The founding of the European Union is a precedent in the history of the Old Continent. The nucleus of this influential international organization is the Treaty from 18th April 1951 forming the Economic Union between Belgium, Luxemburg, Holland, the Federal Republic of Germany, France and Italy. The original purpose of this union was the recovery of the states, which had participated in the war, so that a war between them would be economically impossible. The uniqueness of the European Union predetermines the organization of its legislative system as well as its correlation with the legislative systems of the member-states.
The underlying principle of the European Union law are the founding treaties of the three European Communities, founded in the 50s of the 20th century, more specifically, the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), The European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom). There are institutions and management bodies for all the three communities with the purpose of management and supervision unification – the Commission, the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union, the European Court of Justice, the Court Of Auditors, the European Economic and Social Committee.
An important step towards the development of the union is the Maastricht Treaty (1993), which resulted in a political, economic and monetary union with a common foreign and security policy and cooperation in justice and home affairs. However, this does not presuppose the disappearance of the EEC, the ECSC and EURATOM as international legal entities. The processes in Europe are settled by the EU law the law of the communities according to the regulated sphere. There is a marked tendency towards a unified judicial system.
The judicial system of the EU is a hybrid of the internal and the international judicial system. Thus constructed, it regulates relations not only between the member-states but also between the legal persons of the internal legislation, which are also subjects of the EU. This is made clear by the secondary legislation – the acts implemented by the EU institutions are explicit whether the addressees will be the countries or their physical and legal persons. The acts have different binding force. Regulations, directives and decisions are obligatory for the addressees, whereas the recommendations and opinions are not. Regulations have a binding force both on a EU level and national level. Decisions have a direct effect and therefore apply both to the member-states and their citizens and legal persons. Recommendations and opinions have to a large extent a political weight but lack an obligatory power.
The EU judicial system is developed with a view to the prospective alliance of all European countries as well as formation of an ever closer union between the member states. The European legislator’s progressive view finds expression in the correlation between the EU legislation and the national legislation of the member-states.
The extended rights of the EU in many fields and areas result from the transfer of sovereignty from the member states on the Union, by force of the respective accession treaties, which serves as a basis for effective integration.
In the sphere of the respective common trade policy the member states have almost completely transferred their national sovereignty, which under Article 113 of the European Community Treaty is within the competence of the EC, and the member sates cannot do their own trade nor conclude international commercial treaties with third parties without permission.
Transferring sovereignty has to do with the principle of supremacy of the EU law over the national legislation of the member-states. To a great extent this principle is based on the international legal principle that the international regulations and values have supremacy over the national ones. The Bulgarian MPs decided it was necessary to make some amendments to the Constitution in order to make it flexible for our EU membership. Of great importance is the amendment to article 22, paragraph 1 which allows foreign citizens and legal persons to acquire property rights of Bulgarian lands after January 1st 2007.
Another underlying principle which regulates the relations between the EU and the member-states is the principle of direct application, developed and formulated by the European Court of the Justice. Every regulation of the EC legal system has direct effect which immediately and directly gives physical and legal persons subjective rights, which shall be acknowledged and protected by their national courts.
The principle of direct application secures compliance with the legal regulation of the EC on a national level as well.
A regulation is the only legislative act whose direct application is universally accepted. Following its legal application, the European Court of Justice held that “it grants people rights which shall be protected by their national courts.” (Judgment of the Court, case 93/71, Leonesio, 1972).
A directive is a legislative act which requires another act so that it can be applied by a member-state. It is a common practice of the European Court of Justice to apply the directive directly to the citizens only if the Parliament of the respective member state has not done this.
A decision, which is addressed to a physical or legal person of a member-state, has direct application. The application of a decision, addressed to a member-state, is preceded by an internal legislative act.
The member-states’ mediation is connected to the subsidiarity principle, which regulates the management power between the EU and the member-states for decentralization of management in the EU. Examples of distribution of competences are the mutual cooperation in the social sphere, financial injections with projects and objectives to speed up the economic growth in other undeveloped regions, education and training of professionals in a particular sphere, when the particular country does not have such. However, this principle of the European legal system is not imperative.
The proportionality principle is connected to the subsidiarity principle but it is applied only when the activities to be undertaken have become an exclusive competence of the EU and is established to define the boundaries of this competence. The proportionality principle is applied when the regulations for the free movement of people and goods are observed.
This judicial system has been developing for some time now and therefore the process is not complete. The accession of new member-states to the EU changes not only the legislation of this country but also that of the EU because of the problems and issues that arise with each new membership. This topic will continue to be under debate, which applies more and more to Bulgaria whose EU membership will become a reality within a few days.