European Union law is a system of rules operating within the Member States of the European Union (Union), some of them are applied also by national Courts. Since the founding of the European Coal and Steel Community following World War II, the Union has developed the aim to “promote peace, its values and the well-being of its peoples”. The Union has political institutions, social and economic policies which transcend Member States for the purpose of cooperation and human development. According to its Court of Justice the Union represents “a new legal order of international law”.
The Union’s legal foundations are the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, currently unanimously agreed on by the governments of all the Member States. New States may join if they agree to follow the rules of the Union, and, unlike other Federation of States, existing Member States may peacefully leave.
In several fields, EU Member States legislations are today even more integrated than those of Federal States in the USA.
Citizens are entitled to participate through the Parliament and their respective State governments through the Council in shaping the EU legislation.
The Commission has the right to propose new laws (the right of initiative) and ensures the application of the Union rules, the Council of the European Union represents the elected Member State governments, the Parliament is elected by European citizens and, finally, the Court of Justice is meant to uphold the rule of law and human rights.
As the Court of Justice has said, the EU is “not merely an economic union” but is intended to “ensure social progress and seek the constant improvement of the living and working conditions of their peoples”.