EU law and its application

  • regulations and decisions become binding automatically throughout the EU on the date they enter into force
  • directives must be incorporated by EU countries into their national legislation

Types of EU law

EU countries implement

Regulations and decisions

National authorities must ensure they are correctly applied.


Each directive contains a deadline by which EU countries must incorporate its provisions into their national legislation and inform the Commission to that effect.

The Commission assists member countries in correctly implementing all EU laws. It provides online information, implementation plans, guidance documents and organises expert‑group meetings.

National implementing measures – how to find them on EUR-Lex

Commission monitors

The Commission is responsible for making sure that all EU countries properly apply EU law. In this role, the Commission is referred to as the ‘guardian of the treaties’.

The Commission will take steps if an EU country:

  • does not fully incorporate a directive into its national law by the set deadline
  • might not have applied EU law correctly

Monitoring implementation of EU directives

Better regulation: why and how

When countries fail to apply EU law

If national authorities fail to properly implement EU laws, the Commission will first work with the country concerned to try to find a solution.

If this is unsuccessful, the Commission may start formal infringement proceedings against the country in question. If the issue is still not settled, the Commission may eventually refer the case to the European Court of Justice.

Infringement procedure


If you feel that the national authorities in a given country have not respected your rights under EU law, you should take up the matter with the competent body in that EU country, such as an ombudsman or a local court.

You may also lodge a complaint with the Commission. Although it cannot offer individual redress, if the Commission finds your complaint justified, it will follow the matter up with the national authority.

Make a complaint