Direct applicability

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A provision of EU law is 'directly applicable' if it becomes part of the national law of member states without further administrative measures in the member states. The related concept of 'direct effect' indicates that certain provisions of EU law create rights and duties that can be relied on by individuals in national courts. 'Direct applicability' is an institutional concept: it concerns how law is incorporated. 'Direct effect' is a remedial concept: it has to do with whether the law can be enforced upon by individuals. The distinction between direct effect and direct applicability has come about in an evolutionary way, through the development of EU case law. In any event, it is now established that some provisions are directly effective but not directly applicable, some are directly applicable but not directly effective, and some are both directly effective and directly applicable.

That an EU Regulation has direct applicability is established by Art. 249 of the EC Treaty. This has usually been taken to mean that there is direct effect, as well as direct applicability, provided the provisions are sufficiently clear.

It is equally clear that EU Directives do not have direct applicability, as they require specific implementation in the member states. However, EU Directives may have direct effect, even if they are never implemented in the member states.

Although it is not specifically stated in the Treaties themselves, it is generally accepted that Treaty provisions are directly applicable in member states. The decision by the European Court of Justice in Van Gend en Loos (1963) demonstrated that many provisions of the EC Treaty are also directly effective. This includes those on the free movement of goods (Articles 25, 28 and 29), workers (Article 39), establishment (Article 43) and services (Article 49); competition law (Articles 81 and 82 EC); and sex equality (Article 141 EC).

See also direct effect.

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