a member state and article 8 deals with establishing close relations with neighbouring states.

Title 2, Provisions on democratic principles

Article 9 establishes the equality of national citizens and citizenship of the European Union. Article 10 declares that the EU is founded in representative democracy and that decisions must be taken as closely as possible to citizens. It makes reference to European political parties and how citizens are represented: directly in the Parliament and by their governments in the Council and European Council – accountable to national parliaments. Article 11 establishes government transparency, declares that broad consultations must be made and introduces provision for a petition where at least 1 million citizens may petition the Commission to legislate on a matter. Article 12 gives national parliaments limited involvement in the legislative process.

Title 3, Provisions on the institutions

Article 13 establishes the institutions in the following order and under the following names: the European Parliament, the European Council, the Council, the European Commission, the Court of Justice of the European Union, the European Central Bank and the Court of Auditors. It obliges co-operation between these and limits their competencies to the powers within the treaties.

Article 14 deals with the workings of Parliament and its election, article 15 with the European Council and its president, article 16 with the Council and its configurations and article 17 with the Commission and its appointment. Article 18 establishes the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and article 19 establishes the Court of Justice.

Title 4, Provisions on enhanced cooperations

Title 4 has only one article which allows a limited number of member states to co-operate within the EU if others are blocking integration in that field.

Title 5, General provisions on the Union's external action and specific provisions on the Common Foreign and Security Policy

Chapter 1 of this title includes articles 21 and 22. Article 21 deals with the principles that outline EU foreign policy; including compliance with the UN charter, promoting global trade, humanitarian support and global governance. Article 22 gives the European Council, acting unanimously, control over defining the EU's foreign policy.

Chapter 2 is further divided into sections. The first, common provisions, details the guidelines and functioning of the EU's foreign policy, including establishment of the European External Action Service and member state's responsibilities. Section 2, articles 42 to 46, deal with military cooperation (including Permanent Structured Cooperation and mutual defence).

Title 6, Final provisions

Article 47 establishes a legal personality for the EU. Article 48 deals with the method of treaty amendment; specifically the ordinary and simplified revision procedures. Article 49 deals with applications to join the EU and article 50 with withdrawal. Article 51 deals with the protocols attached to the treaties and article 52 with the geographic application of the treaty. Article 53 states the treaty is in force for an unlimited period, article 54 deals with ratification and 55 with the different language versions of the treaties.

Treaty on the functioning of the European Union

The Treaty on the functioning of the European Union goes into deeper detail on the role, policies and operation of the EU. It is split into seven parts.[1][2]

Part 1, Principles

In principles, article 1 establishes the basis of the treaty and its legal value. Articles 2 to 6 outline the competencies of the EU according to the level of powers accorded in each area. Articles 7 to 14 set out social principles, articles 15 and 16 set out public access to documents and meetings and article 17 states that the EU shall respect the status of religious, philosophical and non-confessional organisations under national law.[2]

Part 2, Non-discrimination and citizenship of the Union

The second part begins with article 18 which outlaws, within the limitations of the treaties, discrimination on the basis of nationality. Article 19 states the EU will "combat discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation". Articles 20 to 24 establishes EU citizenship and accords rights to it;[3] to free movement, consular protection from other states, vote and stand in local and European elections, right to petition Parliament and the European Ombudsman and to contact and receive a reply from EU institutions in their own language. Article 25 requires the Commission to report on the implementation of these rights every three years.[2]

Part 3, Union policies and internal actions

Part 3 on policies and actions is divided by area into the following titles: the internal market; the free movement of goods, including the customs union; agriculture and fisheries; free movement of people, services and capital; the area of freedom, justice and security, including police and justice co-operation; transport policy; competition, taxation and harmonisation of regulations (note Article 101 and Article 102); economic and monetary policy, including articles on the euro; employment policy; the European Social Fund; education, vocational training, youth and sport policies; cultural policy; public health; consumer protection; Trans-European Networks; industrial policy; economic, social and territorial cohesion (reducing disparities in development); research and development and space policy; environmental policy; energy policy; tourism; civil protection; and administrative co-operation.[2]

Part 4, Association of the overseas countries and territories

Part 4 deals with association of overseas territories. Article 198 sets the objective of association as promoting the economic and social development of those associated territories as listed in annex 2. The following articles elaborate on the form of association such as customs duties.[2]

Part 5, External action by the Union

Part 5 deals with EU foreign policy. Article 205 states that external actions must be in accordance with the principles laid out in Chapter 1 Title 5 of the Treaty on European Union. Article 206 and 207 establish the common commercial (external trade) policy of the EU. Articles 208 to 214 deal with cooperation on development and humanitarian aid for third countries. Article 215 deals with sanctions while articles 216 to 219 deal with procedures for establishing international treaties with third countries. Article 220 instructs the High Representative and Commission to engage in appropriate cooperation with other international organisations and article 221 establishes the EU delegations. Article 222, the Solidarity clause states that members shall come to the aid of a fellow member who is subject to a terrorist attack, natural disaster or man-made disaster. This includes the use of military force.[2]

Part 6, Institutional and financial provisions

Part 6 elaborates on the institutional provisions in the Treaty on European Union. As well as elaborating on the structures, articles 288 to 299 outline the forms of legislative acts and procedures of the EU. Articles 300 to 309 establish the European Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions and the European Investment Bank. Articles 310 to 325 outline the EU budget. Finally, articles 326 to 334 establishes provision for enhanced co-operation.[2]

Part 7, General and final provisions

Part 7 deals with final legal points, such as territorial and temporal application, the seat of institutions (to be decided by member states, but this is enacted by a protocol attached to the treaties), immunities and the effect on treaties signed before 1958 or the date of accession.[2]

Protocols, annexes and declarations

There are 37 protocols, 2 annexes and 65 declarations that are attached to the treaties to elaborate details, often in connection with a single country, without being in the full legal text.[1]

Protocols;[4]
  • 1: on the role of National Parliaments in the European Union
  • 2: on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality
  • 3: on the statute of the Court of Justice of the European Union
  • 4: on the statute of the European System of Central Banks and of the European Central Bank
  • 5: on the statute of the European Investment Bank
  • 6: on the location of the seats of the institutions and of certain bodies, offices, agencies and departments of the European Union
  • 7: on the privileges and immunities of the European Union
  • 8: relating to Article 6(2) of the Treaty on European Union on the accession of the Union to the European Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
  • 9: on the decision of the Council relating to the implementation of Article 16(4) of the Treaty on European Union and Article 238(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union between 1 November 2014 and 31 March 2017 on the one hand, and as from 1 April 2017 on the other
  • 10: on permanent structured cooperation established by Article 42 of the Treaty on European Union
  • 11: on Article 42 of the Treaty on European Union
  • 12: on the excessive deficit procedure
  • 13: on the convergence criteria
  • 14: on the Euro Group
  • 15: on certain provisions relating to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • 16: on certain provisions relating to Denmark
  • 17: on Denmark
  • 18: on France
  • 19: on the Schengen acquis integrated into the framework of the European Union
  • 20: on the application of certain aspects of Article 26 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union to the United Kingdom and to Ireland
  • 21: on the position of the United Kingdom and Ireland in respect of the area of freedom, security and justice
  • 22: on the position of Denmark
  • 23: on external relations of the Member States with regard to the crossing of external borders
  • 24: on asylum for nationals of Member States of the European Union
  • 25: on the exercise of shared competence
  • 26: on services of general interest
  • 27: on the internal market and competition
  • 28: on economic, social and territorial cohesion
  • 29: on the system of public broadcasting in the Member States
  • 30: on the application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union to Poland and to the United Kingdom
  • 31: concerning imports into the European Union of petroleum products refined in the Netherlands Antilles
  • 32: on the acquisition of property in Denmark
  • 33: concerning Article 157 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union
  • 34: on special arrangements for Greenland
  • 35: on Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution of Ireland
  • 36: on transitional provisions
  • 37: on the financial consequences of the expiry of the ECSC treaty and on the Research fund for Coal and Steel
Annexes[5]
Declarations[6]

There are 65 declarations attached to the EU treaties. As examples, these include the following. Declaration 1 affirms that the charter, gaining legal force, reaffirms rights under the European Convention and does not allow the EU to act beyond its conferred competencies. Declaration 4 allocates an extra MEP to Italy. Declaration 7 outlines Council voting procedures to become active after 2014. Declaration 17 asserts the primacy of EU law. Declaration 27 reasserts that holding a legal personality does not entitle the EU to act beyond its competencies. Declaration 43 allows Mayotte to change to the status of outermost region.

Euratom

As well as the two main treaties, their protocols and the Charter of Fundamental Rights; the Treaty Establishing a European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) is still in force as a separate treaty.

Title one outlines the tasks of Euratom. Title two contains the core of the treaty on how cooperation in the field is to take place. Title three outlines institutional provisions and has largely been subsumed by the European Union treaties. Title four is on financial provisions and title five on the general and title six is on final provisions.[7]

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