Community heritage – What it is, definition and concept

The acquis communautaire is the set of regulations and programs of the European Union. For a State to join the European Union, it must first accept the acquis communautaire.

Once a country accepts the acquis communautaire, it must include the European regulations in its national legislation. Thus, the European Union regulations will be in force and must be applied from the moment the country in question enters the European Union.

It should be noted that community law prevails over national laws. Furthermore, community law can establish obligations for the countries that make up the European Union and their citizens.

Founding treaties

In the first place, we find the founding treaties, such as the Constitutive Treaty of the CECA (European Confederation for Coal and Steel) of 1951 and the Treaty of Rome of 1957. The first of these treaties dealt with the creation of the CECA, which established competences with regard to coal and steel. On the other hand, the Treaty of Rome gave rise to the European Economic Community and the European Atomic Energy Community.

Other founding treaties have led to important changes in the European institutions, covering aspects such as their powers and operation. In this sense we find the Single European Act (1986), which promoted the political and economic union of Europe. The Maastricht Treaty (1992) also deepened the political, economic and monetary union, while laying the foundations for a common foreign and security policy. Precisely the Treaty of Amsterdam (1997), also founding, came to be a revision of the Maastricht Treaty, delving into areas such as free movement, foreign policy, European justice and labor aspects.

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No less important is the Treaty of Nice (2001). A treaty drawn up on the occasion of the incorporation of new States into the European Union and which, among other aspects, gave greater power to the European Parliament.

The Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (2004). This intended to replace the other founding treaties with a single text that would function as a European Constitution. However, its rejection in the plebiscites held in Holland and France caused the treaty not to enter into force.

Derivative law

Laws implemented to comply with European treaties are called secondary law. We can distinguish the following types of secondary law:

  • Regulations: They are implemented in all countries.
  • Directives: They set goals to be achieved by European countries. However, States will decide what means they use to achieve these objectives.
  • Decisions: They are mandatory for their recipients.
  • Opinions and recommendations: They are for guidance and not mandatory. They would be part of what is known as non-binding community law.

Other elements of the acquis communautaire

Laws implemented in application of European treaties are also included in the acquis communautaire, as well as the jurisprudence (reiterated doctrine) of the Courts of First Instance and Specialized.

However, as we pointed out earlier, the acquis communautaire is not limited to the legislation and doctrine of the courts, but is also formed by the international and security and internal policies carried out by the European Union.

Nor can we forget the declarations and resolutions of the European Council. They are not legislation, but simply express a position of the Council on any issue related to its powers.

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Finally, international law also has a place in the acquis communautaire, which is why international conventions signed by the European Union and those concluded between member countries are also included.

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