The law of the European Community has been given shape by the European Court of Justice (ECJ), for instance, in the historical case of Van Gend en Loos in 1963, ECJ asserted its authority when it ruled that, “a new legal order of international law that limits states sovereign rights in limited fields as provided for by the European Community through the will of the member states articulated in the Rome Treaty” was constituted.
The dissimilarity between the European Community (EC) law and European Union Law is chiefly pegged on the structures of the treaties that shape the European Union (EU). The EC comprise one of the three pillars of the EU in charge of social and economic affairs, while the other two pillars were constituted by the Maastricht Treaty that caters for the security, defense and internal matters of the Unions. The enhancement of the EU Law has been subject to new developments with new principles used such as the principle of conferral, proportionality, the precautionary principle, and subsidiarity. [EU Law Blog, 2007]
It should be noted that the fundamental policies, the institutional composition, the powers of the Union, and the lawmaking modus operandi are given the needed legal muscle by Treaties that were and are created by the governmental representatives of the 27 members through the consensus rule. These treaties include some of the following: – Paris Treaty of 18 April 1951, Rome Treaty of 25 March1957, the Euratom Treaty (Rome Treaty) of 1957, the merger Treaty of 1965, the Maastricht Treaty (Treaty of European Union) of February 1992, the Treaty of Nice of 2001, the treaty of Accession 2003 & 2005 among many others. [EUR-Lex: Treaties, 2007]
The political institutions i.e. parliament, council, and commission are sanctioned by treaties to oversee the legislation of matters that pertains the EU jurisdictions, such as recommendations, resolutions, policies, views, inter-institutional agreements, and orders. [Art. 2 TEC, 2008] All EU legislation must be pegged to a specific Treaty item and hence they are referred to as the “legal basis” of the legislation.
The operation of the EC is purely guided by the authority granted by a system of strong treaties that continue to be constantly reviewed in order to remain relevant to changes and also to suit members’ varied interests. Since it s formation a lot of changes has been effected in order to control the power vested on the institutions and to create autonomy and dominance of some institutions over the others. Initially before the merging of the three bodies that preceded the formation of European Community, the parliament which was then known as Common Assembly was the supreme body supposed to be elected by the member states. However, the Maastricht Treaty gave more to the European Council by making it the top body with immense power to control the other two pillars of the community which were based on intergovernmental philosophies. [Craig and de Burca, 2007] The five major institutions with their powers are discussed below in deep detail.