General Principles of Law

General Principles of Law in Europe

Content about General Principles Of Law from the publication “The ABC of European Union law” (2010, European Union) by Klaus-Dieter Borchardt.

The unwritten sources of Union law are the general principles of law. These are rules reflecting the elementary concepts of law and justice that must be respected by any legal system. Written Union law for the most part deals only with economic and social matters, and is only to a limited extent capable of laying down rules of this kind, which means that the general principles of law form one of the most important sources of law in the Union. They allow gaps to be filled and questions of the interpretation of existing law to be settled in the fairest way.

Context of General Principles Of Law in the European Union

These principles are given effect when the law is applied, particularly in the judgments of the Court of Justice, which is responsible for ensuring that ‘in the interpretation and application of this Treaty the law is observed’. The main points of reference for determining the general principles of law are the principles common to the legal orders of the Member States. They provide the background against which the EU rules needed for solving a problem can be developed.

More about General Principles Of Law in the European Union

Alongside the principles of autonomy, direct applicability and the primacy of Union law, other legal principles include the guarantee of basic rights, the principle of proportionality, the protection of legitimate expectations, the right to a proper hearing and the principle that the Member States are liable for infringements of Union law.


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