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Cover International Law

5. Soft Law in International Law-Making  

Alan Boyle

From a law-making perspective the term ’soft lawʼ is in most cases simply a convenient description for a variety of non-legally binding instruments used in contemporary international relations by States and international organizations. Soft law in this sense can be contrasted with hard law, which is always binding. Non-binding soft law instruments are not law per se, but may be evidence of existing law, or formative of the opinio juris or State practice that generates new customary law. They may additionally acquire binding legal character as elements of a treaty-based regulatory regime, or constitute a subsequent agreement between the parties regarding interpretation of a treaty or application of its provisions. Other non-binding soft-law instruments are significant mainly because they are the first step in a process eventually leading to conclusion of a multilateral treaty, or because they provide the detailed rules and technical standards required for the implementation of a treaty. An alternative view of soft law focuses on the contrast between ’rulesʼ, involving clear and reasonably specific commitments which are in this sense hard law, and ’normsʼ or ’principlesʼ, which, being more open-textured or general in their content and wording, can thus be seen as soft even when contained in a binding treaty. It is a fallacy to dismiss soft law because it does not readily fit a theory of what is ‘law’: properly understood, it can and does contribute to the corpus of international law-making.

Chapter

Cover International Law

13. The Relationship between International and National Law  

Eileen Denza

This chapter examines the relationship between international and national law. It discusses the approach of international courts and tribunals; the approach of national parliaments and national courts; and some problems that arise in national courts. While prospects for a harmonized approach to the relationship between international and national law are dim, conflict can be avoided through the close involvement of international lawyers in the treaty-making and ratification process; attention at the time of ratification to implementation questions; the teaching of international law as part of the professional training of judges; and expert assistance to national courts when international law questions arise.

Book

Cover EU Law

Paul Craig and Gráinne de Búrca

All books in this flagship series contain carefully selected substantial extracts from key cases, legislation, and academic debate, providing students with a stand-alone resource. The seventh edition of EU Law: Text, Cases, and Materials provides clear analysis of all aspects of European law in the post Lisbon era. This edition looks in detail at the way in which the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty have worked since the Treaty became operational, especially innovations such as the hierarchy of norms, the different types of competence, and the legally binding Charter of Rights. The coming into effect of the new Treaty was overshadowed by the financial crisis, which has occupied a considerable part of the EU’s time since 2009. The EU has also had to cope with the refugee crisis, the pandemic crisis, the rule of law crisis and the Brexit crisis. There has nonetheless been considerable legislative activity in other areas, and the EU courts have given important decisions across the spectrum of EU law. The seventh edition has incorporated the changes in all these areas. The book covers all topics relating to the institutional and constitutional dimensions of the EU. In relation to EU substantive law there is detailed treatment of the four freedoms, the single market, competition, equal treatment, citizenship, state aid, and the area of freedom, security and justice. Brexit is the rationale for the decision to have a separate UK version of the book. There is no difference in the chapters between the two versions, insofar as the explication of the EU law is concerned. The difference resides in the fact that in the UK version there is an extra short section at the end of each chapter explaining how, for example, direct effect, supremacy or free movement are relevant in post-Brexit UK. Law students in the UK need to know this, law students in the EU and elsewhere do not.

Book

Cover EU Law

Paul Craig and Gráinne de Búrca

All books in this flagship series contain carefully selected substantial extracts from key cases, legislation, and academic debate, providing students with a stand-alone resource. The seventh edition of EU Law: Text, Cases, and Materials provides clear analysis of all aspects of European law in the post Lisbon era. This edition looks in detail at the way in which the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty have worked since the Treaty became operational, especially innovations such as the hierarchy of norms, the different types of competence, and the legally binding Charter of Rights. The coming into effect of the new Treaty was overshadowed by the financial crisis, which has occupied a considerable part of the EU’s time since 2009. The EU has also had to cope with the refugee crisis, the pandemic crisis, the rule of law crisis and the Brexit crisis. There has nonetheless been considerable legislative activity in other areas, and the EU courts have given important decisions across the spectrum of EU law. The seventh edition has incorporated the changes in all these areas. The book covers all topics relating to the institutional and constitutional dimensions of the EU. In relation to EU substantive law there is detailed treatment of the four freedoms, the single market, competition, equal treatment, citizenship, state aid, and the area of freedom, security and justice. Brexit is the rationale for the decision to have a separate UK version of the book. There is no difference in the chapters between the two versions, insofar as the explication of the EU law is concerned. The difference resides in the fact that in the UK version there is an extra short section at the end of each chapter explaining how, for example, direct effect, supremacy or free movement are relevant in post-Brexit UK. Law students in the UK need to know this, law students in the EU and elsewhere do not.

Chapter

Cover EU Law in the UK

3. Decision-making and democracy in the EU  

This chapter analyses what EU academics have termed the ‘democratic deficit’ in the EU. In EU law, the concept of the ‘democratic deficit’ is used to classify the EU as a system that may hold some of the qualities of a democratic government, but is lacking others. The chapter then investigates just how much ‘democracy’ exists in the EU decision-making processes. There are those who claim that the EU will never be democratic, and those who argue that the EU actually does not suffer from true shortcomings. The chapter evaluates both of those claims, and considers if recent big events in the EU — such as the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, and the so-called Eurozone financial crisis — impact upon the debate. It also looks at the nature of Brexit during the Withdrawal Agreement's transition period, as well as the future relationship between the UK and the EU.