European Union Law
The EU acquis is a set of legal rules regulating the organisation and functioning of the EU, relations among the Member States and the EU, and a wide range of relations within the EU. In order for the Republic of Slovenia to be able to comply with the rules as a Member State, its Constitution had to be amended. Article 3a thereof provides that the legal acts and decisions adopted within the international organisations to which Slovenia has transferred the exercise of part of its sovereign rights (hence also the EU) shall be applied in Slovenia in accordance with the legal system of these organisations.
At the top of the hierarchy of EU acts are the founding and accession treaties, which contain the fundamental principles, primary objectives, organisational structure, and modalities of the functioning of the EU. We usually recognise them under the term primary legislation. Primary legislation also encompasses the amendments of the treaties that ensure the more efficient and more transparent functioning of the EU, enable the accession of new Member States, and regulate new areas of cooperation.
Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union
In accordance with the Lisbon Treaty, which entered into force on 1 December 2009, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union was recognised a rank equivalent to that of treaties. Although the Charter is based on the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and other European and international instruments, it is of utmost importance for the EU and innovative from various points of view, since it includes, inter alia, disability, age and sexual orientation as prohibited grounds for discrimination; in addition, its fundamental rights include access to documents, data protection and good governance. The majority of the rights recognised by the Charter are granted to everyone, irrespective of ethnicity or status, while the Charter’s applicability is restricted to the EU institutions and bodies and to the Member States when implementing EU legislation.
Secondary legislation constitutes legal acts adopted by EU institutions for the purpose of exercising the competences of the EU. These include regulations, directives, decisions, recommendations and opinions. The only exception is the common foreign, safety and defence policy, which continues to be decided on in intergovernmental procedures. General guidelines and conclusions are adopted in this field. However, there are a number of other acts, such as recommendations, communications and acts related to the organisation and functioning of the institutions and Member States under international agreements, which are concluded between the EU and non-Member States or international organisations in various fields, or acts concluded jointly by the Member States and the EU in the fields of shared responsibility. Their designation, structure and legal effects arise from individual provisions of treaties or legal acts issued on the basis of the treaties.
Application and implementation of the acquis
The European Commission supervises whether Slovenia and other Member States properly implement the acquis at the national level. As the guardian of the treaties, it may launch an infringement procedure. The procedure follows a number of steps laid out in the EU treaties, each ending with a formal decision. It effectively promotes cooperation among Member States and the European Commission, as well as reduces the caseload of the Court of Justice of the European Union.
In Slovenia, the preparation of responses to the European Commission's letters of formal notice and reasoned opinions in such procedure is coordinated by the Government Office for Legislation, which also ensures that responses adopted by the Government are sent to the European Commission in a timely manner. The ministry responsible for the matter in question is to draft a response, regarding which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Government Office for Legislation should give their opinion. If Slovenia still fails to adopt appropriate measures to rectify the suspected infringement of EU law during the pre-litigation proceedings, the European Commission may refer the matter to the Court of Justice of the European Union, which may issue a declaratory judgment or, in certain cases, impose a fine or lump sum payment.
The key documents regarding the EU Commission’s policy for improving monitoring of the implementation of EU law, strengthening partnerships, and resolving problems, improving the management of infringement cases and increasing transparency, are as follows: