Application of EU law - European Commission

Navigation path

Additional tools

  • Print version
  • Decrease text
  • Increase text

Directives - definitions

What is a directive?

EU directives lay down certain end results that must be achieved in every Member State. National authorities have to adapt their laws to meet these goals, but are free to decide how to do so. Directives may concern one or more EU countries, or all of them.

Each directive specifies the date by which the national laws must be adapted - giving national authorities the room for manoeuvre within the deadlines necessary to take account of differing national situations.

Directives are used to bring different national laws into line with each other, and are particularly common in matters that affect the operation of the single market (e.g. product safety standards).

What are "national implementing measures"?

These are texts officially adopted by the authorities in a Member State to incorporate the provisions in a directive into national law.

All such texts sent to us by national authorities are scrutinised to ensure that they will actually implement in that Member State all the measures required in the directive.