European Integration Law

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European Integration Law

European integration law studies the laws enacted by the European Union (EU). The EU is an economic and political union of Member States collaborating more and more closely in the fields of economics, foreign policy as well as law enforcement and the judiciary. The collaboration has been strongest in the economic sphere where, since the 1950s, the Member States have endeavured to integrate their national markets in order to establish a single common market. This aspect of collaboration is supra-national, and laws adopted by the EU constitute an integral part of each Member State’s internal legal system.

The aim of the common market is to ensure the free movement of goods, workers, services and capital throughout the EU. This means that national rules constituting an obstacle to international commerce within the EU shall be abolished, and that the EU shall pursue a common trading policy in relation to non-EU countries. Thus undertakings and employees of the Member States are entitled to offer their goods, services or labour throughout the EU to essentially the same extent as in their home markets. In pursuit of these aims some fundamental rules governing freedom of movement have been stipulated in the Treaty Establishing the European Economic Community (Articles 28, 39, 43, 49 and 56). In addition, various other common legislative documents have been adopted, regulating conditions of trade. The fundamental principle on which Community law is based is the principle of non-discrimination, which means that goods, services and workers shall be treated alike irrespective of the Member State from which they come. To the extent that the EU has not adopted common trade rules, individual undertakings and workers may directly invoke their right to establishment in another Member State pursuant to the Treaty. Since the European Market has not been wholly integrated yet, there are still differences between the Member States on issues such as alcohol policies, consumer protection and the environment. In such areas each Member State enjoys a certain leeway to adopt its own rules to protect such interests, and may therefore ban goods and services coming from another Member State. The free movement of capital is regulated within the framework of the European Monetary Union (EMU) and the common currency euro. Sweden participates in the work of the EMU, but the national referendum held in September 2003 resulted in the rejection of the euro as a currency in Sweden for the time being. In addition to rules governing freedom of movement, the EU has harmonised the field of competition law, agriculture and transport law within the framework of the Common Market.

As appeared above, the EU has the authority to pass legislation binding on both the Member States and the individual nationals of those states. The Union has gained this authority by means of the Member States having ceded various spheres of their sovereignty to the EU. The EU is composed of five central institutions: the European Council, the European Parliament, the European Commission, the European Court of Justice(EU Court) and the European Court of Auditors. The legislative organ of the EU is the European Council which represents the Member States, and the European Parliament which represents the citizens of the EU. In a growing number of areas the EU may adopt legislation by means of qualified (two-thirds) majority, which means that individual Member States cannot stop the adoption of such legislation. The Commission also plays an important role in the legislative process, being the only organ that may submit proposals for new laws. The general function of the Commission is to safeguard the EU’s interests, and its overall role is therefore supervisory.

The EU Court interprets and implements EU treaties, and secondary legislation. The greater part of the EU law is implemented and administered by the Member States, and the EU law issues are therefore often determined in the Member States. The national courts must request a preliminary ruling from the EU if there are any ambiguities regarding how EU law is to be applied. To ensure effective and uniform implementation of the EU law the EU Court has through its preliminary rulings, established various principles governing implementation of the EU law in the Member States. These include the principles of direct effect and primacy. Member States, including their public authorities and courts, must apply the EU  law loyally, ensuring that the legislation has the intended effect on the internal legal system of the Member States.


Jaan Paju
Director of Doctoral Studies
Phone: 08-16 32 07

Teresa Simon Almendal
Vice Dean / Chairman of the Research Committee
Phone: 08-16 23 67

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