The Council of Ministers – III part
As we have seen, the Council is a peculiar body within the European Union. In fact it has not an exclusively executive function, as in general it has in the single member states, but it also and especially has some legislative functions. In fact, the Council approves certain acts having the effectiveness of laws and that serve as regulations in the single Member States; the Council approves them by a proven system, that is the system of the European functionalism, which has been introduced many years ago and that is based on this couple Council-Commission, as I had already mentioned in one of my previous lessons. This means that the European Commission has the right to make some proposals, that is to say that the Council cannot decide independently, but it decides only on the basis of a Commission’s proposal. The Commission has an extra power with respect to the Council, since its proposal can be changed only unanimously by the Council, by a qualified majority voting and anyway the Commission has always the right to withdraw its proposal. So the Council cannot prevaricate over the functions of the Commission, a body whose aim is to safeguard the Union’s Treaties and to make its best in order to make the community follow the unification process that has been inspiring it from the beginning. The Council approves different types of acts. At the moment, the acts that can be adopted are: the directives, the recommendations, the decisions and the regulations. The directives are compulsory acts as far as concerns the aim to achieve, but that let the member states free to decide through which tools (a law, an administrative act or a decree) a certain directive must be applied. The regulation, instead, is an extremely detailed act and it is compulsory in all of its parts, immediately compulsory in the legal system of the member states. So you can easily guess how important and delicate it is to legiferate on certain fields, that is the fields that determine certain reactions from the public opinion. That’s the case of certain regulations that define some standards, for example the length of cucumbers, or the use of motor vehicles without causing damages to the environment. But obviously this legislation is necessary to co-ordinate the common market within the European Union. So, thanks to the unification of the way of dealing with certain subjects within the Union, it has been possible to implement this big common market. As far as the recommendation is concerned, we must say that the recommendation is not compulsory, but it imposes a moral obligation to Member States. Finally, we have the decisions that, on the contrary, concern only a single figure, a single company, a single person, a single group of persons but that have an immediate and compulsory value. Which are the innovations introduced by the constitution? The constitution has introduced a very fundamental innovation, since it has created a hierarchy of acts, as we have in our jurisdictional system. So we have the acts having a prime value, which is the community law, from which all the other subsequent acts derive. The law that is decided by the Council is then submitted to the Commission that must co-decide with the European Parliament. From this law all the other subsequent acts derive, which can be the regulations or the decisions. In this way we have established a clear hierarchy of the norms that engenders transparency within the communitarian system.
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