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Fundamentals of European Law

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The United Kingdom, as a member of the European Union is bound by the provisions of the current Treaties as well as any future Treaties. Section 2 of the European Communities Act 1972 provides that ‘all such rights powers liabilities obligations and restrictions… created by or arising under the Treaties … shall be recognized and available in law, and shall be enforced, allowed and followed accordingly.’2 This is the context in which Melinda’s rights fall to be determined.Melinda’s case involves the interpretation and application of secondary legislation as her rights are directly connected to the validity of a directive issued by the Council of the European Union. Although directives require enactment by the legislators of individual Member States, they are binding on all members.3Article 249 (formerly Article 189) of the Treaty of Rome 1957 makes provision for directives to be binding on ‘each state to which it is addressed.’4 Although the United Kingdom is at liberty to use its own discretion as to how to implement the directive issued by the European Union on patio heater specifications, it has an existing duty under the current law to implement the directive. That fact that the directive is contrary to unfair competition policies in the United Kingdom and compromises existing local directives on the same device does not make the directive by the European Union any less applicable.In Van Gend en Loos v Nederlandse Administratie der Belastingen, the European Court held that the European Community represents a ‘new legal order’ which binds its members. Moreover, in the event a law issued by the European Community contradicts a domestic provision, the European Community’s law will prevail.5In Publico Ministero v Ratti [1979] ECR it was held that by virtue of Article 189 of the Treaty of Rome, regulations are capable of having the force of law in each Member State if they contain language indicating that the regulationis ‘unconditional and sufficiently precise.’