The Commission must ensure that EU law is applied in all EU countries, and may take legal action to enforce it if necessary.
EU law is divided into 'primary' and 'secondary' legislation. The treaties (primary legislation) are the basis for all EU action. Secondary legislation (which includes regulations, directives and decisions) is derived from the principles and objectives set out in the treaties.
Regulations and decisions are directly applicable; EU directives by contrast merely state a desired result, and leave EU countries to decide how to bring that result about through national law by a specified deadline.
While individual EU governments are responsible for applying EU law within their own countries, the Commission monitors that this is correctly done.
Therefore, the Commission may take action if any EU country:
The first step is to contact the national authorities. If no appropriate solution is found, the Commission can:
The Commission also has to ensure fair conditions of competition between EU businesses – checking that any financial assistance given to businesses by national governments complies with EU State aid rules.
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