Wondering what distinguishes regulation and directive?
How are regulations and directives applied by EU member countries?
What are some examples?
Let’s find out!
What is a Regulation?
A Regulation law or legislative act that is binding upon those who are subject to its provisions.
In Europe, Regulation is applicable across the entire European countries.
In other words, the same legislative act will be applicable to France, Belgium, Germany or any other European country without the EU member state having to ratify the act into its domestic laws.
A Regulation is immediately applicable to all EU member states.
For example, the General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR is a Regulation applicable across the entire European Union.
The legislative content of GDPR must be applied by all EU member countries.
To comply with a Regulation such as GDPR, the EU member countries must adapt their domestic laws to comply with the obligations imposed by the Regulation.
Considering the Regulation has immediate effects, each EU member country must ensure their domestic laws do not conflict with the Regulation’s objective.
What’s also important about a Regulation is that each EU member state should apply the regulation in a consistent way.
As such, each country can look at the jurisprudence, case laws, doctrine and legal evolutions of one another to achieve a level of consistency.
What is a Directive?
A Directive is a legislative act setting out overall goals and objectives.
A Directive is not applicable directly to all European countries.
There is an additional formally that has to be respected.
Each European member country must ratify the Directive into its domestic laws.
It will be up to each individual EU country to adopt the necessary laws to achieve the goals set out in the Directive.
An example of a Directive is the Directive 95/46/EC setting out the data protection goals and objectives.
This Directive was replaced by GDPR on May 25, 2018, thus making data protection obligations directly applicable to all EU member states.
A Directive will typically provide for a process for its implementation by each of the EU member states.
Each European country will look at the objectives to be achieved and establishes the internal laws and mechanics to achieve that goal.
The member countries have the freedom to adopt domestic laws stricter than the objectives pursued by the Directive so long as they comply minimally with the Directive.
Considering that each country can apply a Directive in a slightly different manner, in some cases a Directive will not be applied the same way across the EU member countries.
You may have variations or differences in the interpretation of the objectives pursued by the Directive.
Differences between Regulations and Directives
Regulations are binding pieces of legislation.
As a result, EU member countries do not have any flexibility on how to implement it.
They need to implement it, period.
With Directives, each member country has room to implement the objectives of the Directive the way they see fit and at their own pace.
Frequently Asked Questions Regulation and Directives
What is the difference between a regulation and a directive?
In the context of European law, a regulation a piece of legislation that is binding and immediately applicable to all European member countries the same way and at the same time. A directive establishes an objective that is to be pursued by all European member countries through the individual implementation of domestic laws intended to achieve the purpose. Each member state can implement the directives into their national laws the way they consider most appropriate.
Are directives directly applicable?
No, Directives are not applicable directly. Each European Union member country must implement and transpose the objectives and requirements of the Directive into their national laws before a set timeline. Each EU member country will have the freedom to decide how they will implement the requirements of the Directive into their national laws provided they adopt the laws prior to the deadline prescribed by the Directive.
What is an example of a regulation?
A very good example of a Regulation in the context of European law is the General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR. On May 25, 2018, the European Union adopted GDPR as its data protection regulation. On that date, the regulation took legal effect into all the EU member countries who are bound to observe the obligations of GDPR.