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Focus on European legislative acts Differences between Directive and Regulation

September 26, 2018

The European Regulation

A regulation shall have general application. It shall be binding in its entirety and directly applicable in all Member States (art. 288§2 TFUE).

A European regulation is a binding legislative act which introduces a uniform regulation throughout the European countries. As soon as it is published in the Official Journal of the European Union, a regulation is directly applicable in all Member States of the European Union.

The European Directive

A directive shall be binding, as to the result to be achieved, upon each Member State to which it is addressed. However, it shall leave to the national authorities the choice of form and methods (art 288§3 TFUE).

A European Directive is a legislative act that sets out objectives to be achieved for all European countries (for example, in order to achieve the Single Market).

Unlike a European Regulation, a Directive is not directly applicable throughout the European territory. In order to be effective, each Member State of the European Union must transpose the Directive’s provisions into their national law. And this, by the deadline set out in the Directive. It is up to individual countries to devise their own laws on how to reach these goals – considering their national specificities.

Noteworthy: a Directive can be minimum or maximum harmonization.

A Directive is of minimum harmonization when it contains a minimum threshold of requirements to which Member States cannot derogate. Except by providing for stricter rules into national law.

A Directive is of maximum harmonization when Member States cannot provide for stricter rules into national law.

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