The main purpose of the EU is to integrate the European countries gradually and create a common market based on the four freedoms (free movement of goods, people, capital and services). EU countries have therefore waived a part of their sovereignty (right to rule) and given EU departments the authority to adopt legislation (regulations, directions and decisions) that takes precedence over national law.
Access to rights within the EU
EU law contains not only the rights and obligations of member nations, but also a series of rules which apply to private individuals and companies. Judicial authorities in the member states ensure that these rules are implemented and applied correctly. You have the right to expect that the EU countries’ authorities apply your rights correctly and in accordance with EU law. If you believe that an EU country is violating a law or a principle of EU law, you can report it to the EU Commission. It can be a regulation (laws and other statutes) or practice in any area. You do not need to prove that you have a legitimate interest in order to act; neither do you need to prove that you are directly affected by the infringement you are reporting. In order for the Commission to take up your complaint, it must involve a breach of EU law that a member country has committed. Therefore, it cannot apply to a private dispute.
The European Union’s court is also called the EU court and should not be mixed-up with the European Court of Human Rights. The EU court has two main assignments: to adjudicate disputes between member states and EU’s departments as well as to interpret the union’s laws. Thus, the court exercises the European Union’s judicial power and ensures, in cooperation with national courts, that EU laws are correctly applied and interpreted uniformly. The court consists of one judge from each member state who is assisted by eight Advocates-General. The EU court has its seat in Luxembourg and consists of three courts: the Court of Justice, Civil Service Tribunal and the General court which relieve s the court of certain tasks. Individual persons or companies can only turn to the EU court if the EU’s institutions have made a decision which directly affects them and shall then turn to the tribunal. If you would like to read more, please click on the following link: http://ec.europa.eu/eu_law/introduction/treaty_en.htm
The European Court of Human Rights
The European Court of Human Rights should not be mixed up with the European Union’s court. “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”
- Right to a fair trial
- No punishment without law
- Right to protection for private and family life
- Freedom of speech
Since 1950, the European Court, formally known as the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), assesses uncertainties and disputes about alleged violations of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). However, the Court is not an appellate of national courts and authorities and cannot, therefore, overturn a judgment or decision which has been made by a national authority or court. A private citizen can make a complaint about how a national court or authority handled a case in violation of human rights. The European Court cannot change a conviction, but if one is proved right in the European Court, the state will be reprimanded and there may be a case for damages. The European Court consists of one judge from each member nation in the Council of Europe, which is appointed by the Consultative Assembly of the institution. Its seat is in the French city of Strasbourg.