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EU LawText, Cases, and Materials

EU Law: Text, Cases, and Materials (7th edn)

Paul Craig and Gráinne de Búrca
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date: 22 September 2021

p. 1365. Instruments and the Hierarchy of Normslocked

p. 1365. Instruments and the Hierarchy of Normslocked

  • Paul CraigPaul CraigEmeritus Professor of English Law, St John's College, University of Oxford
  •  and Gráinne de BúrcaGráinne de BúrcaFlorence Ellinwood Allen Professor of Law, New York University School of Law


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. This chapter examines two related issues: the EU’s legal and non-legal instruments; and the hierarchy of norms. The EU has a number of legal and non-legal instruments that are used to attain Union objectives. The principal legal instruments are regulations, directives, and decisions. The hierarchy of norms refers to the idea that in a legal system there will be a vertical ordering of legal acts, with those in the lower rungs of the hierarchy being subject to legal acts of a higher status. There are currently five principal tiers to the hierarchy of norms in EU law, which are, in descending order: the constituent Treaties and Charter of Rights; general principles of law; legislative acts; delegated acts; and implementing acts. The chapter discusses the meaning of these different tiers. The UK version contains a further section analysing issues concerning the hierarchy of norms in relation to the UK post-Brexit.

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