Part I European Law: Creation

3. Union Competences  


1.    Union Competences: Teleological Interpretation
2.    General Competences of the Union
3.    The Doctrine of Implied (External) Powers
4.    Categories of Union Competences



When the British Parliament legislates, it need not “justify” its acts. It is traditionally considered to enjoy a competence to do all things. This “omnipotence” is seen as inherent in the idea of a sovereign parliament in a “sovereign state”. The European Union is neither “sovereign” nor a “state”. Its powers are not inherent powers. They must be conferred by its foundational charter: the European Treaties. This constitutional principle is called the “principle of conferral”. The Treaty on European Union defines it as follows:

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. Competences not conferred upon the Union in the Treaties remain with the Member States.

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