Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union

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The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union ( TFEU or AEU Treaty ) is one of the founding treaties of the European Union (EU) alongside the Treaty on European Union (TEU or EU Treaty ). Together they form the primary legal basis of the EU's political system ; According to Art. 1 of the Treaty on the European Union, both contracts have equal legal status and are referred to collectively as "the contracts" . Sometimes these treaties are therefore also referred to as "European constitutional law ", but formally they are international treaties between the EU member states .

The AEU Treaty goes back to the 1957 Rome Treaty establishing the European Economic Community (EEC Treaty), which together with the EURATOM Treaty are known as the Treaty of Rome . However, the EEC Treaty has been amended several times since then, in particular by the Merger Treaty in 1965, the Single European Act 1986, the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, the Amsterdam Treaty in 1997, the Nice Treaty in 2001 and the Treaty of Lisbon in 2007. With the Treaty of Maastricht, the EEC Treaty was renamed the Treaty establishing the European Community (EC Treaty), its current name was given to the AEU Treaty with the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty on December 1, 2009. The renaming is due to the fact that with the Treaty Lisbon dissolved the European Community and all its functions were taken over by the EU.

While the EU and EC treaties previously referred to two different (albeit institutionally connected) organizations, today's FEU treaty only has a supplementary function and, according to its wording (Art. 1 (1) TFEU), specifies the EU treaty related. The EU treaty is kept quite short and mainly contains basic institutional provisions. The FEU Treaty, on the other hand, comprises 358 articles; In particular, it explains in more detail the functioning of the EU institutions and defines in a detailed normative framework in which areas the EU can act with which competencies. The planned amalgamation of the EU treaty and the AEU treaty to form the treaty establishing a constitution for Europe failed in 2005 because it was rejected in referendums in France and the Netherlands.

The FEU Treaty is drawn up in the 24 official languages ​​of the European Union and is legally binding in every language version.


The FEU Treaty consists of a preamble and 358 articles, which are grouped into seven parts, which in turn can consist of several titles, chapters and sections. The parts have the following names:

1st part
2nd part
3rd part
4th part
5th part
6th part
7th part
Principles (Articles 1-17)
Non-Discrimination and Citizenship (Articles 18-25)
The Union's internal policies and actions (Articles 26-197)
The association of overseas countries and territories (Articles 198-204)
The Union's external action (Articles 205–222)
Institutional and financial regulations (Articles 223–334)
General and final provisions (Articles 335–358)



The preamble to the AEU Treaty is essentially based on the EEC Treaty and therefore primarily contains declarations of intent on economic policy, such as “economic and social progress” or “improvement of living and employment conditions”. Well-known is the formulation of the aim of the treaty mentioned in the first place, "to create the basis for an ever closer union of the European peoples", which was adopted in a similar form in the EU treaty . It leaves the question of the finality of the European Union open, but indicates the goal of further integration.


Art. 1 TFEU ​​explains the function of the Treaty, namely to regulate the functioning of the European Union and to define “the areas, the delimitation and the details of the exercise of its competences”. The various forms of competences that the EU may have depending on the policy areaare thenexplained ( Art. 2 ): These differ in exclusive and shared competence. While only the EU can act in policy areas with exclusive competence, national states can also pass laws in policy areas with shared competence, as long as they do not contradict European regulations. The relationship between the EU and the member states in these areas corresponds to the relationship between the federal government and the federal states in the case of exclusive or competing legislation in Germany. In addition, other forms are mentioned in which the EU can become active: In economic and employment policy it assumes coordination functions, in foreign policy it develops and implements common policies of the member states. The EU also carries out supporting, coordinating or supplementary measures in certain other areas, but it cannot restrict the nation states' ability to enact their own laws.

Art. 3 , Art. 4 and Art. 6 TFEU ​​each list the policy areas in which the EU has exclusive, shared or supporting competence; Art. 5 TFEU ​​deals with the coordination of economic policy. This “competency catalog” modeled on Art. 72 and Art. 73 of the German Basic Law was only added by the Treaty of Lisbon in order to meet the demand for more transparency about the competences of the EU. However, the catalog is in some cases rather unspecific, in several cases the precise delimitation of competencies for a policy area is only regulated at a later point in the contract.

The rest of the first part identifies various cross-cutting tasks that the EU must take into account in all of its activities. These are the principle of coherence ( Art. 7 TFEU), gender equality ( Art. 8 TFEU), a high level of employment , the fight against social exclusion, a high level of education and health protection ( Art. 9 TFEU), and the fight against discrimination based on gender, race, ethnic Origin, religion, belief, disability, age or sexual orientation ( Art. 10 TFEU), environmental protection ( Art. 11 TFEU), consumer protection ( Art. 12 TFEU), religious and cultural customs and regional heritage of the member states ( Art. 13 TFEU) , the functioning of the services of general economic interest ( Art. 14 TFEU), transparency ( Art. 15 TFEU), data protection ( Art. 16 TFEU) and respect for the legal status of churches and ideological communities in the member states ( Art. 17 TFEU ).

Non-Discrimination and Citizenship

The second part of the FEU Treaty contains certain rights that EU citizens have in addition to those listed in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights .

Art. 18 TFEU ​​prohibits discrimination based on citizenship in the application of the EU treaties; According to Art. 19 TFEU, the Council of the EU can unanimously adopt rulesin the approval procedure which prohibit discrimination on the grounds mentioned in Art. 10 TFEU. This article forms the basis of the European Union's gender equality policy .

Art. 20 et seq. TFEU establish the citizenship of the Union , which every citizen of an EU member state has in addition to his national citizenship , and list the civil rights associated with it.

The Union's internal policies and actions

The third part is the largest part of the FEU Treaty. In a total of 24 titles, it lists the various domestic policy areas in which the EU can act, specifying the goals, means and decision-making processes that can be used in each case. The AEU Treaty is much more detailed than national constitutions, for example, which are usually content with simple catalogs of competencies. This is due to the principle of limited individual power , according to which the EU needs an explicit basis in the treaty for each of its activities. In particular, the objectives of EU policy in the various areas listed in many titles are therefore to be understood as restrictions with which the member states limit the activities of the supranational bodies ( European Commission and European Parliament ) and gear them towards specific purposes. At the same time, however, the stated objectives also play an important role in the context of the European Court of Justice's effet utile case law , since the Court of Justice usually interprets the EU's competencies as being as far-reaching as necessary to achieve the objectives.

Title I of the third part ( Art. 26 and Art. 27 TFEU) defines the establishment of the European internal market in which the free movement of goods, people, services and capital is guaranteed. The free movement of goods is defined in more detail in Title II ( Art. 28 to Art. 37 TFEU), which deals with the European Customs Union and prohibits all tariff and non-tariff trade barriers . Title III ( Art. 38 to Art. 44 TFEU) deals with the common agricultural policy and the common fisheries policy . Title IV ( Art. 45 to Art. 66 TFEU) deals with the free movement of workers ( Art. 45 ff. TFEU), the freedom of establishment ( Art. 49 ff. TFEU), the freedom to provide services ( Art. 56 ff. TFEU) and capital and freedom of payment ( Art. 63 ff. TFEU).

Title V of the third part ( Art. 67 to Art. 89 TFEU) contains the regulations on the area of ​​freedom, security and justice , which includes the areas of justice and home affairs, including asylum and migration policy and the fight against crime. The title is divided into five chapters. According to the general provisions on coordination and decision-making procedures ( Art. 67 ff. TFEU), policy in the field of border controls, asylum and immigration ( Art. 77 ff. TFEU), judicial cooperation in civil matters (JZZ, Art. 81 TFEU) , judicial cooperation in criminal matters (JZS, Art. 82 ff. TFEU) and police cooperation (PZ, Art. 87 ff. TFEU).

Title VI ( Art. 90 to Art. 100 TFEU) regulates EU transport policy . Title VII ( Art. 101 to Art. 118 TFEU) deals with the competition and tax policy of the European Union . This includes in particular the responsibilities in the areas of cartel prohibition and monopoly control ( Art. 101 ff. TFEU), the control of state aid ( Art. 107 ff. TFEU) as well as the prohibition of taxes that distort the domestic market ( Art. 110 ff. TFEU). In addition, Title VII contains the regulations according to which the EU can harmonize legal and administrative provisions of its member states in order to prevent distortions of the European internal market ( Art. 114 ff. TFEU). For certain reasons of occupational safety or environmental protection, the member states can maintain standards that differ from the EU regulations, but these must be approved by the European Commission .

Title VIII of the third part ( Art. 119 to Art. 144 TFEU) comprises the economic policy of the European Union and the regulations for the European Economic and Monetary Union . It is divided into five chapters: The first chapter on economic policy ( Art. 120 ff. TFEU) includes in particular the Stability and Growth Pact ( Art. 126 TFEU). Chapter 2 concerns monetary policy ( Art. 127 ff. TFEU) and defines the special powers of the European Central Bank . Chapter 3 ( Art. 134 f. TFEU) deals with the Economic and Financial Committee , an advisory body on questions of financial policy. Chapter 4 ( Art. 136 ff. TFEU) contains provisions on intensified cooperation between the Eurogroup , i.e. the states that use the euro as their currency. Finally, the fifth chapter ( Art. 139 ff. TFEU) contains so-called transitional provisions, in which rules are made for the member states that have not adopted the euro as their currency.

Title IX ( Art. 145 to Art. 150 TFEU) deals with the employment policy of the European Union , Title X ( Art. 151 to Art. 161 TFEU) deals with EU social policy . The EU's quite limited competences in this area are listed in Art. 153 TFEU, which also contains the respective forms of EU legislation in these areas. The European social dialogue is regulated in Art. 154 f TFEU. Title XI ( Art. 162 to Art. 164 TFEU) contains provisions on the European Social Fund .

The following, relatively short titles concern the education policy of the European Union including the promotion of youth exchanges and sport (Title XII, Art. 165 f. TFEU), the EU cultural policy (Title XIII, Art. 167 TFEU), the EU health policy ( Title XIV, Art. 168 TFEU), the EU consumer protection policy (Title XV, Art. 169 TFEU), the Trans-European Networks (Title XVI, Art. 170 to Art. 172 TFEU) and the EU industrial policy (Title XVII, Art. 173 TFEU). Title XVIII on economic, social and territorial cohesion ( Art. 174 to Art. 178 TFEU) deals with the regional policy of the European Union , in particular the European Regional Development Fund and the Cohesion Fund . Title XIX ( Art. 179 to Art. 190 TFEU) concerns the research policy of the European Union as well as the European space policy , Title XX ( Art. 191 to Art. 193 TFEU) contains the provisions on environmental policy of the European Union . This is followed by titles on EU energy policy (Title XXI, Art. 194 TFEU), the promotion of tourism (Title XXII, Art. 195 TFEU), civil protection (Title XXIII, Art. 196 TFEU) and administrative cooperation (Title XXIV, Art 197 TFEU).

The association of overseas territories

The fourth part of the FEU Treaty concerns the associated overseas territories of individual Member States . These associated areas, which are different islands belonging to France , the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of the Netherlands , are not part of the European Union but can be partially integrated into the European internal market. This should "primarily serve the interests of the inhabitants of these countries and sovereign territories and promote their prosperity" ( Art. 198 TFEU).

In this way, persons from the associated areas can participate in Europe-wide tenders under the same conditions as Union citizens ( Art. 199 No. 4 TFEU). The EU member states are not allowed to levy customs duties on imports from the associated areas, while the associated areas can in some cases maintain taxes in order to meet “the requirements of their development and industrialization” ( Art. 200 (3) TFEU). According to Art. 204 TFEU, the regulations on the associated areas are also applicable to Greenland , which belongs to Denmark and which left the EU in 1985 and regulated its relations with it via a special protocol.

The Union's external action

The fifth part of the FEU Treaty, which consists of seven titles, deals with certain external policy areas of the EU. It complements Title V of the EU Treaty , which lays down the general principles governing EU foreign policy. Title I of the fifth part, which consists only of Art. 205 TFEU, expressly refers to these general provisions in the EU Treaty. The division of the foreign policy regulations between the two treaties has historical reasons, since the common foreign and security policy was originally a policy area of ​​the EU that was separate from the EC. In detail, the EU treaty regulates all foreign policy areas in which the Council of the European Union decides unanimously and the European Commission and the European Parliament are largely uninvolved. In the FEU Treaty, however, the policy areas are named in which the Commission and Parliament have a say.

Title II of the fifth part ( Art. 206 f TFEU) deals with the common commercial policy , which is an exclusive competence of the EU and is largely exercised by the Commission. Title III ( Art. 208 to Art. 214 TFEU) comprises the development policy of the European Union . Title IV ( Art. 215 TFEU) concerns restrictive measures, i.e. economic sanctions against third countries. In principle, these must be resolved unanimously in accordance with the regulations specified in the EU Treaty , but their implementation in detail is carried out with a qualified majority in accordance with the procedure in the AEU Treaty.

Title V ( Art. 216 to Art. 219 TFEU) concerns international agreements which the EU can conclude and which are binding on both the EU institutions and all member states. These agreements are negotiated by the European Commission and adopted by the Council of the EU , with the Council deciding by a qualified majority or unanimously, depending on which voting procedure is otherwise provided for the policy area concerned. In most cases, the European Parliament must also approve the agreement.

Title VI ( Art. 220 f TFEU) regulates the EU's cooperation with international organizations such as the United Nations , the Council of Europe , the OSCE and the OECD . It also contains the basis for the European Union delegations to third countries. Title VII ( Art. 222 TFEU) finally contains the “solidarity clause”, according to which all Member States stand by each other in the event of a terrorist attack , a natural disaster or a man-made disaster . To this end, the EU mobilizes "all the means at its disposal, including the military means made available to it by the member states".

Institutional and financial regulations

The sixth part of the FEU Treaty is divided into three titles. It complements the institutional provisions contained in Title III of the EU Treaty and contains the rules on the EU budget .

Title I ( Art. 223 to Art. 309 TFEU) contains provisions on the organs of the EU and explains the EU legislative process . It is divided into four chapters: Chapter 1 first lists individual regulations on the organs that are directly linked to the corresponding general provisions in the EU Treaty . They concern the European Parliament ( Art. 223 to Art. 234 TFEU), the European Council ( Art. 235 f. TFEU), the Council of the EU ( Art. 237 to Art. 243 TFEU), the European Commission ( Art. 244 to Art. 250 TFEU), the Court of Justice of the European Union ( Art. 251 to Art. 281 TFEU), the European Central Bank ( Art. 282 to Art. 284 TFEU), the European Court of Auditors ( Art. 285 to Art. 287 TFEU) .

Chapter 2 then regulates EU legislation by defining EU legal acts ( regulations , directives , decisions , recommendations and opinions ) ( Art. 288 ff. TFEU). Art. 294 TFEU ​​describes the ordinary legislative procedure according to which most EU legal acts come about.

Chapter 3 contains the regulations on the European Economic and Social Committee ( Art. 301 ff. TFEU) and the Committee of the Regions ( Art. 305 ff. TFEU), which have no decision-making powers of their own and only act in an advisory capacity. Finally, Chapter 4 deals with the European Investment Bank ( Art. 308 et seq. TFEU).

Title II contains the provisions on the finances of the EU, in particular on the EU's own resources ( Art. 311 TFEU), the multiannual financial framework ( Art. 311 TFEU), and the annual budget of the EU, which is jointly adopted by the Council and Parliament ( Art. 313 ff. TFEU) and to combat corruption ( Art. 325 TFEU).

Title III explains the procedures for enhanced cooperation ( Art. 326 ff. TFEU).

General and final provisions

The final part of the TFEU treats various aspects such as the legal personality of the EU ( Art. 335 TFEU), the statute of EU officials ( Art. 336 TFEU) or the liability of the EU ( Art. 340 TFEU). Art. 341 and Art. 342 TFEU ​​stipulate that the seat of the EU institutions and the official languages ​​of the European Union are determined unanimously by the member states; they leave open a future revision of these questions even without a treaty change.

Art. 352 TFEU ​​contains a general clause for those cases in which an activity of the EU in the context of the policy areas mentioned in the treaty appears necessary to achieve the treaty objectives, but the treaty does not provide for any express powers for this. In these cases, the Council of the EU canunanimously issue the relevant regulationson the proposal of the European Commission and after approval of the European Parliament . The common foreign and security policy is excluded from this; In addition, the Member States must not align the law in this way in areas in which this is otherwise expressly excluded from the Treaties.

Art. 355 TFEU ​​specifies the scope of the EU treaties, for whichonly roughly all EU member states are listedin Art. 52 TEU. The FEU Treaty now names individual areas with a special legal status to which the EU treaties do not apply or only to a limited extent.

Art. 356 TFEU ​​defines the unlimited duration of the treaty, Art. 357 TFEU ​​defines the ratification procedure and entry into force. Finally, Art. 358 refers to Art. 55 TEU, in which the 24 official language versions of the contract are listed, and in this way again shows the "unbreakable unity between the two contracts".

Contract amendment procedure

As international treaties, the wording of the EU treaty and the AEU treaty can in principle be changed by amending treaties, which also have the status of international treaties. The last time this happened was the Treaty of Lisbon in 2007. While previous treaty reforms were worked out by an intergovernmental conference and then ratified individually by all member states, since the Treaty of Lisbon came into force, the EU Treaty itself has laid down special amendment procedures for how treaty reforms will take place in the future should ( Art. 48 TEU). A distinction is made between an ordinary amendment procedure and a simplified amendment procedure , the latter not necessarily requiring ratification by the national parliaments in special cases. However, a unanimous decision by the national governments is necessary in any case. A change in the EU treaties is therefore usually much more difficult to achieve than a change in national constitutions .

The ordinary amendment procedure can be initiated by the government of any member state, the European Parliament or the European Commission , which submits draft reforms to the European Council . The latter then decides on the establishment of a European Convention made up of representatives of the national parliaments, the national governments, the European Parliament and the Commission. This Convention then developed recommendations it adopts by consensus and an IGC submitted to the Member States. This then works out an amending treaty, which must then be ratified by all member states. In the case of only minor changes, the European Council can dispense with the establishment of a convention and determine the mandate for the Intergovernmental Conference itself. This would correspond to the usual procedure for previous changes to the contract.

The simplified amendment procedure is only possible for the third part of the FEU Treaty, which regulates the internal policy areas of the EU. Here the European Council itself can adopt a decision amending the treaty. It decides unanimously after hearing the European Parliament and the Commission and, if necessary, the European Central Bank , if currency issues are concerned. The decision must not include an extension of the EU's competences and will only come into force once it has been approved by all member states in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements. In many Member States, including Germany, such a decision is only possible with the consent of the national parliament.

Another simplified amendment procedure concerns the policy areas in which the Council of the European Union decides unanimously according to the text of the treaty. A unanimous decision by the European Council can lead to a majority procedure (so-called passerelle clause , Art. 48 (7) TEU). Exceptions are decisions in the military or defense policy area, certain points of the budget procedure, the general clause according to Art. 352 TFEU ​​and the suspension of EU membership according to Art. 7 TEU, where the principle of unanimity applies ( Art. 353 TFEU). Furthermore, in areas for which a special legislative procedure applies, the ordinary legislative procedure can be introduced by a unanimous decision of the European Council . In both cases, the European Parliament must approve the decision of the European Council. In addition, each national parliament has a six-month period to veto such a decision. In some member states, including Germany, the national parliament even has to expressly support the decision so that the government can vote in favor of it in the European Council.

Timeline of the European Treaties

in force
European Act
  Pix.gif Pix.gif Pix.gif Pix.gif Pix.gif Pix.gif Pix.gif Pix.gif
European Communities Three pillars of the European Union
European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM)
European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) Contract expired in 2002 European Union (EU)
    European Economic Community (EEC) European Community (EC)
      Justice and Home Affairs (JI)
  Police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters (PJZS)
European Political Cooperation (EPC) Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP)
Western Union (WU) Western European Union (WEU)    
dissolved on July 1, 2011


Art. 123 prohibits the European Central Bank from granting loans directly to individual countries. The finance ministries of the member states can therefore only obtain money on the capital market, especially from commercial banks, in return for issuing government bonds. The commercial banks, on the other hand, are allowed to use the purchased government bonds as collateral to obtain direct loans from the European Central Bank, so that they act as co-earning brokers of government financing.

The justification for the ban is that it would prevent inflation. Critics such as B. Sahra Wagenknecht , however, consider this argument to be historically untenable and see the article as a reason for the states to unnecessarily increase their debts. Here profits would be privatized while losses would be socialized.


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Geiger / Kahn / Kotzur, EUV / AEUV, Commentary, 5th Edition Munich 2010, Art. 358, Rn. 1
  2. ^ Wagenknecht, Sahra: Freedom instead of capitalism: About forgotten ideals, the euro crisis and our future, Frankfurt a. M. 2012, p. 31ff