Directive (EU)

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In European law are directives ( directives by the English name directive , general language and EU directives ) acts of the European Union and as such part of secondary Union law . In contrast to ordinances , they do not apply directly under Art. 288 (3) TFEU , but must first be converted into national law by the member states.

Directives, which are legislative acts, are usually adopted jointly by the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament on a proposal from the European Commission in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure . In certain cases, however, special legislative procedures are foreseen.

The directives are numbered, which consists of the word directive, the year, a serial number and the designation "EU". From 2015, the “EU” designation will be placed in brackets in front of the year (e.g. Directive 2010/75 / EU for directives before 2015 and Directive (EU) 2016/943 for directives from 2015). Older directives from the time of the European Community or the European Economic Community continue to bear the corresponding EC or EEC marking; they are also referred to as EC directives or EEC directives . The year can be found here in two-digit form, such as B. Directive 93/42 / EEC for the Medical Devices Directive of 1993.

Legal effect

In contrast to EU regulations , EU directives are not immediately effective and binding, but must be implemented through national legal acts in order to become effective. It is up to the individual Member States how they implement the directives. So you have a certain amount of leeway in implementing the directive. However, if the directive requires the introduction of specific authorizations or obligations, the national law that serves to implement them must justify specific authorizations or obligations. According to German law, a formal law or ordinance is therefore usually required for implementation . Directives regularly set a deadline within which they must be transposed into national law. With implementation, the content of the directive becomes part of the national legal system and therefore applies to everyone who is affected by the implementation act (e.g. a law).

If a guideline is not implemented in a timely manner or not properly, it can still have immediate effect and be applied by the authorities. For this purpose, the content of the guideline provision must be so precise and concrete that it is suitable for immediate application and it must not contain any direct obligation for an individual. Direct effect of directives among private individuals (horizontal direct effect) is therefore not possible. If an individual suffers a disadvantage as a result of the lack of or inadequate implementation after the implementation period has expired, he may, under certain circumstances, claim against the Member State for damages under state liability . According to the judicature of the European Court of Justice - in particular according to the principles formulated in the Francovich decision of November 19, 1991 (C-6/90 and C-9/90) - the citizen should not suffer any harm from non-implementation of the directive .

Even before the implementation period has expired, however, directives have legal effects insofar as the national legal norms are to be interpreted as an " interpretation in conformity with European law ", as far as possible, taking into account the provisions of the directive in order to avoid collisions between European law provisions and domestic law (see conflict of law rules ).

Implementation through administrative regulations

The directives must be implemented in national law in such a way that any rights established thereby are recognizable for the individual and can assert them. The ECJ said no reason that these requirements by implementing a directive in the Clean Air Act , were satisfied although this is a standard Detailed administrative regulation represents. Rather, legal norms in the material sense are required. On the other hand, it is permissible to refer to an EU directive in German regulations and to declare its text to be valid in the Federal Republic of Germany. Example: The Hazardous Substances Ordinance (GefStoffV), in which reference is made to Directive 67/548 / EEC and in which, in particular, the list of substances in Annex I in the current version is declared binding, without any changes to the GefStoffV requirement.

Compensation for damages not implemented in time

In the event that guidelines are not implemented on time, a country can make itself liable for damages.

Directive 90/314 / EEC of June 13, 1990 stipulated that the member states must take measures by December 31, 1992 at the latest to ensure that package travelers are insured against the bankruptcy of their tour operator. The Ministry of Justice in the Kohl IV cabinet under Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger failed to implement it on time, which was not yet noticed in 1993. In the spring and summer of 1994, however, there were numerous German tourists stranded abroad because their tour operators went bankrupt before they had forwarded the money for the return flight to the airline. As a result, a law was hastily drawn up, with which § 651k (now § 651r ) was inserted into the BGB. This obliges tour operators to protect themselves against their own bankruptcy and to hand over a security certificate to the traveler .

In response to a corresponding lawsuit before the Bonn Regional Court, the latter suspended the proceedings and submitted the case to the ECJ . The latter decided in 1996 that the Federal Republic of Germany must compensate those travelers who had suffered damage as a result of not implementing the directive in time. In response to a small request from the Greens, the federal government announced on November 13, 1996 that it estimated the damage to be compensated at DM 20 million.

New Approach Directives

The new concept provides that the guidelines for certain products define basic safety and health requirements at a high level of protection. The technical details for concretising these basic requirements are developed by the European standardization organizations CEN , CENELEC and ETSI in the form of European standards .

The aim of the new concept is, among other things:

  • Removal of technical barriers to trade through the European harmonization of technical standards
  • Guidelines only define basic (safety) goals, these are binding; technical details are referenced by so-called harmonized European standards (application voluntary, but with presumption of conformity)
  • Relief for the state (not civil servants, but technical experts work out the technical details with the standards)
  • Always up-to-date detailed regulations, as standards are updated at regular intervals and reflect the state of the art.

So far, 26 European Directives have been adopted according to the New Concept, which require European standards to be fulfilled. 22 of them provide for CE marking , four of which do not provide for CE marking.


Before the Lisbon Treaty , directives were only issued by the European Communities under the 1st pillar . Even if EU directives were often mentioned, this formulation was not legally correct, as these directives (but also EC regulations) were issued by one of the European Communities and not by the European Union. The German-language title of these earlier directives begins with “Directive NNNN / NN / EG” (or a reference to the respective community). For the directives issued since the Treaty of Lisbon, the title begins with “Directive NNNN / NN / EU” or “Directive NNNN / NN / EURATOM”. Since 2015 the names have started with "Directive (EU) YYYY / NN".

Examples of guidelines issued

Framework guidelines

Specific guidelines

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ↑ Council Directive 90/314 / EEC of June 13, 1990 on package travel
  2. ECJ, October 8, 1996 - C-178/94
  3. BT-Drs. 13/6081
  4. Harmonization of the numbering of EU legal acts. In: EUR-Lex . Retrieved April 12, 2020 .