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Question 5 - IRL


Question

I believe that there are a number of areas that the European Court of Justice (ECJ) can overrule the Irish Constitution. What are they? - Cormac

Answer

EU law has primacy over national law (EU law is supreme to national law).
This is also valid for laws which derive from the Irish Constitution.

 

The EU has a set of responsibilities it calls competences. There are exclusive competences where member states are not permitted to make there own laws within the areas. To see what they are see Article 3 (TFEU) below.

 

There are also shared competences. "A shared competence" would normally entail that two different decision-makers share the right to decide and make laws. When the EU and its member states share a competence, the Member State loses its 'competence' (power to take decisions) when the EU decides to regulate. To see what they are see Article 4 (TFEU) below.

 

There are also supporting measures where the Union coordinates and adopts supportive legislative acts. Here there is no harmonisation of law, however the laws provided by the EU still have primacy over national law. To see what they are see Article 6 (TFEU) below.

 

Here are the relevant references in the consolidated version of the Treaty (6655/1/08 REV1 from 30 Apr 2008):

 

Article 3 (TFEU)
1. The Union shall have exclusive competence in the following areas:
(a) customs Union;
(b) the establishing of the competition rules necessary for the functioning of the internal market;
(c) monetary policy for the Member States whose currency is the euro;
(d) the conservation of marine biological resources under the common fisheries policy;
(e) common commercial policy.
2. The Union shall also have exclusive competence for the conclusion of an international agreement when its conclusion is provided for in a legislative act of the Union or is necessary to enable the Union to exercise its internal competence, or insofar as its conclusion may affect common rules or alter their scope.



Article 4 (TFEU)
1. The Union shall share competence with the Member States where the Treaties confer on it a competence which does not relate to the areas referred to in Articles 3 and 6. 2. Shared competence between the Union and the Member States applies in the following principal areas:
(a) internal market;
(b) social policy, for the aspects defined in this Treaty;
(c) economic, social and territorial cohesion;
(d) agriculture and fisheries, excluding the conservation of marine biological resources;
(e) environment;
(f) consumer protection;
(g) transport;
(h) trans-European networks;
(i) energy;
(j) area of freedom, security and justice;
(k) common safety concerns in public health matters, for the aspects defined in this Treaty.
3. In the areas of research, technological development and space, the Union shall have competence to carry out activities, in particular to define and implement programmes; however, the exercise of that competence shall not result in Member States being prevented from exercising theirs.
4. In the areas of development cooperation and humanitarian aid, the Union shall have competence to carry out activities and conduct a common policy; however, the exercise of that competence shall not result in Member States being prevented from exercising theirs.



Article 6 (TFEU)
The Union shall have competence to carry out actions to support, coordinate or supplement the actions of the Member States. The areas of such action shall, at European level, be:
(a) protection and improvement of human health;
(b) industry;
(c) culture;
(d) tourism;
(e) education, youth, sport and vocational training;
(f) civil protection;
(g) administrative cooperation.

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