EU Competence

In EU law, competence refers to the legal authority or jurisdiction that the EU has in specific policy areas. Competence determines which level of government, whether it is the EU as a whole or individual member states, can make decisions and enact laws in various policy domains. The distribution of competence is a fundamental aspect of how the EU functions, and it is outlined in the EU Treaties, most notably the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).

Exclusive competence: In areas of exclusive competence, only the EU has the authority to make decisions and enact legislation. Member states have transferred their sovereignty in these areas to the EU. Examples of exclusive competence areas include customs union, trade policy with non-EU countries, and the euro currency.

Shared competence: In shared competence areas, both the EU and member states have the authority to make laws and decisions. However, if there is a conflict between EU law and national law, EU law takes precedence. This shared competence is designed to promote uniformity and consistency in certain policy areas across the EU. Examples of shared competence areas include environmental policy, consumer protection, and the internal market.

Supporting competence: Supporting competence areas are those where the EU can take action to support, coordinate, or supplement the actions of member states, but it can only do so if the member states grant it this authority. In these areas, the EU's role is more limited, and it acts as a facilitator or coordinator rather than as the primary decision-maker. Examples of supporting competence areas include public health, tourism, and industry.

The distribution of competencies is outlined in the EU treaties and can evolve over time through treaty amendments or changes in the legal framework. The principle of subsidiarity is also essential in EU competence; it means that decisions should be made at the level of government closest to the citizens, unless there is a clear advantage in handling the issue at the EU level.
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